Those who knew Akbarjon Djalilov described him as a "common guy" and an "adequate person."
Accounts on Russian social networks that allegedly belonged to the Kyrgyz-born young man do not bear an indication of any suspicious activities or connections to radical Islam. The few pictures in Djalilov's profile on VKontakte, Russia's biggest social network, depict interests typical for a person of his age: a slim, dark-haired young man sitting in a bar with friends and smoking a hookah.
According to Russia's Investigative Committee, the federation's primary investigating authority, Djalilov was the suicide bomber who committed the St. Petersburg metro attack on Monday afternoon, killing 14 and injuring dozens of other passengers. He also left a bag with another bomb at a different metro station in the city, the committee said in a statement on Tuesday. That bomb, however, failed to detonate.
Investigators used footage from the metro system's surveillance cameras and the results of DNA samples left on the bag to point them to Djalilov. After revealing his identity on Tuesday, the internet was flooded with details of the suspected terrorist's life before the attack.
"Kind and quiet family"
Djalilov, an ethnic Uzbek, was born on April 1, 1995. He turned 22 just two days before detonating a bomb in a train on the St. Petersburg metro system. Before acquiring Russian citizenship and moving to St. Petersburg in 2011, the young man lived in his native town of Osh in the south of Kyrgyzstan. According to some media reports, his family still lives there.
In an interview with Russian news agency Interfax, his parents' neighbors said Djalilov "had deft fingers and could do any work very well." As a teenager, Djalilov worked at an auto body repair shop where he was much appreciated, one neighbor said. The neighbor added that the young man had also renovated and equipped the house in Osh, where the suspect's family currently lives.
"It is a very kind and quiet family. The father used to attend a mosque on Fridays, but none of them has ever been a religious bigot," the neighbor said.
Skillful worker and possible sportsman
By the time Djalilov moved to St. Petersburg, his father had reportedly been living and working there for a few years. According to one report, Djalilov helped him at an auto repair shop in town. His father later returned to Osh, reports said.
Djalilov also worked as a cook at a sushi delivery chain, where, according to a former colleague's report in the Moscow-based daily newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets," Djalilov made sushi skillfully. In his spare time, Djalilov attended a sports club for mixed marital arts. He subscribed to a few mixed martial arts groups on Vkontakte as well.
"I saw him a couple of times in the sports hall. But it was very long ago," Salam Khudoerdzoda, who attended the same club, told news agency Ria Novosti. Khudoerdzoda also added that Djalilov was not very keen on sports.
Fatal trip home?
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Djalilov had any connections to radical Islamist influences that might have influenced his decision to commit the attack in the St. Petersburg metro. Thus far, no terror organization has claimed responsibility for Monday's blast.
The news that the Investigative Committee suspected Djalilov in the attack came as a surprise to his family, his aunt Yarkinoi told the Kyrgyz news portal Kloop.kg. She pointed out that her nephew had never been too religious. "He was a boy who was wearing ripped jeans," she said, adding that Djalilov had been "the most obedient" among the three children in the family.
Neither Djalilov nor his family members ever came under the eye of Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies for any connections with extremist organizations, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing a source in a Kyrgyz law enforcement body.
However, some Russian media have suggested that the young man might have radicalized during his roughly month-long visit to Kyrgyzstan in February. Djalilov "came back as a totally different person," Interfax reported, citing an unidentified "source familiar with the situation."
"He became short-spoken and reserved. Law enforcement agencies suggest that Djalilov was recruited by extremists," the source said in Interfax.
On Wednesday, Djalilov's parents arrived in St. Petersburg to identify their son's body and participate in a police interrogation. The couple refused to talk to the reporters who met them at the airport.
However, Djalilov's mother did have a concise and precise response when asked whether she believed that her son committed the attack: "I don't believe it," she said.