Terror in Russian Skies in wake of Chechnyan Elections

27 August 2004: Explosives residue (similar to that used by Islamic rebels) found in wreckage.

Traces of explosives have been found in the wreckage of one of two airliners that crashed nearly simultaneously earlier this week, the Federal Security Service said Friday, a day after a top official acknowledged that terrorism was the most likely cause of the crashes. A duty officer at the agency, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, confirmed reports on Russian news agencies that cited agency spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko as saying that “preliminary analysis indicates it was hexogen.”

The announcement came several hours after a Web site known for militant Muslim published a claim of responsibility for the twin crashes, connecting the action to Russia’s fight against separatists in Chechnya.

The Russian news reports said the explosive traces were found in the wreckage of a Tu-154 that was one of two planes that crashed Tuesday night, killing at least 89 people.

Although the planes disappeared from radar screens within minutes of each other after taking off from the same airport, Moscow’s Domodedovo, Russian officials had held back from connecting them to terrorism, citing bad fuel and human error as other possible causes.

The Russian presidential envoy for the region that includes Chechnya, Vladimir Yakovlev, however, conceded Thursday that terrorism was seen as the most likely cause.

27 August 2004 - Islamic group claims responsibility for twin Russian plane crashes:

A claim of responsibility for the downing of two Russian planes appeared on a Web site known for militant Muslim comment Friday.

The statement, which accused Russians of killing Muslims in Chechnya (search), was signed “the Islambouli Brigades.” A group with a similar name has claimed at least one previous attack, but the legitimacy of the group and the authenticity of such statements could not be verified.

Russian officials have said terrorism was the most likely cause of Tuesday’s plane crashes, which killed 89 people.
“We in the Islambouli Brigades announce that our holy warriors managed to hijack two Russian planes and were crowned with success though they faced problems at the beginning,” the statement said without elaborating on the problems.

Friday’s statement said five mujahedeen (Islamic fighters) were on board each plane and their wills will be published soon.

The statement did not explain how the hijackers boarded the planes, how they downed them or give any other details.

“Russia’s slaughtering of Muslims is continuing and will only stop when a bloody war is launched,” the statement said. “Our mujahedeen, with God’s grace, succeeded in directing the first blow, which will be followed by a series of other operations in a wave of to extend support and victory to our Muslim brothers in Chechnya and other Muslim areas which suffer from Russian faithlessness.”

A July 31 Web statement signed the “Islambouli Brigades of Al Qaeda” claimed responsibility for the attempt to assassinate Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s prime minister-designate. Friday’s claim did not refer to Al Qaeda, the international terror network led by Osama bin Laden.

Lt. Khaled Islambouli was the leader of the group of soldiers who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a military parade in Cairo in 1981.

Terror in Russian Skies in wake of Chechnyan Elections

Two Airliners Downed: In an obvious act of coordinated terrorism, two Russian passenger airliners originating from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport  were blown from the skies within minutes of each other, killing all 90 passengers and crew from both aircraft. In the wake of Chechnyan elections scheduled for this Sunday, Russian officials had expressed previous concerns of terrorist acts in the days leading up the elections. The upcoming elections will choose a successor to Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated on May 9th in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Debris from the Tupolev TU-154 that carried 38 passengers and 8 crew members from Moscow was discovered in the Rostov region; debris from the second flight also originating from Moscow, a Volga Avia Express TU-134 carrying 35 passengers and 9 crew members was found in the Tula region, 125 miles south of Moscow. Witnesses in Tula reported seeing an explosion before the plane plunged out of the sky.

Sources within US Intelligence Agencies have expressed concern for an increase of terrorist events in the United States in the days leading up to the November presidential elections. Intelligence analysts from the Northeast Intelligence Network have found signs of cooperative efforts between Chechen separatist rebels and Islamic fundamentalists from al Qaeda, especially in recent months, based on Internet communications and US government sources. This incident appears to have the signature of al Qaeda, and is privately causing further concern for the November elections here in the US.