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Gadzhiyev was killed in an October 2010 shootout with police in the North Caucasus, and investigators quoted in the Russian media said his wife may have been plotting to avenge his death with a suicide attack when she accidentally blew herself up in the motel room. This would be in keeping with an old tradition among Russian terrorist groups. Since 2000, a series of so-called Black Widow bombers have used suicide attacks as revenge for the imprisonment or death of their relatives at the hands of Russia's antiterrorism forces. Most recently, their handiwork has included the bombings that killed 40 people in the Moscow subway in March and that downed two airplanes taking off from Domodedovo airport in 2004, killing 88 people.
The younger woman who checked into that motel also seems to fit this profile and she also has reported links to the Nogaisky Djamaat. On Thursday, Kommersant identified Suyunova as the wife of Anverbek Amangaziyev, a leading member of the cell. He was arrested in October after the North Caucasus shootout that killed Gadzhiyev, and he is now in a Moscow prison awaiting terrorism charges.
It is yet unclear whether the two women holed up in that motel room were planning a revenge attack in the tradition of the Black Widows. Suyunova has not been charged with anything other than possession of explosives. In any case, it now appears that other members of Nogaisky Djamaat may have finished the job. Russian media, citing police sources, say there are two main suspects in the airport bombing plot who are members of that terrorist cell Vitaly Razdobudko and Nazir Batyrov. Both men have been fugitives for some time.
Asked by TIME why the police the investigation into bombed-out cottage did not lead to the arrest of suspected plotters before the Domodedovo attack, Aslambek Aslakhanov, the president of the Association of Law Enforcement and Special Forces Workers says it is none of the public's business. "Of course, sometimes we are not able to prevent crimes before they happen," Aslakhanov says. "But you're asking about secretive organizations... To reveal the results [of our crime prevention efforts] and to bang the drum about it, this is not the way the special forces work, not in Russia or anywhere in the world."
An even more blunt response came from Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee, known as NAK. "The investigation is ongoing, and only the [investigators] can say what's what. Everyone else needs to shut up," a NAK official, Andrei Przhezdomsky, said in the organization's first public statement about the bombing. He added that the police had not known of any plot to attack the airport.
Meanwhile, the only thing keeping visitors from entering the cottage where the explosion took place is a red and white strip of police tape. There is no one guarding the scene of the crime, which reverberates with the noise from the firing range. From the blown-out window of the maid's room, a few pieces of colorful tinsel flap in the wind.
"We were going to have a little New Year's party in that room," the shooting range employee says, pointing to the streamers. "I remember when I went in there for a few minutes to leave some champagne, I brushed passed the Chechen [woman] who escaped. Just think about it. If I had gone in a little while later I would have been in the explosion." It was a lucky break that people at the airport would not share 24 days later.