National Journal: Russian Bombing 'Consistent' With Chechnyan Rebels

Jan 24, 2011
National Journal:  Russian Bombing 'Consistent' With Chechnyan Rebels

By Chris Strohm
National Journal
Monday, January 24, 2011 | 4:35 p.m.

The bombing at Russia’s biggest airport is “consistent” with attacks carried out by Chechnyan rebels and should be carefully reviewed by U.S. officials to make sure there are “no cracks” in security at American airports, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told National Journal today.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said it is not known if Chechnyan rebels were behind today’s attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, which left at least 31 dead, and he cautioned that Russia's security situation is very different from the United States'.

“Let me just say what we’ve heard is that it’s consistent with the Chechnyans,” Rogers said in an interview. “We don’t know it’s the Chechnyans yet.”

“We do know that the Russian government is investigating it and is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” he added. “Until we get more information, it’s pretty difficult for us to speculate.”

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but Chechnyan militants have been involved in previous terrorist attacks in Moscow, including a double suicide bombing on the subway in March 2010 that killed 40 people and wounded more than 100.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the bombing an act of terrorism but did not speculate on who might be behind it. The United States has offered to assist in the investigation, aid that most likely would entail sending FBI agents to Moscow, the State Department said.

The House Intelligence Committee plans to take an “A to Z” look at what happened in the attack to see if there are lessons that can be applied to U.S. security operations, Rogers said.

“The United States' posture on airport security and the way we secure the United States or the homeland is very different than most countries, almost all countries,” the lawmaker added. “Some of those countries have different geographical problems and security-type problems that we might not encounter.

“When there’s an event like that, we always take it seriously. At the committee, we’ll go down and we’ll go through A to Z to find out what happened, what [the Russians] know, how it happened," Rogers continued.

“We’ll make sure we take that and then apply it to what we know here to make sure that there are no cracks in any security system. But my only caution is, [these are] two very, very different places. An airport in Moscow is not likely to be run exactly like an airport in the United States,” he said.

The Russian government has faced a rebel movement for independence in Chechnya since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The government maintains control over the region, but rebels have carried out terrorist attacks in the past. Although the rebels are primarily separatists, Islamic fundamentalism has emerged as a driving force behind attacks over the years.