Moscow concert hall attack: Are you sure it was Islamic State, Russia questions US, alleges Ukraine link

Russia has cast doubt on the United States’ assertion that the Islamic State was behind the Crocus City Hall attack in Moscow on March 23, which killed 133 people and injured hundreds others. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in Russia in two decades, which the US has publicly said it believed. However, Russia has questioned the claim, alleging that the US is attempting to bail Ukraine and its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy out by mentioning the terror outfit.

In an article for the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked the US if they are certain the attack was indeed carried out by the Islamic State.

“Attention, a question for the White House: Are you sure it was ISIS? Won’t you change your mind later?” Zakharova said in the article.

She pointed out that previously, the US’s intervention in middle eastern affairs has resulted in the rise, strengthening and institutionalisation of multiple radical and terrorist groups that, until today, remain active in the region.

“What is the logic, you may ask? Money and power. And, considering the international legal ban on direct interventions, it is also about sowing a ‘controlled chaos’ and reshaping world order by the hands of terrorists,” state-owned TASS news agency reported, quoting the spokeswoman.

Zakharova said the US was spreading a version of the “bogeyman” of Islamic State to cover its “wards” in Kyiv and reminded readers that Washington supported the “mujahideen” fighters who fought the Soviet-era Red Army in the 1980s.

She said that multiple factors directly and indirectly imply the US authorities were involved in sponsoring Ukrainian terrorism.

“The American political engineers cornered themselves with their tales that the Crocus City Hall attack was carried out by the ISIS terror group,” she noted. “Hence Washington’s daily bailing out of its wards in Kyiv, and the attempt to cover itself and the Zelenskyy regime they created with the scarecrow of the outlawed ISIS,” the spokeswoman added.

Islamic State’s news agency Amaq claimed responsibility for the attack on Telegram. Then, the terror outfit released a photo and bodycam footage of what it said were of the four gunmen who carried out the bloodbath on March 23 at the Crocus City Hall, a music venue and a shopping centre. The attack, which happened right before the Soviet-era rock band ‘Picnic’ was supposed to come on stage and perform, was unleashed by the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) – an affiliate of the terror outfit primarily active in Afghanistan.

However, in his address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not specify the Islamic State in connection with the attack. He, instead, said the attackers had been trying to flee to Ukraine, adding that some people on the Ukrainian side had preapred to let the gunmen cross the border from Russia. Ukraine has refuted the allegations, with Zelenskyy accusing Putin of attempting to divert blame.

Soon after the attack, US officials said they warned Russia of intelligence about a possible attack earlier this month.

Four suspects have been charged with carrying out the Moscow concert hall attack, of which, three pleaded guilty during a court appearance on Sunday. All four men are citizens of Tajikistan, and have been remanded in pre-trial custody until May 22.

(With Reuters inputs)

Published On:

Mar 25, 2024

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