Saturday, November 28, 2009

Russian Train Derailment: Sabotage on the Moscow-St. Petersburg Line

Train wrecks can cause no end of a mess, but generally don't leave a crater a yard across - and explosives residue.

It looks like someone caused a Russian express train to derail near Uglovka. That's a town about 400 kilometers, or 250 miles, northeast of Moscow. Hundreds of people were traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Over two dozen were killed - different news articles give slightly different numbers: which isn't all that surprising. The accident scene is, literally, a train wreck.

And, as I said earlier today, it's just about certain that this wasn't an accident. Particularly since a second bomb went off, after the first explosion. I understand that's a fairly typical approach: one explosion to draw a crowd and rescue crews, then a second to kill even more people for Allah, the motherland, or whatever.

Inspired - maybe - by the derailment, someone said that a bomb had been planted at Moscow's Kievsky train station. The building was evacuated and searched, and no bomb found. Folks are being let back in now. (RIA Novosti)

The bomb at the Moscow train station may have been a hoax. Since they didn't find one, I certainly hope it was.

Luxury Train Hit

The Moscow-St. Petersburg express was a luxury train, designed to travel at around 124 miles / 200 kilometers an hour: a sort of analog to Japan's Shinkansen, or "bullet trains."

As a target for terrorism, it was a choice which almost guaranteed nation-wide - and, as it turned out, world-wide - news coverage. There was another derailment, similar to yesterday's, also caused by an explosion, on the same route, in August of 2007. (RIA)

Obviously, This is the Work of - Somebody

There are a few "obvious" sorts of groups to blame for yesterday's wreck.
  • Islamic terrorists, because
    • They blow up people
    • Russia wasn't being sufficiently Islamic
  • Chechen rebels, striking a blow for freedom
    • Or killing innocent people, as usual
  • Organized crime
    • Someone refused an offer they couldn't refuse
Me? I don't have enough information to make a reasonable guess as to who's responsible. That said, one of the less-unlikely parties would, I think, be someone with an interest in the Russia-Chechnya situation.
Chechen Terrorism?
Chechnya is a part of Russia, just north of Georgia - or a territory brutally ground under the heel of oppression. Depends on who you're listening to. Quite a few people think it's part of Russia. But then, a lot of folks say the same about Montana and America: and I'm sure that someone, somewhere, disagrees.

If Chechnya sounds familiar, it should. Separatists, insurgents, whatever, dedicated to freeing Chechnya from oppression, or something like that, managed to kill a school-full of kids and teachers in Beslan back in 2004. I suppose it was easier than attacking soldiers. (CNN)

Apparently that glorious victory didn't sit too well, even among Chechen separatists. (Global Security) The Chechen leader who may have been responsible was Shamil Basayev, who died in an explosion in 2006.

Which isn't to say that someone whose heart is in Chechnya and whose conscience is on vacation might not have decided that, since murdering a school-full of kids didn't win freedom for Chechnya, maybe killing a bunch of people on a train would.
Organized Crime: No, Really
Or, like I said, maybe a businessman in Russia made someone an offer he couldn't refuse: and was refused. Back in the 'good old days,' in - say - Chicago, it wasn't healthy to refuse to do business with some of the more influential members of the community. From what I've heard, Russia has been experiencing growth in the organized crime sector of their economy.
Islamic Terrorists?
And, of course, there are Islamic terrorists. Why they'd hit a train going from Moscow to St. Petersburg, I've no idea. But it's possible. Not very likely, though, I'd think.

A Russian news article ended with what I think is one of the more sensible comments on the question of what the two recent explosions mean:
"...The blast has raised fears of a resurge [!] in terrorist attacks in the Russian capital and other major cities. Russia was hit hard by terrorism in the 1990s and the early years of this decade, but there had not been a major incident outside the volatile North Caucasus region since 2004.
Somewhat-related posts: In the news: Background:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.