ST PETERSBURG/OSH – Reuters
The man Russian
police believe was the suicide bomber who killed 14 people in a blast on the St. Petersburg metro this week developed an interest in Islam and soon after travelled to Turkey, two people who know him told Reuters.
The two people said 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 of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Jalilov, the suspected suicide bomber, was born in 1995 and grew up in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim ex-Soviet Republic in Central Asia.
Around 2011 he moved to St. Petersburg. He worked in low-paid jobs for several years. Photographs posted on social media showed a stylishly dressed young man. His online posts offered no hint of any ties to Islamist militants.
But there is a gap in Jalilov’s biography from the end of 2015 until the start of this year. During that period several acquaintances said he disappeared from view.
He reappeared when he visited Osh in February this year. In March he returned to St. Petersburg and rented an apartment from where he set off on the day of the bombing carrying a rucksack and a bag.
Turkish authorities confirmed that Jalilov had entered Turkey in November 2015 and because his name was not on any lists, he entered easily, daily Hürriyet columnist Deniz Zeyrek wrote in this column on April 10.
While he was departing the country, he needed to pay a fine as he had breached his visa and was also barred from entry.
His travel documents he used when exiting Turkey was obtained from the Russian
Consulate, Zeyrek wrote.