Russia: Mastermind Behind St. Petersburg Explosion Identified

Russian police have so far detained 10 people they suspect of being involved in the attack

Members of the honor guard march by the Kremlin during a memorial commemorating the victims of the St. Petersburg metro blast.
Members of the honor guard march by the Kremlin during a memorial commemorating the victims of the St. Petersburg metro blast. MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS

Russia's Federal Security Service has identified the person who orchestrated an attack that killed 14 people on the St. Petersburg metro earlier this month, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, citing FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov.

"He has been provisionally identified. Yes, yes, identified," agencies cited Bortnikov as saying.

Police have so far detained 10 people they suspect of being involved in the attack.

The bomber, Akbarzhon Jalilov, was killed in the explosion. Russian police believe that Jalilov developed an interest in Islam and soon after traveled to Turkey. Two people told Reuters they did not know for sure if the man, Akbarzhon Jalilov, went on from Turkey to neighboring Syria. Turkey has been routinely used by radical Islamists as a route into areas of Syria controlled by the Islamic State group.

If Jalilov had been in Syria, that would expose a major gap in Russia's counter-terrorism procedures, which rely heavily on identifying anyone who has been with militants in Syria and stopping them from returning to Russia, or arresting them.

The metro blast happened just as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited St. Petersburg. No group has claimed responsibility. But Islamic State has threatened acts of violence on Russian soil in reprisal for the Kremlin's military intervention in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad.