ISIS Attacks Moscow Concert Venue: US Warnings Ignored

 In the days leading up to a horrific attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue near Moscow, the US had warned Russia of ISIS militants’ intent to target the country. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed these warnings as “provocative.”

On Friday, gunmen stormed the concert hall, opening fire and throwing an incendiary device, marking the worst terrorist attack on the Russian capital in decades. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack.

The scale of the carnage, some of which was captured in video footage obtained by CNN, is said to be deeply embarrassing for Putin. Just a week earlier, he had won the country’s stage-managed election, championing a message of national security.

Critics argue that not only did Russian intelligence services fail to prevent the attack, but Putin also failed to heed warnings from the US that extremists were plotting to target Moscow.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia had stated it was “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow,” including concerts. It had warned US citizens to avoid such places.

US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US government had “shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy.”

Despite these warnings, Putin blasted the American warnings as “provocative” in a speech on Tuesday, accusing the US of attempting to “intimidate and destabilize our society.”

This stance was taken despite several ISIS-related incidents reported by Russian authorities within the past month.

According to state-run RIA Novosti, six ISIS members were killed in a counter-terrorist operation in the Ingush Karabulak on March 3. On March 7, it reported that security services had uncovered and “neutralized” a cell of the banned organization Vilayat Khorasan in the Kaluga region, whose members were planning an attack on a synagogue in Moscow. On March 20, it reported the detention of an ISIS combat group commander.

Two sources familiar with the American information revealed that since November, there had been a steady stream of intelligence indicating that ISIS-K, an affiliate of ISIS active in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, was determined to attack Russia.

Moscow has notably intervened in Syria’s civil war, supporting President Bashar al-Assad and opposing ISIS.

Michael Kugelman of the Washington-based Wilson Center, quoted by Reuters, said that ISIS-K “sees Russia as being complicit in activities that regularly oppress Muslims.” He added that the group also includes a number of Central Asian militants who hold their own grievances against Moscow.

A US official stated on Friday that Washington had no reason to doubt ISIS’ claim of responsibility for the latest attack.

Following reports of the Crocus City Hall attack on Friday, the US embassy advised US citizens against traveling to Russia

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