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24 Jan, 2012 06:52

One year on: Domodedovo probe complete

A year after the deadly Domodedovo attack, the investigation into the tragedy is complete, with four men charged. 37 people were killed and 173 injured in the blast carried out by a suicide bomber in the Moscow airport arrivals hall.

Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC) has announced the four people charged are members of the organized criminal group Caucasus Emirate – they are brothers Islam and Ilez Yandiyev, Ahmed Yevloyev and Bashir Khamkhoyev.The Yandiyev brothers are said to have driven suicide bomber Magomed Yevloyev, 20, to Domodedovo airport. Magomed’s brother Ahmed helped him prepare, and dropped him off en route to Moscow. Magomed traveled the rest of the way by bus. Ahmed deliberately checked that none of his relatives or friends would be on board, for fear Magomed might change his mind about the suicide mission after talking to them. Khamkhoyev helped with Magomed’s training, and sent people to meet him when Magomed arrived in Moscow from Ingushetia.The final indictment will be presented as soon as the defendants and their attorneys, as well as those affected by the attack have studied the case material, official IC spokesman Vladimir Markin says.

The criminal team

Magomed Yevloyev, previously identified by the IC as the suicide bomber, was a 20-year-old native of Russia's republic of Ingushetia, trained by Islamist terrorists in the North Caucasus. Russia's most wanted terrorist Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the bombing.The investigation confirmed that the terrorist attack was indeed organized by the Caucasus Emirate criminal organization's leader. The group was led by Aslan Byutukayev and Supyan Abdullayev. They chose and trained Magomed Yevloyev to commit the attack, said Markin.Altogether, 28 militants, all affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate terrorist organization, have been linked to the attack. Seventeen of them were killed in special operations last year, and 4 have been detained. Doku Umarov himself, however, is still on the loose. So are seven other suspects: Aslan Byutukayev, Rustam Altemirov, Zaurbek Amriyev, Mikhail Bogatyryov, Islam Yevloyev and Ibragim Torshkhoyev. They have all been charged in absentia with carrying out a terrorist act, Markin said. The IC is also verifying information that Altemirov and Amriyev might have been killed in Istanbul on September 16, 2011. As well as the Domodedovo explosion, Chechen warlord Umarov has claimed responsibility for the 2010 Moscow Metro blast, as well as the 2009 Nevsky Express attack.In March 2011, Umarov was placed on the UN Security Council ‘terrorist’ list for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and people closely linked to these groups. US President Barack Obama has pledged $5 million for information on Umarov's whereabouts.

January terror for Moscow

The Domodedovo bombing was meant to be the final incident in a series of January blasts in Moscow planned by Doku Umarov. Two suicide bombers were preparing to set off explosions on New Year’s eve in the midst of celebrating crowds in Red Square. The plan failed after one of the bombs triggered prematurely in the bomber’s Moscow hide-out that day, killing one of the would-be suicide attackers, Zavzhat Daudova. The second bomber, Zeinap Suyunova, and several suspected accomplices were arrested shortly afterwards. It was Suyunova who confessed that another pair of suicide bombers might carry out attacks in Moscow. She named “Russian Wahhabi” Vitaly Razdobudko and his partner Marina Khorosheva. The pair, however, failed to leave Dagestan because of a police search operation. Later in February, they committed a suicide attack in Dagestan, targeting a police station and police check-point, killing two policemen and injuring 27 others.The Domodedovo blast was the only attack masterminded by Doku Umarov that actually worked out as planned. Having visited several airports in Moscow, the terrorists chose Domodedovo, as police were frequently absent from check-points, and metal detectors were easily avoidable.

Domodedovo blast

The attack took place on January 24, 2011, at 16:30 Moscow time, in the international arrival zone at Domodedovo airport. Yevloyev set off a homemade explosive device on his belt, equivalent to 2 – 3 kilograms of TNT, and stuffed with small metal particles and shrapnel. The explosion killed 37 and injured 173 Russian and foreign citizens. Witnesses recall their shock and horror in the first minutes of trying to deal with the tragedy and help the injured. Alex, from a car hire company, was in the arrival hall at the time of explosion and later helped to evacuate the wounded on luggage carts.“One of them was missing part of his leg, another part of his hand. But the most terrible thing at that moment was how quiet it became. Only those who were trying to find their loved ones were screaming," he recalls.Another witness, businessman Oleg Konovalov, was saved by his friend’s intuition. The friend suggested they step back from the arrivals and departures board – just minutes before the blast."He said ‘Let’s move away to the wall, there are too many people here,” says Oleg. Minutes later “a man wearing a dark jacket and cap rushed in, pushing everyone out of the way. Then the room was alight with a bright flash, and we heard a muffled clap."The attack was followed by an increase in security levels at all transportation hubs across the country. At Domodedovo itself, a complete security check has been introduced for those entering the airport, the number of officers working with sniffer-dogs has been doubled, and the airport’s police force has been increased by one third.