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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Arrested in Foiled Car Bomb Plot

MTTelevision footage of the car shortly after police detonated the explosives.
The Lefortovo District Court on Thursday sanctioned the arrest of two men suspected of plotting a major terrorist attack in Moscow.

The suspects, Umar Batukayev and Ruslan Musayev, were detained Tuesday night in connection with the plot, court officials said, Interfax reported.

The attack was to be carried out during the recent May holidays using explosives discovered in a parked car earlier this week, the Federal Security Service said Thursday.

Batukayev, 23, is a student at The Moscow Academy of Economics and Law, while Musayev, 25, has a university degree and a 4-year-old child, court officials said, Interfax reported.

The FSB said the plot was hatched by natives of the North Caucasus and connected to a series of terrorist acts in the restive region.

The court said Thursday, however, that Musayev was from Moscow, Interfax reported.

Relatives of Batukayev said they could barely recognize him and that he appeared to have been beaten and drugged during Thursday's court session, human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov said.

The court identified two other suspects by their last names: Asmanov and Khamiyev.

The bomb was discovered hidden in a green Lada sedan parked on Profsoyuznaya Ulitsa in southwest Moscow on Tuesday, Kommersant reported.

The FSB did not specify exactly when the explosive device was found. But the agency said in a statement Thursday that the bomb contained 7 kilograms of plastic explosives as well as ball bearings, which are often used to maximize casualties, and was to be detonated during the recent May Day or Victory Day celebrations. Initial reports said the bomb contained 20 kilograms of explosives.

Residents in the surrounding area were evacuated overnight Tuesday and had the gas turned off in their buildings, the agency said. Apart from explosives, an assault rifle and equipment to detonate the bomb by remote control were also discovered in the car.

An FSB spokesman declined to give further details, but Kommersant reported Thursday that the agency uncovered the plot after a member of the Dagestani radical Islamic group Shariat Jamaat, or Islamic Community of Justice made a deal and told security services the addresses of other members of the group. The newspaper did not say what kind of deal was made.

Shariat Jamaat is a covert network of Islamic militants in Dagestan that proclaimed war against local corrupt officials and abusive law enforcers who were routinely engaged in violent crackdowns on young Muslims.

The information led authorities to one of the group's members, Lors Khamiyev, a Chechen who had previously been arrested in connection with a 2002 bomb attack at a McDonald's restaurant in southwest Moscow. The attack took place days before Chechen rebels took hundreds of people hostage in a Moscow theater. Khamiyev was later released in the McDonald's case and never charged, Kommersant said.

Dozens of Chechens who live near Profsoyuznaya Ulitsa were arrested Wednesday, including an investigator from the Chechen Interior Ministry, the newspaper said.

The FSB statement did not specify how many suspects were arrested in the plot or release their names. But the Vesti-24 news channel identified two detainees as Magomed Aziyev, 26, and Adani Dumkhazhiyev, 29, natives of Dagestan and Chechnya, respectively.

The naming of suspects and their nationalities was criticized by Aslambek Aslakhanov, an ethnic Chechen who advises President Vladimir Putin on ethnic relations.

"To say that there is Chechen connection is immoral," Aslakhanov said, Interfax reported, "I thought the time had passed when no matter what happened they immediately looked for a 'Chechen trail.' It was fashionable at one time."

Aslakhanov said that because a Chechen link was made public, there could be attempts to prove "at any price" that Chechens were behind the plot.

"That, unfortunately, has happened before," Aslakhanov said.