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Islamic State Terrorists Attack Moscow, 137 Killed–Putin Blames “Nazi” Ukraine

On the evening of Friday 22nd, 2024, a group of gunmen of unknown affiliations raided the Crocus City Hall on the outskirts of the Russian capital Moscow, during a rock concert. The raiders set the foyer ablaze with a flammable liquid after continuously opening fire on civilians within the building. Although the raid lasted about 20 minutes, at least 137 people were killed, and at least 60 were wounded. It took nearly 10 hours to extinguish the erupting flames. This was the deadliest attack Russia has experienced in the last 20 years.

The enigma behind the perpetrators of this lethal atrocity was revealed to be The Islamic State (ISIS) the very same day after a statement claiming responsibility. The next day, the Islamic State released a secondary statement in which it declared the raid as a component of ISIS's ongoing campaign against nations that the organization believes are opposing Islam. Indeed, The Islamic State claimed to have attacked a sizable gathering of "Christians" in Krasnogorsk, on the outskirts of Moscow, killing and wounding hundreds of people, in a news report released by the organization’s Aamaq news agency. The statements also disclosed a monumental piece of information—specifically crediting The Islamic State’s Russian branch, which had never been unearthed before.

The claim does not seem to be mere intimidation, considering that Washington had intelligence verifying the claim to the attack made by Islamic State, according to a US official, who also asserted that the US intelligence services had discovered in the weeks prior that the IS branch is preparing an attack in Moscow. He claimed that American officials had privately shared this information with Russian officials months before the attack took place. Warnings were also publicly made; two weeks before the attack in Moscow, the United States had issued a warning about a possible attack that could target big gatherings in the Russian capital. The US Embassy specifically warned Americans against attending events, including concert halls, due to the possibility of a terrorist attack.

Putin had dismissed the warnings, claiming that the “provocative statements” about a possible terrorist attack in Russia “resemble outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilize [their] society” and is no more than a cheap plot by the West, especially closing in on the presidential elections, which Putin won by a landslide right before the attack on Friday.

However, Russia’s US Ambassador Anatoly Antonov refuted these anonymous claims, stating that the embassy had not received any advance warnings privately. “We paid attention to this [public issue of caution], but… I had no contacts with either the White House or the State Department on this issue,” he said.

Dave Primov, who was a victim of the attack, described the chaos and terror to reporters at AP.“There were volleys of gunfire,” Primov told the AP. “We all got up and tried to move toward the aisles. People began to panic, started to run, and collided with each other. Some fell down, and others trampled on them.”

It did not take long for possible assailants to be identified. About 14 hours after the shooting, reports first surfaced; Russia's Federal Security Service announced that 11 suspects had been taken into custody, four of whom were allegedly directly responsible for the attack.

Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni, and Muhammadsobir Fayzov are the four suspects, ranging in age from 19 to 32. They appeared in court in Russia on March 24 with signs of severe beatings against charges of terrorism. The men were from Tajikistan, a former Soviet member, according to the official news agency of Russia.

Authorities said on Monday afternoon that they had identified three more individuals, a father and two brothers, who they thought were involved in the attack.

Despite ISIS's own assertion that the attack was carried out by a domestic branch in Russia, there has been suspicion that the group's Afghanistan division, ISIS-Khorasan, was actually responsible for the tragedy. The information was obtained through infiltrators within the Afghani branch, as claimed by the anonymous official. Russian officials had also claimed to have thwarted other ISIS-K operations in Russia, which further contributes to this theory.

Apart from the fact that the attackers were identified as affiliated with a possible hitherto unseen Russian branch, the Moscow attack seemed to deviate from the pattern followed by the majority of ISIS attacks. Instead of being apprehended or escaping, the group's operatives fight arriving law enforcement officers to death in the majority of their violent attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin blames, however, his current arch-nemesis Ukraine, which Russia invaded more than two years ago. In his first response on Saturday, Putin asserted that Kyiv "prepared a window” for the Tajikistani terrorists, who also held expired Russian passports, to cross the border in order to derail the country and catapult the government into chaos.

That assertion was vehemently refuted by Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, who declared that Vladimir Putin was placing the blame on Ukraine "instead of dealing with his Russian citizens, addressing them."

Putin reiterated on Monday that the attack was carried out by Kyiv, or what he referred to as "the neo-Nazi regime," with the intention of "sowing panic in our society and at the same time showing their own population that all is not lost for the Kyiv regime."

The deputy head of Russia's Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia's Security Council, declared that in case the evidence of Ukraine's involvement is established, everyone concerned “must be tracked down and killed without mercy, including officials of the state that committed such outrage.”

Another narrative as to why ISIS attacked Russia is more prevalent. According to security analysts, the organization views Russia as a top target for a variety of reasons, such as its part in scuttling the Islamic State's base of operations in Syria while safeguarding President Bashar al-Assad's authority, Moscow's two vicious conflicts in the predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya between 1994 and 2009, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Moscow has also bilaterally contacted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to promise support in fighting terrorism, chiefly ISIS. Rather than the invasion of Ukraine, it seems to be Russia’s policies in the South that ignite the enmity of The Islamic State.


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