Russia jails New Year terror plotter for 15 years

MOSCOW - A Russian court on Wednesday sentenced a suspected Islamist militant to 15 years in a penal colony for participating in a failed plot to stage twin suicide bombings in Moscow on New Year's Eve in 2010.

The Moscow City Court found Ilyas Saidov guilty on several counts of banditry, terrorism, weapons smuggling and murder, including bringing two bombs to the capital to be used by two female suicide bombers in an attack, the Investigative Committee said.

Russian security services revealed the existence of the plot in early 2011, saying it was only avoided because one of the suicide bombers accidentally blew herself up on the outskirts of the city, where the women rented a house on the grounds of a shooting club.

When the first bomber, Zavzhat Daudova, set the bomb off, destroying the building and killing herself, the second female, Zeinap Suyunova, fled Moscow and was later arrested in southern Russia.

Suyunova was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May.

Television footage showed Saidov sitting inside the courtroom glass enclosure Wednesday, using a plastic folder to hide his face from the cameras.

Saidov, a native of the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan, was also convicted of crimes preceding the Moscow plot, including killing a top police officer in Dagestan and train bombing, the Investigative Committee said.

Prosecutors had not sought a life sentence for Saidov only because he signed an agreement to help the investigation, a representative of the Prosecutor General said in televised remarks.

Investigators said that Saidov was the one who brought the suicide belts from Dagestan on a bus, hiding them in two gas boilers.

The bombs were supposed to be set off on Moscow's Red Square on New Year's Eve, when it is packed with celebrating crowds, investigators said.

Saidov is the fifth suspect convicted for participating in the Moscow bombing plot, with six more awaiting trial, investigators said.

Moscow has been rocked by bombings in recent years. A twin suicide bombing killed 40 on the Moscow metro during rush hour in 2010. A suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the Domodedovo airport outside Moscow in late January 2011, killing 37.

Russia is fighting a simmering insurgency in the North Caucasus, where militant groups seek to establish an Islamist state, and the Dagestan region in recent years has faced near daily attacks on policemen and moderate religious leaders.

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