North Caucasus separatists blamed but analysts say ultra-nationalists could be responsible

Political risk analysts are “sceptical” about Russian federal security service (FSB) accusations that today’s Moscow metro bombings were the work of two female suicide bombers from the North Caucasus.

Exclusive Analysis said of the most significant terrorist attack in Russia since 2004: “We are sceptical at the apparent level of certainty of information available, so soon after the attacks.” The firm said it is difficult to ascertain the cause of bombings such as this, particularly on targets so deep underground.

Russia's head of security, the FSB chief, said: "Body parts belonging to two female suicide bombers were found...and according to initial data, these persons are linked to the North Caucasus."

A possible alternative explanation, given by Exclusive Analysis, is that the attacks were carried out by members of a suicide squad trained by Ingush militants as a response to a killing of one of their members by Russian security forces last year.

In November 2009, the Nevsky Express train between Moscow and St Petersburg was bombed and 27 people died. Russian security forces blamed the attack on Ingush militant Said Buryatsky, who they killed in March 2010.

The southern Russian republic of Ingushetia (located in the North Caucasus) has been destabilised by corruption, a number of high-profile crimes, anti-government protests, attacks on soldiers and officers, Russian military excesses and a deteriorating human rights situation.

In the past, the female relatives of dead militants have been recruited and used in suicide bombings. So-called 'Black Widows' were responsible for a number of attacks, including the 2004 suspected suicide bombings that brought down two airliners over southern Russia, said Exclusive Analysis.

“While authorities blame the Nevsky Express attack on Ingush militants, we assess that there are good reasons to believe that right-wing ultranationalists may have been responsible for that attack,” added the firm. Neither does it rule out the involvement of ultra-nationalists groups, extremists who are opposed to the Russian state because they believe it perpetuates the dominance of minorities, in the recent bombings.

Whichever group is responsible, the bombings do not represent an increased capability to carry out attacks amongst terrorist groups, said Exclusive Analysis. The Moscow metro is by its nature a relatively easy or “soft” target.

International human rights lawyer, Robert Amsterdam writes on his website today: “It is certainly not difficult to conceive that the double terrorist bombing committed on the Moscow metro this morning was orchestrated by militant Muslim groups from Chechnya, Dagestan, or Ingushetia (or another part of the North Caucasus)… The Kremlin most likely jumped to the right and obvious conclusion, but there was still a jump.”