On Monday, 30-year old Naida Asiyalova boarded a bus in Volgograd, Russia and detonated a bomb with 600 grams of TNT. She killed six people and injured between 33 to 37 people. Authorities are now looking for her husband and believe her original target was Moscow.
Asiyalova was a native of Dagestan in Russia’s North Caucasus region. This region is volatile after two separatist wars in Chechnya and many radical Islamist terrorist attacks that have taken place. Her husband is 21-year old Dmitry Sokolov, a rebel commander and an expert in explosives. His parents reported him missing in July 2012, and he has been on the run ever since. He and Asiyalova met at a university.
Rasul Temirbekov, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee’s regional branch in Dagestan, said Asiyalova met Sokolov, a university student, in Moscow and recruited him to join the rebels in Dagestan. He studied Islam and the Arabic, took the nom de guerre of Abdul Jabbar and quickly gained a reputation with the militants.
Investigators believe Sokolov had prepared explosives for a suicide bomber who blew herself up outside the regional branch of Russia’s Interior Ministry in Dagestan in May, killing 12 people.
Sokolov is already on a Russian watch list, but his wife was never named on it.
This is first terrorist attack outside of the North Caucasus region since 2011 and is raising security fears in Russia given that the 2014 Winter Olympics start on February 7 in Sochi. Security experts say the town is very vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
According to Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee, Asiyalova purchased a ticket for Moscow but changed buses in Volgograd. They are trying to determine if Moscow was her original target and she decided to attack Volgograd at the last minute. The bomb was filled with shrapnel and the majority of the 40 people on the bus were students. One injured person was a 20-month old toddler.
There were reports Asiyolova suffered from a fatal bone disease, but her mother said she only had stomach problems. She also did not talk to her daughter much after she dived into the religion.
Female suicide bombers in the area are often called Black Widows because their husbands died in previous bombings. Female suicide bombers previously attacked the underground railway stations in Moscow in 2010, killing 35 people. In 2004, female bombers blew up two airplanes at the Moscow airport and killed 90 people. Another 130 people were killed during a three day hostage situation in 2002.