Russia’s Fear of Female Bombers Is Revived





The two powerful explosions that tore through Moscow’s subway on Monday revived a peculiar fear in the Russian capital, one that goes beyond the usual terrorism worries of a metropolis: the female bomber....

Earlier this decade, Moscow’s fear of female suicide bombers was so strong it became a lurid obsession. Women, sometimes casually clad in jeans and blending in to the swirl of Moscow, committed at least 16 bombings, including two on board planes....

The women, who came to be called the Black Widows, were not the first women to die this way. That dubious honor goes to a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, who drove a truck into an Israeli Army convoy in 1985. The former Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was killed in 1991 by a member of the Birds of Paradise, a female group associated with the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.

Suicide bombing was a tactic that came late to Chechnya and was nearly unknown during the first war from 1994 to 1996. But once it arrived, in 2000, in an attack that killed 27 Russian special forces soldiers, it quickly became associated with women....

In 2004, female suicide bombers detonated bombs on domestic flights; one bomber identified by the Russian authorities was in her early 40s, and two others were sisters in their 20s.



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