Though information from St. Petersburg is still sparse, it is increasingly likely that what happened there was a terror attack on its metro system, which has left at least 9 people dead and many more injured.
If this is a terror attack then the high probability is that the person or persons responsible self-identify as Jihadis even if he or they are not actually members of some Jihadi network.
In saying this a word of caution is in order. There are unfortunately other possible suspects for this attack ranging from Ukrainian ultra-nationalists to some violent and unstable individual fired up by some of the overblown rhetoric certain members of Russia’s liberal opposition like to indulge in. However the indiscriminate nature of this attack, obviously aimed at killing civilians, does have the look of Jihadi terrorism about it.
One serious possibility that the Russian authorities will have to consider is that this attack was the work either of ISIS or of some violent and unstable individual inspired by ISIS.
Recently, as The Duran reported previously, a group of militants claiming allegiance to ISIS carried out an attack on a Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard) base in the Caucasus. Some of the individuals involved in that attack were apparently Slavs, suggesting that ISIS has succeeded in gaining some sort of foothold even amongst the Slav population of Russia.
It is typical of ISIS to lash out with terrorist attacks on the home territories of those countries with which it is in conflict, and with Russia leading the fight against ISIS in places like Palmyra and Deir Ezzor it is not difficult to see why ISIS might have activated such cells as it has in Russia and ordered them to carry out terrorist attacks like the one which has apparently just happened in St. Petersburg.
The other possibility, even if ISIS did not actually order the attack, is that like many other terrorist attacks carried out in ISIS’s name, this one is the work of some angry and violent individual who sees in ISIS a cause for which provides some reason for the inclinations to violence and anger which he has.
One of the darkest aspects of the whole ISIS phenomenon is the way ISIS has become a rallying point for the angry and violent people who exist in every society, giving them an excuse and a reason for their violence and their anger whilst taking away whatever inhibitions they previously had. Unfortunately it is possible that the attack in St. Petersburg, using what was apparently a small home-made bomb, was an example of this.
Russia has a long history of dealing with Jihadi terrorism on its territory extending far back into the 1990s. Indeed Russia has much greater experience fighting Jihadi terrorism than any Western state.
As a result of the wave of Jihadi terrorism Russia previously had to combat in the 1990s and early 2000s the Russian security forces have acquired vast experience and knowledge of how to deal with this phenomenon, and the Russians have perfected ways to contain it.
Spot checks with X-ray machines for example still happen on the Moscow metro, and passengers flying from Russia’s international airports still have to pass through security checks and X-ray machines before they can even enter the buildings.
In recent years, as the security situation has significantly improved, some of these security checks have been relaxed. However in light of the attacks on the Rosgvardia base in the Caucasus and on the metro in St. Petersburg, these checks will now no doubt be tightened up again.
At the risk of sounding complacent and even a little callous on a day of great tragedy, I would say that if the attack on St. Petersburg really is the work of ISIS or of some other terrorist group, then they have chosen completely the wrong target.
It ought to be obvious by now that Russia is almost the last country to be intimidated or put off by terrorism, and that attempting to pressure Russia in that way will only harden Russian attitudes rather than soften them.
St. Petersburg is of course the city that defeated the Nazis after a terrible siege, and at a time when it is once more under attack its people will draw courage from that fact.
Any idea terrorists might have that they can shake or intimidate such people through the indiscriminate killing of civilians by planting bombs in the metro merely shows how little they understand Russia, St. Petersburg or its people.