For now, all signs indicate that the Volgograd bus bombing was a terrorist attack orchestrated by the Caucasus Emirate’s Dagestani network.


Russian rescuers dealing with the consequences of the Volgograd bus explosion. Photo: RIA Novosti / Vitaly Belousov 

A wave of terrorist attacks leading up to the Sochi Winter Games could be in the offing in an effort not just to frighten Russians but also foreigners who may be planning to attend the Olympics.

The most fundamental reason for the bus attack in Volgograd, if it turns out to be an operation organized by Caucasus Emirate mujahedin (which is by far the most likely source), is that this what global jihadist organizations do. They engage in offensive insurgent and terrorist attacks, contrary to the view held by many that suicide bombings and jihadi revolution is provoked by foreign occupation.

Early reports indicate that the shakhidka (“black widow”) was the wife of an amir of the Caucasus Emirate’s Dagestani network, the Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV). The DV is the Caucasus Emirate’s largest and by far most powerful network. Of late, it has been carrying out 70-80 percent of Caucasus Emirate-tied attacks and violent incidents and more than 50 percent of suicide bombings, including 16 of 34 in the North Caucasus since 2010 plus another 3 of the 4 that have occurred outside the North Caucasus since 2010.

The Volgograd attack mirrors the March 2010 twin Moscow subway suicide bombings carried out by two other wives of DV amirs.

That the Caucasus Emirate amir recently cancelled his January 2012 moratorium on attacks targeting civilians in Russia at the same time he called on Caucasus Emirate mujahedin to carry out terrorist attacks to prevent the Sochi Olympics, combined with the fact that the Volgograd attack is the closest to Sochi ever to occur, all suggest that the Volgograd attack could very well be a warning shot over the bow of Sochi.

In a recent report, I argued that the most likely tactic to disrupt the Sochi Olympics would be suicide bombers, perhaps ethnic Russian ones. The DV amir, who managed Volgograd suicide bomber Naida Asiyalova, according to early reports, appears to be the same one – or at least, linked to the same one - who managed the ethnic Russian suicide bomber who killed Dagestan’s leading Sufi sheikh in August 2012.

While one of the Boston bombers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's sentence is to be announced before the end of October, it is unlikely that the two events are connected. It remains unclear whether the Caucasus Emirate DV assisted the Tsarnaevs, though it is certain now that Dzhokhar’s elder brother Tamerlan made contact with Caucasus Emirate DV mujahedin and was planning to join them when he traveled to Dagestan.

He may have sought assistance after deciding not to ‘go to the forest’ and to carry out an attack in the U.S.  At a minimum, Tamerlan was inspired by the Caucasus Emirate and its DV indirectly through the Internet or directly when he contacted the mujahedin in early 2012 while in Dagestan.  However, it remains unclear that the Caucasus Emirate or DV leadership was involved in any way and holds any special attachment to the ‘success’ of that Caucasus Emirate-inspired attack.

The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia Direct or its staff.