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Chechen Rebel Leader Claims Credit for Moscow Subway Bombings

The leader of an Islamic rebel movement based in Russia's troubled Chechnya region has issued a video communiqué claiming credit for the March 29 suicide bombings of two Moscow subway stations. The video was posted the same day by the Kavkaz Center, a media outlet of the Chechen mujahedin movement, according to Evan Kohlmann, a private researcher who monitors jihadist groups and their media postings. U.S. government experts consider the claim "plausible," according to one counterterrorism official.

In the video, the Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov, also known as Dokka Abu Usman, says the subway attacks were retaliation for an alleged massacre by Russian security forces against victims described by Umarov as poor peasants who were attacked while gathering wild garlic in Arshty, a village in the Russian republic of Ingushetia near the Chechen border. Umarov's video asserts that troops belonging to the FSB, Russia's principal security and intelligence agency, "finished off innocent civilians with knives" and then supposedly "mocked" their bodies.

According to a preliminary translation by Kohlmann, the rebel leader presents the Moscow attacks as a legitimate response to the continued killings of civilians in the Caucasus region, and says attacks will continue against Russians "who send their gangs to the Caucasus and support their security services, who carry out massacres." Umarov accuses the Russian people of "idly watch[ing] the war in the Caucasus on their TV sets . . . with no reaction to excesses and crimes committed by their gangs, which are being sent to the Caucasus under the leadership of Putin." The video ends with a warning: "Therefore the war will come to your streets, and you will feel it with your own lives and skins."

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