ISIS Attack Kills 133 in Russia

The burned facade of the Crocus City Hall concert venue
The burned facade of the Crocus City Hall concert venue | Image by Sergei Vedyashkin/Moscow News Agency

A terrorist attack in the Moscow area that killed at least 133 people on Friday may have been carried out by ISIS-Khorasan, the Afghani affiliate of the notorious terrorist organization.

President Vladimir Putin, who has vowed “vengeance,” indicated he believes Ukraine may have facilitated the attack. The attack was the deadliest terror-related incident seen in Russia in nearly 20 years. Ukrainian officials have denied any involvement in the attack.

U.S. intelligence agencies allegedly warned Russia of the potential of an “imminent” attack, however, Putin purportedly discounted the warning as American propaganda, according to CNN.

Russian authorities noted 11 individuals, including four gunmen, have been detained.

“They tried to hide and moved towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border,” Putin said, as reported by Reuters. “All the perpetrators, organizers, and those who ordered this crime will be justly and inevitably punished. Whoever they are, whoever is guiding them, we will identify and punish everyone who stands behind the terrorists, who prepared this atrocity, this strike against Russia, against our people.”

Multiple sources reported that the attack happened at Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk. Four gunmen entered the facility in camouflage and began shooting. At least one fire was ignited, which caused a partial collapse of the roof. Initially, Russian authorities reported 60 dead and more than 100 injured, but that toll was revised upward on Saturday after more victims were found beneath the rubble. At least 103 are currently hospitalized, including three children.

ISIS-Khorasan is the same terrorist cell that used a suicide bomber against U.S. personnel during the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. The bombing killed 13 American service members and 170 evacuees fleeing the country as the Taliban retook control, according to a report by ABC.

Some critics of Putin are claiming that he will use Friday’s attack to repress Russian citizens further and consolidate his power. Putin was recently re-elected in a landslide victory. At least one critic has said that security forces were not available due to the ongoing war with Ukraine. It purportedly took an hour and a half for security to reach the venue, primarily due to traffic congestion.

Nikolay Mitrokhin, a research fellow at Germany’s University of Bremen, told Al Jazeera that the entire security apparatus of Russia showed “incompetence” in its handling of the attack.

“Where are the helicopters for speedy deployment to critical sites in the metropolitan conditions of Moscow? Where are the armed vehicles? Where are these pumped-up stern guys from [promotional] videos?” Mitrokhin asked. “We know where they are — burned down with their vehicles on the roads of the Kyiv region, sitting in underground holes near Donetsk or patrolling the Luhansk region … not where the real danger is but there the crazy president decided to wage a war.”

American intelligence sources have allegedly found no link between the attack and Ukraine, despite several Russian news agencies claiming the besieged country had opened a “window” for the attackers to escape. The suspected terrorists were arrested Friday night about 210 miles south of Moscow and have been described as “foreign nationals” by Russia.

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