March 27, 2024



While the Kremlin is trying to link Ukraine to the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack, the Islamic State (ISIS), specifically its Afghan branch known as ISIS-K, has claimed responsibility for the shooting at the concert hall in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region.

Crocus City Hall

The Islamic group calling itself the Khorasan State (ISIS-K), named after the old name of a region that included parts of Iran, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan, emerged in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014 and quickly gained a reputation for extreme brutality.

Among the motives for this group to see Russia as its enemy, experts say Moscow’s involvement in the global fight against ISIS and its affiliates, especially through Russian military operations in Syria and its efforts to establish ties with the Afghan Taliban, ISIS-K’s rival on its territory.

So there is a reason to commit a terrorist attack, but is it worth putting Russia and ISIS on opposite sides of the barricades?

Russia is the main “exporter” of militants to ISIS

After all, since the emergence of ISIS, information has been repeatedly spread that Russia is interested in the existence of such a terrorist group in the Middle East.

Back in 2015, the Chief of the General Staff of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Major General Ahmed Khalid Birri, stated that “…Russia cooperates with both the regime and ISIS. In other words, Russia does not aim to fight terrorism”. He suggested that the Russians, through their actions in Syria, are seeking to take advantage of the world’s second largest gas fields located in the east of the city of Holmes and other parts of the country.

In addition, the general emphasized that only 5 percent of Russian attacks are directed against ISIS. The remaining 95 percent are aimed at the positions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

“The existence and activities of ISIS were indeed beneficial for Russia, because the presence of the group and the fight against it (or its imitation) influenced the rise in oil prices. Also, the “fight” against the Islamic Caliphate was and remains a convenient excuse for Russia to build up its military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia and deepen the military and political integration of the region’s states with Russia,” says Serhii Kuzan, head of the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center.

So, given such actions and statements, it is perhaps not surprising that the Russians themselves are fueling this movement.

According to the report “Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Their Return” published in October 2017 by the Soufan Group consulting company, Russia turned out to be the

main “exporter” of fighters to the Islamic State terrorist group. At that time, 3417 Russians were fighting for ISIS.

“Few people talk about it, but within ISIS – this terrorist organization – Russians were the second largest ethnic group. It was one of the most numerous groups. For years, Russian citizens have been leaving Russia through Dagestan, and then they ended up joining the ISIS group, mainly in its Syrian division. It is very interesting that when they left through Dagestan, they all received insurance through the Russian Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund. All of them had certain benefits, insurance, etc.,” says Oleksandr Kovalenko, a military and political observer at the Information Resistance group.

Terror has a Russian face

By frightening the world with ISIS and, as we can see, supporting it, Russia has been imposing on the international community the idea that terrorism cannot be defeated without it, and therefore, it must be fought together.

“The series of terrorist attacks that took place in Brussels confirms the rightness of those who aim the EU at cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism and who emphasize that the main threat to European security comes not from Russia, but from international terrorist organizations,” said Alexei Pushkov, then head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, commenting on the 2016 terrorist attack in the Belgian capital.

Other people close to the Russian government, including the head of the Public Committee under the Russian Defense Ministry, Igar Korotchenko, spoke in a similar vein, calling on Europe to abandon the policy of sanctions against Russia against the backdrop of the Paris attacks.

By shifting the world’s attention to finding enemies outside its borders and portraying itself as their victim, Russia, meanwhile, is incomparable to ISIS in terms of the number of crimes and the way they were committed and now has the status of the world’s No. 1 terrorist organization. After all, it is the country that unleashed the bloodiest war in Europe since World War II, commits war crimes and genocide of civilians in Ukraine, threatens the world with nuclear war, and seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

There is so much blood on Russia’s hands that it does not deserve the image of a victim country and, accordingly, sympathy while it destroys civilian cities and kills civilians every day.

“Please note: the terrorist attack in the Russian suburbs, which was allowed to take place by the Russian special services and was not prevented by the Russian Guard units because they are currently deployed in Ukraine, did not affect the plans for Russia’s missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilian targets. In the four days since March 22, Russia has used 270 weapons (ballistic and cruise missiles, drones, and the Zircon hypersonic missile) for air attacks on the territory of Ukraine. Among them, it is worth highlighting the March terrorist attack, which used a record number of munitions, on critical infrastructure, including the Zaporizhzhia hydroelectric power plant. How else can this be called but terror in its worst manifestation,” S. Kuzan asks a rhetorical question.

According to the UN, the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine, according to official figures alone, has killed more than 10,000 civilians. The actual number may be much higher.

The Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations, according to the Office of the Prosecutor General, contains information on more than 128,000 victims of Russian war crimes, and this number is growing every day. In addition, according to juvenile prosecutors, 1796 children have suffered as a result of Russian aggression, 535 of whom were killed and 1261 sustained injuries of varying severity. The department emphasizes that these figures are not final, as work is underway to establish them in the areas of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories.

Today, the Russian military conducts daily missile and bomb attacks on the border regions of Sumy region, terrorizing the civilian population and wiping out entire villages with guided aerial bombs. Contrary to the version that ISIS was involved in the terrorist attack in Moscow, Russian pilots still blame Ukrainians for it and write “for the victims of Crocus City Hall” on the bombs that are used to destroy Ukrainian villages.

Similarly, despite the fact that the two detainees on suspicion of committing a terrorist attack came from Turkey, Russia does not accuse Turks of organizing the crime, but stubbornly insists on a “window” on the Ukrainian border.

But no matter how hard Moscow tries to hide its crimes and blame them on others, the international community reacts with skepticism.

The West does not believe in tears

On October 13, 2022, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution recognizing Russia as a terrorist regime. This is the first international institution to respond to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call to officially label Russia’s actions in Ukraine as terrorism.

Therefore, it is through this prism that the statements made by the world’s leading countries after the terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall should be considered.

The United States, for example, immediately rejected Ukraine’s involvement in the attack, emphasizing that Russia had been warned about the threat of such a terrorist attack in advance.

In turn, the United Kingdom warned the Russian president against using the terrorist attack as a pretext to intensify the war. Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also emphasized that there were no signs of a connection between the terrorist attack and Ukraine.

At the same time, Germany has warned against assigning Russia an excessive role of victim after the attack in Crocus City Hall. For example, the head of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael Roth, reminded that Russia itself acts as a terrorist state: “We sympathize with the many innocent victims in Moscow. However, we must not forget that Russia is a terrorist state itself, which once again terrorized Ukrainian civilians with missile and drone attacks last night. Those who sow terror reap terror.”

Roderich Kiesewetter, a spokesperson for the Foreign Policy of the parliamentary faction of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, does not rule out that the terrorist attack near Moscow was a false flag operation organized by Russia itself.

“At this point, we cannot rule out that this was a false flag operation organized by Russia itself, even if an Islamist background seems quite likely, especially given that ISIS has claimed responsibility,” he said.

According to Serhii Kuzan, even the current ISIS statement does not affect Putin’s desire to implicate Ukraine in the terrorist attack.

“He wants to divert attention from the crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. This is the same handwriting as during the 1999 terrorist attacks. With this disinformation, Russia pursues a dual goal: to force the West to cut military aid to Ukraine and to mobilize the Russian population again, as it is tired of the war,” commented the head of the USCC on Russian intentions for the Belgian edition of L’echo.

These statements imply that the Kremlin itself would have the ability to fight terrorism if it had not sent its own troops to Ukraine and had not focused its efforts on persecuting the opposition, detaining Russians for anti-war posts on social media, and using huge human and financial resources to justify and wage war. And if terror must be punished, then the one who unleashed it, Russia, deserves this punishment first and foremost.