In Moscow, terrorist attack or special operation?

George Marinescu
English Section / 25 martie

The alleged attackers at the Moscow concert hall, before the attack (below) and after they were detained by Russian forces

The alleged attackers at the Moscow concert hall, before the attack (below) and after they were detained by Russian forces

Versiunea în limba română

Despite the fact that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on the shopping center near Moscow and insists on doing so, Vladimir Putin insists on pointing the finger at Ukraine. Around this terrorist attack, each camp associates the authors who agree with them. While the coalition against Russia, to create terrorist groups ISIS as the author of the terrorist attack, there are inherent scenarios that claim that the Russians attacked themselves, while the partisans of Russia and Vladimir Putin say that the attack was staged by Ukraine and the USA.

The only certainty for our readers is that the terrorist attack took place and it is credible that it had so many victims: 133 dead and 154 wounded, according to yesterday's tally as of 2 p.m. It can be used by Putin at any time to retaliate against states . neighboring Russia, even against Poland or the Republic of Moldova. And this was demonstrated yesterday morning when the forces of the Russian Federation launched a massive air attack on the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, but also on other large cities in the neighboring country, including Lvov, located on the border with Poland, an attack that prompted the Polish forces to fly more fighter jets to defend the national territory. The Polish Ministry of Defense reported that in the early part of the night of March 24, a long-range cruise missile launched by the Russian aviation flew into the country's airspace. According to Warsaw officials, the missile flew over Polish airspace for 39 seconds. According to the Polish Ministry of Defense, the missile flew at 4:23 local time (6:23 Moscow time) near the town of Ocerdow, near the border with Ukraine . That is why the relevant minister in Warsaw launched "all the necessary procedures to ensure the safety of Polish airspace".

The terrorist attack near Moscow shows that no citizen of the world is safe, not even citizens of the state led by Vladimir Putin, and that those who viewed the superiority of the October 7, 2023 terrorist attacks against Israel by asking what the Mossad was guarding are now wondering what guarded by the FSB. These are some circumstances that show that at the moment they are taking care of the terrorists, the biggest unknown for intelligence services anywhere, including the Romanian Intelligence Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service.

We do not yet know whether the terrorist attack at Crocus Hall has a turning point in the current war in Ukraine, but it is certain that the Kremlin authorities will do anything to link the terrorists to the regime in Kiev. Thus, yesterday, on the X network, several photos appeared with an identity document of one of the four terrorists, a document that seemed to be issued by the Ukrainian authorities, and those who post their photos with Rustam Azhiyev, claimed based on the documents that they are and Ukrainian citizenship and that in the year 2022 he would actually have been enlisted in the military forces of that country. But a terrorist's citizenship should not be linked to the activity of that state. For the climbs of the Russian Federation they sent initials to the Crocus Hall terrorists are Tajiks. This does not mean that the authorities in Tajikistan are to blame for the terrorist watch in Moscow, because if we were to enter into that logic, it would mean that Russia would attack the former Soviet republic.

One of the terrorists even stated that he came to Russia from Turkey on March 4. Is it Turkey's fault, or rather the Erdogan regime, that a terrorist slipped through the country's authorities to get to Russia and kill innocent people at Crocus Hall? No way.

ISW claims ISIS claim of terrorist attack and only valid theory

A question mark also arises regarding the communication with the four terrorists arrested by Russian forces. It is known that ISIS militants do not speak, are not volu in front of the cameras and accept their fate - torture or death, without complaint, with the belief that once dead they will join the Heavens of Muhammad where they will receive the reward for their martyrdom and. for killing the infidels. In the images released by the Russian authorities, the terrorists talk, they say that they were going to receive a million rubles each for the attack, that they were contacted in this regard by people they do not know and who told them what to do. It is clear from their statements that we are not dealing with militant Islamic terrorists, but rather with mercenary terrorists, which would cast a heavy shadow on the repeated claim of the attack to ISIS.

It is more curious how one of the four terrorists was questioned the other day in a hospital bed, in the presence of a translator, although the authorities in Moscow let it be understood that he previously worked in a barbershop. Or, as is known, hairdresser's is in any corner of the world the place where dialogue is at home, and practically the terrorist could have learned Russian quickly.

However, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says it is highly unlikely that the Islamic State terrorist group carried out the attack on the orders of Ukrainian special services.

