One of Russia’s most wanted men, Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, has said he ordered the suicide bomb attack last month on Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport that left 36 people dead and 180 injured.
In a video posted online, the rebel leader said the attack was a response to “Russian crimes in the Caucasus”.
He also promised that similar suicide attacks would continue.
Umarov is leader of the “Caucasus Emirate”, an Islamist militant group based in North Caucasus. He served as security minister in the Chechen separatist government from 1996-99.
Another video of the rebel leader was posted online late on Friday last week in which he threatened a year of “blood and tears” but made no explicit reference to the airport bombing.
Umarov has previously claimed to have orchestrated the suicide bombings on the Moscow Metro in which 39 people died, and is said to have ordered the November 2009 bombing of a train from Moscow to St Petersburg that left 26 dead.
The video which appeared on the Kavkaz Tsentr website is dated 24 January, the day of the attack.
Umarov speaks to the camera saying: “This special operation was carried out on my orders and, God willing, special operations like it will continue to be carried out.”
He goes on to say that Muslims are under attack all over the world, talking at length about the situation in Sudan, and condemns “Zionist and Christian regimes led by Israel and America”.
Umarov says that he and his fighters “are waging jihad in the Caucasus today to establish the word of Allah”, and there are “hundreds more brothers” ready to sacrifice themselves to that end, in the fight with Russia’s “racist regime”.
Promising “regular, deeper and more aggressive operations”, he says he wishes that so much blood did not have to be spilt for Russia to “leave the Caucasus”.
In an earlier video, Doku Umarov was flanked by one man Russian investigators believe was the suicide bomber who struck at Domodedovo Airport.
At least seven foreigners were killed in the bombing at the airport, including one person each from Britain, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. At least 16 Russians were also among the dead.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sacked several officials - said to include a regional transport chief and a Moscow police deputy head - after the bombing, blaming them for poor security.