Americans' hearts go out in deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the victims and the Russian people on the occasion of the loss of life and injuries resulting from the two terrorist bombs that went off in Moscow subway stations Monday morning.
The United States has not suffered a comparable attack since the assaults in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that Americans call "9/11." It is a tribute to Russian grit in the face of suffering that Muscovites are continuing to use the city's Metro system in spite of the casualties they have suffered.
It is hard to say what the assaults, apparently carried out by female suicide bombers, mean or what can be done by the Russian authorities to prevent future such attacks on the public. They are as opaque in their motivation and intended effect as the nature and plans of the Michigan-based U.S. "Christian" militia that Americans were introduced to by FBI arrests the same day as the Moscow attacks.
The attacks in Moscow stem from an ongoing war, which rises and falls in its level of activity and intensity, between elements in four of Russia's some 21 republics and the central government. The rebels, found particularly in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia, all in the Northern Caucasus, are -- roughly on the basis of the Islamic fundamentalism of some of their inhabitants -- resistant to Moscow's authority. To some degree some of them may seek the independence that some other republics of the old Soviet Union gained in the early 1990s.
The rebel groups in the republics are reportedly roughly united in seeking an Islamic so-called Caucasus emirate, although even its existence is subject to question by intelligence sources. Their alleged leader, equally shadowy in his provenance and role, is reportedly a man named Doku Umarov, who had threatened to bring the central government's war with the rebels to Russia's cities.
The U.S. government tightened its own security measures in subways in Atlanta, New York and Washington Monday in response to the Moscow attacks. The American government is long past wanting to see the government in Russia tormented by such problems. If it is not occurring already, U.S. intelligence agencies should provide full cooperation to Russia's services in helping them head off any such future attacks.