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Russia admits Islamic State behind Crocus Hall terrorist attack, still tries to blame Ukraine

by Chris York May 24, 2024 10:40 AM 3 min read
A Russian law enforcement officer patrols near the Crocus City Hall concert hall outside Moscow, Russia, on March 23, 2024, after the terrorist attack that killed at least 144 people. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia has for the first time said Islamic State (IS) was behind the deadly terrorist attack on Moscow's Crocus City Hall, but still claims Ukraine played a role in assisting the attackers, Russian media reported on May 24.

Several gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, a Moscow suburb, on the evening of March 22, killing at least 145 people and injuring more than 500 others.

In comments reported by state-run RIA Novosti news agency, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), said the preparations, financing, attack, and retreat of those involved were "coordinated via the internet by members of Khorasan Province (IS-K)," a branch of IS active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The investigation is ongoing, but it is already safe to say that Ukrainian military intelligence is directly involved in this attack," he alleged at a meeting of the Council of Heads of Security Agencies and Special Services of the CIS Member States in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

"Upon completing the attack, the terrorists received clear instructions to move toward the Ukrainian border, where from the other side a 'window' had been prepared for them," he added without providing any evidence of Kyiv's involvement.

Ukraine has categorically denied any connection to the attack, and the White House has said there was no indication that Kyiv was behind it.

In the days following the attacks, Russian authorities detained around a dozen men. More than half of the suspects who have been detained are from Tajikistan, four of whom are accused of personally carrying out the attack.

They appeared in court showing clear signs of abuse at the hands of the Russian authorities.

Despite IS claiming responsibility, Putin, along with other top Russian officials, sought to pin the blame on Ukraine without providing any evidence.

Putin on March 25 said "radical Islamists" were behind the attack but did not mention IS specifically, claiming they were linked to Ukraine but without providing any evidence.

Opinion: Why ISIS attacked Russia and why Russia blames Ukraine
The terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue in a Moscow suburb was no bolt from the blue. The Kremlin dismissed U.S. intelligence warnings of an imminent attack by “extremists,” possibly to shift the blame to a convenient scapegoat when the attack came. The murder of

On March 31, Russia's Foreign Ministry called for the arrest and extradition of the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Maliuk.

More than 50% of Russians believe that Ukrainian leadership is responsible for the shooting at the Crocus City Hall concert hall outside Moscow, the Financial Times (FT) reported on March 30, citing a survey by OpenMinds, an Anglo-Ukrainian online pollster.

Around 27% of respondents blamed the Islamic State (ISIS), while another 6% pointed to the so-called "collective West," namely the U.S., the U.K., and NATO.

The U.S. government warned Russia that the Crocus City Hall concert venue in suburban Moscow was a potential terrorist target over two weeks before the attack, the Washington Post reported on April 2.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Washington Post said that the U.S. specifically identified Crocus City Hall as a possible ISIS target in their briefings to Moscow. The disclosure calls into question the Kremlin's claims that U.S. warnings were too "general" to prevent an attack.

Putin publicly dismissed Western warnings of potential terrorist attacks as "outright blackmail" and attempted "to destabilize our society" days before the mass shooting.

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