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Chechen-Born Rebel Claims Responsibility for Moscow Airport Bombing

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This image taken from video received late Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 by The Kavkaz Center, a website affiliated with Chechen rebels, shows insurgent leader Doku Umarov speaking in a video in which he claims responsibility for last month's deadly suicide bombing at Russia's largest airport.AP

A charismatic rebel from Chechnya claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing last month at an airport in Russia that killed 36 people.

Chechen-born Doku Umarov promised similar attacks on Russia in a video posted on Kavkazcenter.com, described by some Russian media outlets as the rebel mouthpiece.

Umarov said his goal is to form an independent Muslim state governed by Shariah law in the tense Caucasus region.

"The special operation today in Moscow was carried out on my orders," said Umarov, after opening the video with a prayer.

The video, which was viewed and translated by FoxNews.com, was said to have been made the day of the Jan. 24, 2011, attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.

Umarov started with a Muslim prayer and goes on to talk about the atrocities Muslims face in places like Iraq and Iran.

He appeared rambling at times, and at one point he was stumped when he couldn’t remember the president of Sudan’s name. But said he wanted to explain to his “brothers” why he orchestrated the bombing.

Umarov, 46, was illuminated by a harsh white light and dark background. He had a long, dark beard, wore military fatigues and spoke in a gruff, yet somber, tone.

He said he will not stop the operation until Russia leaves his “Muslim country.”

“When we try to fight in return, something that is permitted to us by God,” he said speaking about his Muslim brothers. “Everyone in the world treats us like we are savages.”

A statement reportedly said that the Muslims of the Caucasus are at war with the Russian occupation army in the name of Allah to defend Islam.

His views appear to be in lockstep with many in the region who consider Russia’s terror policy to be nothing more than fighting terror with terror.

Chechnya is ripe for the spread of terrorism, said Prof. Anatoly Isaenko from Appalachian State University, who specializes in ethnic conflicts. Many in the country feel the constant tug of Russia’s overreach; they have a corrupt, autocratic regime and society in Chechnya is lawless.  

To be sure, Umarov also had claimed responsibility for the Moscow Metro attack that left 40 dead in March 2010.

Russia’s vulnerability begins with a lackluster secret agent presence in the region, crippled by two main reasons: When spies are discovered, militants often inflict harsh forms of torture and, at times, seek to kill family members and their children.

“I call it the balance of terror,” said Isaenko. “Both answer each other with more terror acts.”

Similar to the frustrations the U.S. has dealt with in Afghanistan and Iraq, these terror groups often get more loyal and secretive the closer one gets to its nucleus. In turn, usable information is often scant and unreliable.

Umarov heads the Caucasus Emirate, a shadowy terror group that dreams of creating an Islamic state in Russia’s north Caucus region and operates mainly in the wild back country of Dagestan and Chechnya, reported Pravda, a Russian newspaper.   

The history of Umarov appears to be that of a regular fighter who rose through the ranks and finally assumed a leading role back in 2007, said Isaenko.

He earned the moniker of the Russian Usama Bin Laden. His reach and power, however, pale in comparison to that of Bin Laden's, Isaenko said. 

“He’s probably the fifth biggest player in the region,” he said