The BBC, citing Russian officials, is reporting that Akbarzhon Jalilov, the St. Petersburg subway train suicide bomber, has ties to radical Islam.
Jalilov is a 22-year-old Russian citizen who was born in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, a former Russian state that is now an independent republic. Kyrgyzstan is nearly 90% Muslim, and in addition, officials report ISIS has been actively recruiting and radicalizing young men there.
Russian officials believe Jalilov was a suicide bomber who may have acted alone. Authorities, however, are searching for possible accomplices. He is believed to have been carrying a bomb that exploded on a train on the St. Petersburg metro system, killing as many as 14 and injuring dozens more. Among the dead was a mother who threw herself on her daughter to save her life.
Officials report numerous body parts they believe belong to Jalilov have been found scattered around the blast center. That leads investigators to believe he may have been holding or guarding the bomb when it went off. A second bomb was found in another the St. Petersburg train station, however, it was disarmed.
The Kyrgyz National Security Committee (GKNB) named the prime suspect as Akbarzhon Jalilov, a 22-year-old with Russian citizenship, born in the Kyrgyz city of Osh in 1995. Russia later confirmed his identity.
Russian officials suspect that he had links to so-called Islamic State (IS).
So far few details have emerged about Jalilov. There are unconfirmed reports that he was an ethnic Uzbek.
Russia’s State Investigative Committee said: “The investigation identified the man who set off the bomb in the carriage of the Saint Petersburg metro. It was Akbarzhon Jalilov.”
The bomb blew up in a train carriage which had just left Sennaya Ploshchad station. The driver managed to continue to Tekhnologichesky Institut station. Later, a similar device was found propped up against a wall at another city metro station, Ploshchad Vosstaniya.
The Russian investigators said: “From the genetic evidence and the surveillance cameras there is reason to believe that the person behind the terrorist act in the train carriage was the same one who left a bag with an explosive device at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station.”
The Russian news website Gazeta.ru reports that the bombs were concealed in car fire extinguishers, with ball bearings taped to the outside. The one which exploded is said to have been carried in a rucksack.
Reports say Jalilov had been living in St Petersburg for six years and had used several passports. He had worked as a chef in a St Petersburg sushi restaurant, Gazeta reported.
Reuters news agency spoke to people in Osh who said Jalilov was from an ethnic Uzbek family. They said they knew his parents but had not seen him for years.
IS has recruited many Islamist militants from Central Asian republics and from Chechnya in the North Caucasus.