Saturday, April 10, 2010

Russian-style train bombings could happen in the West

Since 2007, Russia has been subjected to a number of terrorist bombing attacks on railroad lines and trains designed to both kill Russians and spread fear among the population. Most of these attacks have taken place in and near to the capital city, Moscow or St. Petersburg, the second largest city. Specific attacks against targets in Russia have been:

  • 3/29/10. Two female suicide bombers attacked two trains on the Moscow metro on 29 March 2010 by detonating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were worn on their bodies. Initial reporting indicated that 38 people may have been killed and 102 injured.3 Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • 11/27/09. Chechen extremists attacked the high-speed Russian luxury train, Nevsky Express, by detonating an improvised explosive device (IED) placed under the tracks on a rural segment of the line between Moscow and St. Petersburg.16 hours later a secondary device exploded. The Caucasian Mujahedeen later claimed responsibility for the blast.
  • 8/13/07. The Nevsky Express was blown up by a homemade bomb in the Novgorod area en-route from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Four pounds of explosives derailed the train, wiping out 800 meters of track. Sixty people were reported injured, about half-dozen in critical condition.
Several lessons are there to be learned from the Russian attacks. Analysis of these events has shown that:
  • The Improvised Explosive Device still remains the weapon of choice and is very effective. IEDs are easy to assemble and can be made from everyday materials.
  • Each attack has been claimed by Islamic extremist/terror group from the North Caucasus Region. Similar groups could be operating in western countries, such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany and France.
  • With terrorists across the world copying successful tactics from one location to another, a railroad attack by terrorists in any western country, especially those that have committed resources to combating global terrorism, is a possibility that cannot be ignored.
  • Many Western countries have large, open, and sparsely populated regions, similar to Russia; these areas would seem ideal for rural attacks.
  • City attacks, such as those that took place in Madrid and London, show that any platform or station can be a target; however, a location is more likely to be attacked if there are clusters of targets in the one area. For example, the suicide bombing at the Lubyanka station was symbolic as it was very close to the headquarters of the Federal Security Service, formerly the KGB. These locations then, need the closest security.
  • Suicide attacks are difficult to detect, especially when women are used as the attackers, however close observation of their movements and actions can give them away if interrupted early enough. Signs should be taken seriously and immediate action taken to determine the nature of any possible threat.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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