Posted: Nov 28, 2012 7:33 AM
Updated: Nov 28, 2012 7:34 AM
MOSCOW (AP) A man who plotted to organize suicide bombings on Moscow's iconic Red Square on New Year's Eve 2010 was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in jail.
Ilyas Saidov, an Islamic militant, brought explosives-laden belts disguised as heaters for two female suicide bombers on a bus from his native Dagestan, a southern province in the Caucasus region plagued by almost daily clashes between Islamists and federal forces.
But the belt attached to a cellphone exploded at a rented apartment after the detonator was activated by a spam text message, killing one of the women and prompting the arrest of the other. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail in May.
If the plot had gone to plan, thousands would have been in harm's way. Red Square is a popular gathering point for Muskovites on New Year's Eve.
The Moscow City Court also found Saidov guilty of gunning down two police officers and three civilians in Dagestan.
Saidov pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators, giving up the leader and several members of an underground Islamist group he was part of. His testimony led to the killing of several Islamists.
Four members of the group have been convicted, and six more are currently standing trial, investigators said.
Since 2000, at least two dozen female suicide bombers, most of them from the Caucasus, have carried out terrorist attacks on security officers and civilians in Russian cities and aboard trains and planes.
The bombers are often called "black widows" in Russia because many of them are the wives, or other relatives, of militants killed by security forces.
Islamic militants are believed to convince "black widows" that a suicide bombing will reunite them with their dead relatives beyond the grave.