TODAY   |  March 29, 2010

‘Black Widows’ point to rebel group

NBC terrorism analyst Mike Sheehan tells TODAY’s Ann Curry that the female suicide bombers, also known as “black widows,” indicate Chechen rebels are likely behind the subway bombings in Moscow.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> of the counterterrorism for the new york police department , mr. sheen, good morning.

>> good morning.

>> as we just heard from chris, the head of russia 's main security blames caucus rebels for this attack and the caucus region basically contains this chechen area. is this likely?

>> very likely, ann . one of the leaders of the separatist movement there warned that they would take the attack to the mainland in russia rather than just fighting down there in that area. they had been warning this very much was their modus apparandi.

>> are there any other possibilities that are being looked at or is this the focus on chechnya?

>> definitely that's where the focus is. all types of transportation, aircraft, trains, reminiscent of the attacks in madrid and london and a great concern here in the united states , one of the major transportation modes .

>> this report that the suicide bombers are female is also a possible clue?

>> that's right. generally they're not used by terrorist groups like al qaeda but chechens have used them in the past several times, again further indication, a group called the black widows , associated with widows of the fighting down there.

>> if this is the work of chechen rebels, what is the message they are trying to send and what's the reaction that russia will have to have to it?

>> they've put tremendous pressure on chechen , so they're fighting back at the russian government in moscow . there's no question that the attack right near the station where the interior ministry is, which is responsible for security down there, no question it was targeted there to send that message.

>> meantime, what is the security system in that metro system ?

>> it's very difficult to secure a metro system of 6 million, 7 million people a day, coming in and out of many stations at rush hour, almost impossible. what you can do is put armed guards out there and try to observe the people. they had been successful in the past of intercepting people who had been carrying bombs on the subway system . it's very, very difficult, particularly at rush hour.

>> sobering development this morning. thank you very much for your important perspective this morning.

>> thank you.