Andrew Osborn

 

 

Chief Russia Correspondent

 

Deputy Bureau Chief Russia/CIS

 

Reuters

 

 

'Black widow' bombers named

The Daily Telegraph, 17th April 2010 15:15

Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW: Russia's security services have drawn up a list of 23 women they fear could become "black widow" suicide bombers.

The women, aged from 22 to 43, are widows or relatives of Islamist radicals killed by Russian security forces.

They are suspected of seeking revenge and are classified as "presenting a potential risk".

The unusual step of identifying the women follows a double suicide bombing on the Moscow metro last month that killed 40 people. The attacks renewed fears of a fresh terrorism campaign in Russia's big cities.

Interest in black widows has been intense since it was confirmed that the two women who bombed the Moscow metro were the wives of dead Islamist terrorists.

Both came from the largely Muslim southern Russian republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus. Security sources said that there could be up to 1000 aspiring black widows in Dagestan alone.

"It is really complex to keep a track of every black widow," the sources said. "Since 2005, when a wave of terror enveloped Dagestan, about 500 Islamist fighters have been destroyed.

"Each one of them had a minimum of two wives, many of whom were passed on from one husband to the other. Roughly speaking there about 1000 zombified girls in the making."

Human rights groups and one of the women, who was identified in a Russian newspaper, have complained about the exercise, arguing that it is tantamount to declaring someone guilty until proven innocent.

But black widows have been blamed for other attacks in Russia, including the bombing of a rock concert in Moscow in 2003 and blowing up Russian passenger jets in 2004.