ISW says: "The Amaq news agency, which has repeatedly announced that the attack was the work of ISIS, is the terrorist group's central media arm. The Islamic State would not falsely claim an attack that might have been carried out by one Christian state against another (or by the Kremlin against Russia's own people in some kind of false flag operation), because such a situation-of to carry out a terrorist attack at the behest of the authorities of a Christian state - would damage the credibility of ISIS within the Salafist-Jihadist community".

Furthermore, news was posted on the X network that between early March and last Friday's attack, Russian authorities had destroyed several Islamic State terrorist cells. Ria Novosti reported that on March 3 Russian forces killed 6 ISIS terrorists in Ingush-Karabulak, and on March 7 it showed that Russian security services neutralized an ISIS terrorist cell in the Kaluga region, whose members were planning to attack a synagogue in Moscow.

Maria Zaharova: "Statements from Washington regarding Kiev's non-involvement, treated with reserve until the investigation is completed"

Regarding the announcement made immediately, on Friday evening, by the American authorities according to which Ukraine is not involved in the Crocus Hall attack, Maria Zaharova, the head of the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation stated: "The official representative of the National Security Council of the USA, Adrienne Watson: «Ukraine is not involved in the terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk, ISIS is to blame».

If only he could solve the assassination of his own President Kennedy so quickly. But no, for more than 60 years, Americans have not been able to find out who killed him. Or maybe he was also killed by ISIS? Or will they postpone the disclosure for another 60 years, playing with any "constructive uncertainty"? Or take the terrorist attack that destroyed the Nord Stream pipeline? There, according to the United States (The New York Times cited several American officials in this regard), the Ukrainians were involved. True, then the US authorities were silent and probably still looking for divers from Kiev or ISIS. There was no word from Washington asking Denmark and Sweden not to stop looking for those responsible, and Russia's proposal for an investigation under the auspices of the UN was blocked by the Anglo-Saxons in the Security Council. All of this suggests that American political elites have become adept over the decades at carefully diverting attention from high-profile crimes and all kinds of preparations. Therefore, until the investigation into the terrorist attack at Crocus Hall is completed, any statement from Washington regarding Kiev's non-involvement will be treated with caution."

For her part, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the TV station Russia Today, one of the journalists close to the Kremlin, said: "There were no "martyr belts" on terrorists. Overnight reports that a doctor had found an explosive device on a body have not been confirmed. None of them had to die. Practically none of them were religious fanatics. ISIS was nowhere near there. They were hired by Ukraine and its patrons, they hired killers for money."

Reserve Colonel Bakhtiar Rakhmonov, a former FSB officer, claimed that the recruitment of killers for the terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall concert hall near Moscow was done through the Ukrainian Embassy in Tajikistan. According to a capture on the website of the respective embassy, captured by Rakhmonov and presented by RIA Novosti, a few weeks before the terrorist attack a message was posted inviting foreigners to join the so-called "International Legion" fighting for defense of Ukraine.

Regarding the tragedy at Crocus Hall, the vice-president of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, wrote, on the official Telegram network page, that those involved in the terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall on March 22 are a "legal target" for Russia. regardless of their country of origin".

Kremlin claims terrorists have been arrested. ISIS says the attackers have returned to their base

The terrorist attack at Crocus Hall took place on the evening of March 22. Several armed men entered the concert hall building, fired on the people inside and then set the building on fire. As a result of the terrorist attack, 133 people were killed and 154 were injured.

On March 23, 11 people were detained in connection with the terrorist attack, four of whom were the perpetrators of the terrorist attack. In mass-media reported that the suspects are from Tajikistan. Militants of the Islamic State (recognized as terrorists and banned in Russia) declared their involvement in the incident. According to the preliminary data of the investigation, the detainees were heading to Ukraine, where "a window" was being prepared to cross the border. It is not specified who would have prepared the respective breach at the Russian-Ukrainian border: the authorities, friends of the terrorists or other interested persons. However, ISIS issued a statement yesterday claiming that all four of its attackers had "returned to base".

President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the members of the National Security Council on Saturday, after which, in a televised speech, he stated that all those guilty of the terrorist attack will be punished in an exemplary manner and declared that Sunday, March 24, is a day of national mourning. The Russian president hinted in his speech that the terrorists would have been supported from Ukraine and that their henchmen from the neighboring country would help them flee the Russian Federation.

