MOSCOW, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- An Islamic group with alleged ties to al-Qaida Friday claimed responsibility for the crashes of two Russian planes minutes after take off from Moscow.
The British television network ITV reports a statement on a Web site said, in Arabic: "Our mujahedin in the Islambouli Brigades were able to hijack two Russian planes and they were successful despite the obstacles that faced them at the beginning."
Georgy Mirsky, a senior researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told Moscow Echo radio the group apparently is associating itself with Khaled al-Islambouli, who organized the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The Islambouli Brigade reportedly has ties to al-Qaida.
Russia's Federal Security Service reported finding traces of hexogen, an element in explosives, on the wreckage of one of the planes. A spokesman for the agency called the crash "a terrorist act."
The FSB said the same explosive has been used by Chechnyan militants attempting to free the Muslim province from Russian rule. The investigation is reportedly focusing on two women whose bodies have not been claimed.
The Islambouli Brigade claimed to have at least five cohorts on each plane, a boast Russian security officials say is untrue. The statement said the act was in retaliation for the bitter civil war in Chechnya.
The planes, one bound for Rostov on the Don, and the other for the Black Sea region, went down late Tuesday at almost the same time. Russian authorities at first suggested the crashes were a coincidence.