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Black Widows Revisited - The Moscow Theater Hostage Siege - 2002

(The eerie similarities - but the methods were different) When news of the Moscow Subway bombing came to light yesterday, the thing that struck me
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(The eerie similarities - but the methods were different)

When news of the Moscow Subway bombing came to light yesterday, the thing that struck me was the phrase "Black Widows", the introduction of female suicide bombers into the terror campaign with Chechnya. I remember listening to a report, as broadcast by the BBC on the aftermath of the Theater hostage siege in Moscow on October 27, 2002.

Jonathan Charles (BBC News): “Explosions and automatic weapon fire reverberated around the night sky. Hundreds of Russian Special Forces troops had been poised to act just before dawn. They were finally given the order to move in. This wasn’t a planned operation, but one which was triggered by events. The Chechens had started killing some hostages, murdering two and injuring at least two others. Some of the hostages then apparently rose up against the heavily armed Chechens; they tried to escape from the Theater. Amidst much confusion, the Russian authorities decided they couldn’t stand by and watch. The Russians pumped some type of sleeping gas into the theater to try to subdue the Chechens. But a pitch battle erupted. Most of the Chechens, including women with explosives strapped around their waists were killed or captured.”

So it's no longer hostage dramas with lists of demands and standoffs. It's young women, Black Widows, acting alone or in pairs quietly striking a new method of terror with horrific results as they were first discovered after that episode in 2002.

The methods of terrorism are changing - the effect is still the same.

But even as far back as 2002 there were hints of things to come.

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