chapter  6
22 Pages

Black widows and beyond: Understanding the motivations and life trajectories of Chechen female terrorists


The tactic of suicide terrorism was first imported into the Chechen conflict on June 7, 2000 when two women – Khava Barayeva, cousin of well-known Chechen field commander Arbi Barayev, and Luisa Magomadova drove a truck filled with explosives into the temporary headquarters of an elite OMON (Russian Special Forces) detachment in the village of Alkhan Yurt in Chechnya. Unlike many other Muslim areas of the world where the tactic of suicide terrorism has been used – Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq – Chechen women have carried out acts of suicide terrorism from the beginning of this struggle for independence. Indeed, Chechen female terrorists have participated in a majority of suicide attacks in Chechnya – taking part in 79 percent of the total attributed to terror groups (twenty-two of twentyeight to date). A total of 42 percent of all Chechen suicide bombers have been women – that is, forty-six women bombers out of a total of 110 Chechen1 suicide bombers.2 Table 6.1 shows a complete listing of all suicide attacks attributed to Chechens to date.3