Airport coffee shop at 16:37 — terror strikes

A suicide bomber walks into Moscow airport and says ‘I will kill you all’. The explosion kills 35 and injures over 100. What now for Putin?

At least 35 people have been killed and over 100 injured at Moscow’s main airport. A suicide bomber walked into the international arrivals of Domodedovo airport yesterday and detonated ‘an almighty explosion.’ The roof of the building collapsed and piles of dirty snow came crashing down like an avalanche onto the blood-soaked carnage below.

‘The scene was like a battlefield. Heavy smoke stung the eyes. Bodies stacked in heaps. Beside the Asia café at least 15 corpses were jumbled together’ according to the US foreign correspondent Owen Matthews. At the epicentre of the explosion lay a human head, believed to be the sole remains of the bomber.

Russian police said the bomb was homemade – around five kilos of explosives, packed with shrapnel made out of pieces of chopped wire. For the 10 million people in Moscow the bomb also raises serious questions about their leader.

A dozen years ago, after a series of mystery explosions in Moscow apartment blocks, killing 293, a relatively unknown former security officer called Vladimir Putin was elected prime minister on the promise that he would be able to protect Russians from terrorists.

Clamping down on security meant taking away freedoms. Putin built a virtual police state cracking down on almost anyone who disagreed with him.

He became the most powerful Russian leader of modern times, and for the sake of peace, the Russian people accepted this.

Safety, however, has not happened. The Putin era has been repeatedly shattered by major terrorist attacks such as the Moscow theatre siege of 2002, the Beslan school massacre in 2004, the Moscow metro bombings last spring and many other smaller incidents, unreported in the West.

Among the main suspects for the airport killings are Islamist militants from the North Caucasus — possibly seeking revenge for the killing of terrorist leader Pakhrudin Gadzhiyev in Dagestan last Friday.

Being super-tough may not work. It may be better to try and understand the causes of terrorism and to engage with terrorist leaders. That was what worked, ultimately, when the UK faced terrorists from Northern Ireland. Even our greatest war leader, Winston Churchill, believed ‘jaw, jaw’ was better than ‘war, war’.

Jaw, jaw

So what has gone wrong? Why hasn’t the ‘hard-man’ Putin managed to stop terrorism?

Gennady Gudkov, head of Russia’s powerful security committee, says terrorists have created invisible secret networks. They have gained more support and become more determined.

You Decide

  1. Why do terrorists attack civilians to try to help their cause?
  2. Russian troops are alleged to have committed war-crimes in the Caucasus. If they did, who’s responsible — the troops themselves, the generals, the Russian government or every Russian? How would a terrorist answer that question?

Activities

  1. Write a scene from a play in which a relative of one of the victims meets a terrorist supporter — what would they say?
  2. Do some research to find out how many terrorist attacks have taken place in the last month. Why did this one make the headlines?

Some People Say...

“Terrorists are evil and the only proper response is violence”

What do you think?

Q & A

So are there signs of anger with the Russian leadership?
The Liberal politician Boris Nemstov has spoken out. ‘The battle against terrorism,’ he says, ‘is clearly not among Putin’s priorities, unless of course we count his daily demagoguery on the subject.’
And why are Islamists in the North Caucasus suspected?
Russia has long had problems there, refusing independence to the region of Chechnya.
So?
According to human rights organizations, local resistance there has been brutally crushed. It has created a deep resentment that has been infiltrated by the ideas and values of Islamist extremism.
And this time foreigners died in the blast?
Yes. Hundreds of Russian civilians have been killed in attacks over the past 15 years but this is the first one to target foreigners as well.

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