Saint Petersburg, Russia – On April 3rd a deadly improvised explosive device inside what witnesses claimed to be a backpack that was detonated on a metro’s subway train resulted in the deaths of up to 14 and between 50 to 60 injuries. Russian authorities today claim that the bomb which was wrapped in large heavy metal nails designed to affect mass carnage by way of ripping and tearing flesh from bodies was worn and detonated by a 22-year-old Kyrgyzstani-born Russian citizen, Akbarzhon Jalilov, who Russian counter-terror authorities claim has ties to ‘radical Islam.’
Initial reports from witnesses at the metro subway station between the Sennaya Ploschad and nearby Tekhnologichesky Institut stations claim to have seen an unidentified man throw what looked like a backpack onto the train just prior to the explosion. Soon after these reports, Russian Anti-Terrorism authorities immediately began reporting that their teams have identified Jalilov by body parts found on the train, reported that the young Kyrgyz-born, Jalilov was the perpetrator of a suicide bombing and had ties to ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ Russian Anti-Terrorism authorities provided no explanation as to the second, larger, and more sophisticated explosive device found hidden then diffused in a fire extinguisher that carried a kilogram of TNT within, or whether or not an additional suspect or suspects are still at large. No radical terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Chechen rebels, have claimed responsibility.
The central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan is predominately a secular Muslim and a close ally to the Russian Federation and hosts a Russian military airbase within its borders. What is known about Jalilov is that he lived in Kyrgyzstan for about six years and that according to Kyrgyzstan’s state committee on national security had ties to radical Islamic terrorism, to what group is still unknown. Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abyldaev, standing with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, reiterated this in a statement to the press saying; “Regarding the link with Islamic radicalism, we have to wait to know more until the investigation yields its full results”
Yet Russian counter-terror authorities are already primed to declare this attack as some sort of hybrid ISIS-Chechen plot to punish Russia and its citizens for Russia’s military support to the Assad regime in Syria, where a large number of unknown Chechen Muslim extremists have traveled to Syria, fought with the Islamic State and then went back to Russia to possibly conduct terror attacks on Russia’s major cities like Saint Petersburg, or Moscow.
This latest attack might be all the Russian Federation needs to push for an increase of Russian troops and military support within Syria. As both the Assad regime in Syria as well as Russia claim that the United States military presence and current offensive operations in northern Syria are a direct violation of Syrian sovereignty and both Presidents Assad and Putin declared U.S. troops in Syria an overt “invasion” of the embattled country. Prompting Russia to push for more Russian troop deployments, to include its Spetsnaz forces, into the region and to build “reconciliation centers” or bases in the Syrian city of Afrin, just north of Aleppo, to train and provide support for Kurdish communist rebel groups operating in the region against ISIS.
President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin and offered condolences and condemnation from his administration and the American people to this terrorist attack. President Trump also offered the full might of the United States government in support of Russia’s response, whatever that may be, in bringing the yet unidentified group responsible for this attack to justice. In the press release of the call transcription both presidents agreed that terrorism must be “decisively and quickly defeated.”
Regardless of who or what group will be held responsible, Russia will use this latest attack to push its forces deeper into Syria and out to the surrounding regions. U.S., Turkish, and Russian forces are already operating in and around each other in a shaky, tension-filled ‘buffer-zone’ in northern Syria. With the United States already increasing their military presence with the deployment of elements from “America’s Guard of Honor” the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division slotted for this year, and the potential of Russia sending more of its troops into the region as well. This will put these two superpowers already suffering from relationship problems on a possible collision course that may very well end up in a conflict both nations call ill afford.
Feature image courtesy of Twitter