The authorities in Kiev denied any involvement in the tragic event in Russia, and US representatives indicated from the first moments that the attack appeared to have been carried out by ISIS militants. Their statements were later confirmed by several posts by the ISIS-K group, which featured images filmed during the terrorist attack and claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to the Al Jazeera television station, ISIS-K chose Russia as a target because of the opposition of the Kremlin authorities to the terrorist group and to the actions of Russian forces in Syria and Afghanistan. Politico-military experts consulted by Al Jazeera say the Moscow attack is an attempt by ISIS-K to demonstrate its global power and influence and to avenge Russia's recent actions against the terrorist group. The Afghanistan-based ISIS-K group, also known as ISIS-Khorasan, which claimed responsibility for the attack, is known for its brutality, having been responsible for several major attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere in Asia.

Earlier this year, the US intercepted communications confirming that the group had carried out two simultaneous attacks in Iran that killed nearly 100 people. In September 2022, ISIS-K militants claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing at the Russian embassy in Kabul. The group was also responsible for an attack on Kabul International Airport in 2021 that killed 13 US soldiers and dozens of civilians during the chaotic evacuation of US troops from Afghanistan.

According to a January 2024 UN report, the Taliban's efforts to defeat the group have led to a decrease in the number of attacks inside Afghanistan. However, the bombings did not stop.

Last Thursday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside a bank in the Afghan city of Kandahar that killed at least three people and wounded 12, local police said.

Support for Russia, from the international community

Friday night's tragedy put the rivalry between the Western world and the Russian Federation on hold for a moment, with most Western political leaders offering condolences to the authorities in Moscow and blaming terrorism.

The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, condemned the attack as a "heinous" act and said: "We condemn terrorism in all its forms and express our solidarity with the Russian people who mourn the loss of life following this atrocious event."

US authorities said that as early as March 7, they had warned the Russian Federation of an imminent terrorist attack in Moscow. That same day, one of the terrorists from Crocus Hall visited the location to see where they were going to attack. That photographer appeared yesterday when, following the apprehension of the four terrorists and their interrogation, one of the mall's photographers remembered seeing one of them before.

In a post on the X social network, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the "terrible terrorist attack on innocent spectators at a concert in Moscow". "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and all the injured," added Scholz.

The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, condemned, for her part, "cowardly and inhuman terror, wherever it is", saying that she is with the families of the victims. The German Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck, also sent "condolences to the victims and their families", asking for "rapid clarification of the context" of the attack.

From London, the British foreign minister, David Cameron, in turn condemned the "deadly terrorist attack".

NATO and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, condemned the attack in Moscow.

Farah Dakhlallah, NATO spokesperson, said: "We condemn without exception the attacks that targeted concertgoers in Moscow. Nothing can justify such abominable crimes," while Ursula von der Leyen said: "I strongly condemn the terrorist attack against civilians in Crocus City Hall in Moscow, claimed by the Islamic State. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families at this tragic time."

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk strongly condemned the "brutal attack" committed on Friday evening on the outskirts of Moscow, and expressed the hope that this tragic event would not become "a pretext" for an "escalation of violence and aggression".

At a rally in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the terrorist attack and said: "Terrorism is unacceptable, no matter where it comes from or who commits it."

The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, sent her condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Moscow.

"Moldova condemns terrorism and any act of violence against civilians, against innocent people", said Maia Sandu who specified that, according to the data collected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are no Moldovan citizens among the victims.

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent its condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Moscow and shows in a message posted on the X network that "Romania strongly condemns any form of terrorism and all attacks against civilians".

Yesterday, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, was lit up in the colors of the Russian flag to commemorate the victims of the Crocus Concert Hall terror attack in Moscow, according to the official UAE news agency WAM.

Pope Francis prayed, yesterday, during the Holy Liturgy performed at the Vatican on the occasion of Palm Sunday for Catholics, for the victims of the "cowardly" terrorist attack in Moscow. Pope Francis said: "May the Lord receive them in His peace and comfort their families. May He convert the hearts of those who plan, organize and carry out these inhuman actions, which offend God, who commanded: "Thou shalt not kill".

What is certain is that in the last three days, the world has changed and is waiting for the next steps of the Kremlin authorities, uncertainty being the watchword regarding global and especially regional peace.