Metro attacks are likely to have Caucasus track – Carnegie Center analyst
“Perhaps, it’s too early to make a final conclusion, but, to my mind, it’s pretty evident that there was a pretty well-organized force behind the attack if you look at the scale, at timing, at places where it was organized,” explains the analyst.
Referring to the two tactics the government has so far been using to fight terrorism, Petrov says, they might be counter-productive this time.
“One [scenario] was to intensify pressure on suspicious guys everywhere, not only in the Northern Caucuses. Another was to make tougher controls over political development, like after the Beslan terror attacks,” he noted.
Petrov says that the recent shift of the Kremlin to a more business-like model of trying to negotiate with the major groups and clans is much more effective.
“The problem is that the authorities do want results now, and there is no way to achieve fast results,” Petrov concluded.
While Monday's attacks were the first to strike Moscow Metro for six years, many now fear they could mark the beginning of a new wave of bombings.
The Moscow terror acts could be linked to either the start of Holy Week in Russia, or to the 10th anniversary of Vladimir Putin swearing in as President of Russia in 2000, shared Viktor Linnik who is Editor-in-Chief of newspaper “Slovo”.
“Security should be heightened, as it was done elsewhere, and Moscow will most certainly take measures to prevent these kinds of things, but unfortunately no big city in the world can be 100% proof from attacks of this nature. Because suicide bombers are people that would penetrate almost anywhere,” acknowledged Linnik.
Aleksandr Nagorny, a political analyst, said that after this tragic event, there “will be rather serious political consequences.” He added, “I think there should be a change in strategy, in approach to the northern Caucasus, and especially in connection with separatist groups. But it is not clear yet whether President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin will make this or that conclusion, because they will have to rethink their strategy.”
Olga Kamenchuk from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center says that now more and more people are starting to blame the Islamic factor and Islamic terrorism.
“They are speaking much more about the outside factor, not so much about internal problems and internal terrorists. So from that point of view, of course, there could some more suspicions, more stereotypes in terms of Islamic people and people coming from other parts of the country or other parts of the world,” she said.
Kamenchuk also added that, “As a psychologist I can say that it is a typical situation of ‘us versus them’. People feel threatened.”
“Of course in some ways people are acting irrationally by trying to protect themselves. I don’t think there will be a massive problem with people originated form Asia or other areas of the world,” she said. “However some cases might happen.”
In her interview with RT, Kamenchuk said, “Our studies didn’t show a significant trace of nationalism – and not only ethnic nationalism, but also religious nationalism – after the terrorist attacks like the one which we’ve just witnessed.”
Some observers are casting doubt that yesterday's bombings are directly linked with Al-Qaeda. Yet, as British author and policy analyst Anatol Lieven explains, all terror groups are connected in a global network.
“This is not an immigrant problem in Russia, I mean it’s a migrant problem in Moscow,” Lieven told RT. “The bulk of these people are Russian citizens from the North Caucasus. International Islamist forces are allied with them and stand behind them. But just as in Britain the perpetrators of 7/7 in 2005 were not international Islamists, they were British Muslims, citizens, who then went to Pakistan to train. That of course is much more difficult to stop; it’s not a question of stopping people at the borders.”
Russian authorities are convinced that North Caucasus extremists are to blame. Political analyst Dmitry Babich from “Russia Profile’ magazine is hoping that the recent blasts will not lead to more violence.
“I work close to the site of one of yesterday bombings and yesterday I got so many calls from my Muslim friends who were all concerned about me,” Babich told RT. “And I know that some of my Russian friends have become more careful in dealings with Muslims trying not to offend them. I hope people understand that this is exactly the reaction that terrorist wanted to trigger, to see Christians and Muslims fighting each other in Russia, or at least looking at each other with suspicion.”
Dr Walid Phares, a professor and commentator on global terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs, says the bombings are not just a domestic affair for Russia. He maintains that they are a part of international terrorism directed against the world's democracies.
“This is a campaign waged by Jihadi forces some of which are inside the borders of Russia,” Phares said RT. “Other parts – it’s like the tip of the iceberg – are also found in other places funding this. Not only do we have the threats by the leader of the Caucasus Jihadists – Mister Umarov – but we also had statements made and attitude developed by Jihadists made as far as Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Africa, even in the West in support of this activity. So, Russia has been hit by international terrorism."