IS Claims Responsibility for Moscow Attack: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Incident and Its Implications

 


In a recent incident, four individuals were brought before a Moscow court, three of them blindfolded and one in a wheelchair, all accused of terrorism. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack that took place at Crocus City Hall on Friday, even releasing a video of the incident.

Despite a lack of concrete evidence, Russian authorities have suggested Ukrainian involvement, a claim that Kyiv has dismissed as “absurd”. The four accused have been identified as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni, and Muhammadsobir Fayzov.

Footage reveals three of the accused being led blindfolded into the Basmanny district court in Moscow by masked police. All appeared to have sustained injuries. Mirzoyev and Rachabalizoda had blackened eyes, with the latter’s ear heavily bandaged, reportedly due to partial severance during his arrest. Fariduni’s face was noticeably swollen, and Fayzov, who was wheeled into court, seemed to be missing an eye.

According to a court statement on Telegram, Mirzoyev, a Tajikistan citizen, and Rachabalizoda have both admitted their guilt. The court has ordered all four to be held in pre-trial detention until at least May 22.

The arrests were made shortly after four gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall on the outskirts of Moscow on Friday night, opening fire on an estimated crowd of 6,000 attending a rock concert. The attackers also set fires, causing the venue’s roof to collapse. Russian authorities reported 137 fatalities and over 100 injuries.


IS claimed the attack within hours, attributing it to a branch known as the Islamic State in Khorasan, or IS-K. They later released graphic footage of the attackers firing on the concert crowd, which the BBC has verified as genuine.

Despite the IS claim, Russian officials have suggested, without evidence, that the attackers were assisted by Ukraine and were in the Bryansk region preparing to cross the border at the time of their arrest. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected these claims on Sunday, with his military intelligence directorate calling the suggestion that the men were attempting to cross a heavily mined border teeming with Russian soldiers “absurd”. Seven other individuals have been arrested in Russia on suspicion of aiding the attack.

The US had previously warned Moscow of a potential large-scale attack in Russia earlier this month, subsequently issuing a public advisory to its citizens in the country. The Kremlin dismissed the alert as propaganda and an attempt to interfere in its presidential election. Following the attack, Washington stated that it had no reason to doubt the IS claim.

This is not the first time IS and its allies have targeted Russia or its interests abroad. The group claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian plane over Egypt in 2015, which resulted in 224 fatalities, most of them Russian citizens. They also claimed a 2017 bomb attack on the St Petersburg metro, which killed 15 people.

Security analysts suggest that IS considers Russia a primary target for a variety of reasons, including Russia’s role in dismantling IS’s stronghold in Syria while securing President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, Moscow’s two brutal wars in Muslim-majority Chechnya from 1994-2009, and the Soviet-era invasion of Afghanistan.

IS-K, which primarily operates in Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia, is among the most capable and its name is based on an old term for the region.

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