POLITICS - According to the Russian government the women who perpetuated the recent subway bombings in Moscow belong to a Chechen militant women's group called "The Black Widows", women who have had their husbands slain in combat against the Russians.
Videos and photos released by Chechen rebels have confirmed this.
The trick about Chechen rebels is there is a duality about the situation. #1. Not all Chechen rebels are Muslim. There are also Christian and secular Chechen rebels. #2. Their primary focus is their fight to form their own government. They're not worried about creating a "Islamic State", they just want an independent Chechnya free of Russian rule.
The Russian government however is refusing to grand Chechnya independence (which was declared independent in 1991) because of oil pipelines that run through the region and thus instead has chosen to retaliate against Chechen rebels.
For the women involved there isn't a lot of opportunity to do anything else. Russian government programs in the region to promote education for women are almost non-existent, as such women seeking a career really have two choices: Motherhood or Martyrdom.
And when your husband gets killed by the hate Russians the depression sets in. Do you get remarried when no husband will want you since you're "damaged goods"? Or do you go out with a bang?
For un-educated women from Chechnya they're barely even citizens under Russian law. The Chechen people have been relegated to 2nd class citizens and Chechen women? Pfff. They're basically 3rd class citizens. So its really not much of a surprise the people of Chechnya want their independence.
HOWEVER this doesn't excuse their behaviour and attacking innocent people. The recent bombings in Moscow killed 39 people. There are other ways to PROTEST PEACEFULLY, but that is not the way of the Black Widows.
Its not just uneducated women or widows who join the cause of the Black Widows. Its women who just plain loved their country and want an independent Chechnya. Asides from the clothes they still enjoy spending time with friends, partying and doing other things popular with young people.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to go and fight,” says Rosa, cradling a Kalashnikov rifle on her lap and sitting under an apricot tree. “But when my friends told me my nursing skills were needed, I went. Then I found out that everybody had to take up the gun.”
Rosa is a seasoned fighter, battling Russian troops for Chechen independence for over a year now. She says the hardest thing was getting used to the uniform. “At first, when the commander told me to put on fatigues I couldn’t do it. Then I obeyed him, but put a skirt over the trousers.”
Rosa is a member of the Black Widows. Not all of them are suicide bombers, some are simply fighters in a campaign of warfare that dates back before the 1991 declaration of independence. Since then the Black Widows has been responsible for over half the suicide attacks in Russia.
“Chechen women are the most dangerous for national security because they have carried out the most risky operations,” says a study by psychologists Anne Speckhard and Khapta Adhmedova. Women are able to get past Russian troops without being suspected and thus carry bundles of explosives with them for the purposes of eventually staging terrorist attacks.
History is filled with other examples of "Black Widows":
Yael, a nomadic woman, hammered a spike through the head of the sleeping Canaanite commander Sisera after he had fled a battle with the Israelites.
Jewish heroine Judith used her wiles to seduce and behead the drunken Assyrian general Holofernes and save her city of Bethulia.
Celtic Queen Boudicca fought the Romans after the death of her husband, fitting her chariots with knives to slash enemy troops.
Charlotte Corday stabbed Jean-Paul Marat in his bath, thus killing one of the instigators of the Terror during the French Revolution.
Fanni Kaplan, a Russian, shot Vladimir Lenin twice (he survived) because he became corrupt and betrayed her Socialist ideals.
Violet Gibson, the Irish aristocrat, made an unexplained assassination attempt on Benito Mussolini.
Valerie Solanas, 1960s manhater who founded the Society for Cutting Up Men, shot and wounded artist Andy Warhol.
Ulrike Meinhof, German anarchist, was involved in bombings, robberies and gunfights before killing herself in a jail cell.
Women however are still a minority in the history of killers, regardless of their motive. 700 years of homicide data shows male-on-male killings are 40 times more common than female-on-female killings. (Not including wars.)
“There is no known society where the level of lethal violence among women even approaches that of men,” says a study by Canadian psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson. Male murderousness is driven by violent environments, bad childhoods and high testosterone levels that promote aggressive behaviour.
The Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers pioneered female suicide squads in the 1980s. Palestinian, Lebanese and Kurdish women followed suit.
Studies of Palestinian women bombers pointed to two main causes (according to a report from the Israeli-based Center for Special Studies):
#1. The vengeance for deaths of relatives.
#2. Being pushed into the fringes of society where they are made psychologically vulnerable.
Speckhard and Akhmedova’s 2006 study of Chechnya's Black Widows (based on 45 interviews with family members, friends or former hostages of 34 female suicide bombers) has some interesting results: “Nearly all had lost close family members in air raids, bombings, landmines, so-called ‘cleansing’ operations carried out by Russian forces, and in battle.”
When the Russian military is involved in ethnic cleansing its no small surprise the people of Chechnya have resorted to terrorism. Combined with high unemployment rates and low education it doesn't give people a lot of options.