Last Monday in the Russian city of Volgograd, a 30-year-old woman from Dagestan named Naida Akhiyalova boarded a bus. Akhiyalova, a convert to Islam, soon afterward exploded a jihad-martyrdom suicide bomb vest, killing herself, murdering six other people, and injuring over 30 more. The vest, as it turned out, was a gift from Akhiyalova’s 22-year-old husband, Dmitry Sokolov, himself also a convert to Islam.
Nothing says “I’m just not that into you” quite like giving your wife a suicide vest. The immediate explanation for Sokolov’s gift to his bride was that he had grown disenchanted with a wife eight years his senior, and found a convenient means to get her out of the way – however much his marriage to an older woman resembled that of Muhammad to Khadija, his first wife, who was fifteen years older than the prophet of Islam.
However, that scenario doesn’t account for why Sokolov didn’t just say the triple talaq (“I divorce you”), which would have rid him of Akhiyalova quickly, easily, and painlessly. Nor does it explain why Akhiyalova was apparently willing to get on the bus, even though she knew it would be her last ride.
Not much is known about her at this point, but it may be that she was a true believer. There are, after all, numerous precedents. On June 21, 2005, a 21-year-old Muslim woman named Wafa Samir al-Biss tried to kill herself and murder as many infidels as possible at an Israeli checkpoint, but her explosive vest failed to detonate. She recounted later that day that her “dream was to be a martyr. I believe in death.”