January 24, 2011: Baggage carousal bombing in Moscow airport

On January 24, 2011 suicide bombers bombed baggage carousel at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and wounding 181.

DOMODEDOVO AIRPORT MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Airport terminals are bad enough to endure without throwing terrorism into the mix.

Some of you may know that I have traveled – a lot. And when I say a lot I mean A LOT! While working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and even afterwards in my poorly defined ‘retirement’, I have been around this little blue planet many, many times – well, until COVID-19 hit that is.

On some of those occasions I was able to travel first/business class. Now THAT’s the ticket (literally and figuratively)! Access to nice lounges, lie-flat seats for long transoceanic flights, pretty good meals and wines…why would you fly any other way? Well, there is the price I assume!

On many other occasions I did not have that option and had to endure the typical airport terminal. Some were ok and some were – how shall I put this nicely – NOT so ok. This may sound like grousing – after all being able to get from A to distant B in a number of hours rather than months as was necessary in centuries past should be reward in itself – but we all have our favourite worst airport experiences, don’t we?

Given the long waits should these not be called airport ‘interminables’? (Photo: jgmarcelino on flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Well, at least few of us have had to witness a terrorist attack while hanging about a terminal. This was not the case in Moscow in early 2011.

On this day in 2011

Two suicide bombers (or perhaps just one) detonated their deadly load at a baggage carousel at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and wounding 181. A few weeks later a faction of the Caucasus Emirate claimed the attack.

We were walking out through the exit of the arrivals hall towards the car, and there was this almighty explosion, a huge bang… my colleague and I looked at each other and said ‘Christ that sounds like a car bomb or something’, because the noise was, literally, it shook you.

British passenger

Imagine waiting for your bags wondering whether they made it on your flight. Now imagine a suicide bomber standing beside you. Enough said.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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