Russia said on Friday terrorists were behind one of the passenger-jet crashes as an Islamic group, which previously claimed an attack on prime minister-designate Shaukat Aziz, claimed responsibility for the twin plane crashes to avenge the killing of Muslims in Chechnya. “The Islambouli Brigades declare that our mujahideen have succeeded in hijacking two Russian planes,” said the group in a statement posted on a website. “The mujahideen have succeeded despite the problems that they encountered at the beginning. There were five mujahideen in each plane.” The attacks “will be followed by a series of operations aimed to back and assist our brothers in Chechnya and other regions suffering from Russia”, the claim warned. The statement said it would soon publish the wills of the attackers of the Russian planes. “We will not rest until we direct successive blows to the despotic and infidel regimes in the region.” The authenticity of the statement could not immediately be confirmed, and Russian officials had no comment. A group by the same name claimed attack on prime minister-designate Shaukat Azzi in July. The use of the name Islambouli was a likely reference to Lieutenant Khaled al-Islambouli who took part in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Cairo in 1981. “According to our initial investigation, at least one of the air crashes ... came as a result of a terror attack,” a spokesman for Russia’s FSB intelligence service was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies, reports Daily Times. Independent informs, tell-tale traces of an explosive said to be favoured by Chechen rebels were found amid the wreckage of one of the two Russian airliners that broke up in midair last Tuesday as the authorities finally conceded that the catastrophe had all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack. Performing a humiliating U-turn on the subject, the FSB (the security service) said at least one of the crashes was "a terrorist act" and that it had identified a number of people who may have had a hand in the attacks which killed 89 people. The background of two suspicious women with Chechen surnames who travelled on either plane is being urgently investigated. The breakthrough came as an obscure Islamist group called the Islambouli Brigade assumed responsibility for the atrocity, claiming it had placed five suicide bombers on each plane to punish Russia for its unofficial war in Chechnya. The group's authenticity and that of its claim could not immediately be confirmed. The revelation that the air disaster was an act of terror linked to the breakaway republic is what the public and the media had been waiting for, however, and is likely to bring about an escalation of an already tense situation in Chechnya which goes to the polls to elect a new president on Sunday. The "clincher" was the discovery of traces of an explosive called hexogen in the wreckage of one of the planes, which had been bound for the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where President Vladimir Putin had been holidaying at the time. Normally used as an explosive element in artillery shells and torpedoes, the Russian security forces view it as the archetypal Chechen calling card. According to Guardian, Russian investigators have finally admitted that terrorists were almost certainly responsible for the destruction of the two passenger planes which crashed on Tuesday, five days before the Chechen presidential election. Traces of explosives have been found in one of the wrecks and a website linked to Islamist militants has claimed that the action was connected to Russia's war on the Chechen separatists. After two days in which the authorities were criticised for dismissing the possibility of terrorist involvement in the crashes, the Federal Security Service (FSB) admitted: "During an investigation of the remains of the Tu-154 plane, traces of explosives were found." The plane came down near Rostov on Don, killing everyone on board. The admission was made a few hours after a little-known Islamist group claimed responsibility for the crashes, which happened within minutes of each other to two flights from Moscow, and killed a total of 89 people. The site said: "Our mujahideen in the Islambouli Brigades were able to hijack two Russian planes and they were successful, despite the obstacles that faced them at the beginning." It added that the attack was "aimed at helping our Muslim brothers in Chechnya and other Muslim countries enduring Russia's atheism."
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