US says ISIS responsible for deadly Moscow concert hall attack

A branch of the Islamic State on Friday claimed responsibility for the massacre in a Moscow concert hallone of the deadliest attacks in Russia in decades, and U.S. officials confirmed the claim shortly afterward.

The United States gathered intelligence in March that Islamic State-Khorasanknown as ISIS-K, the group's branch based in Afghanistan, was preparing an attack on Moscow, officials said. ISIS members are active in Russia, a US official said.

After a period of relative calm, the Islamic State is trying to step up its external attacks, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. Most of these plots in Europe were foiled, suggesting that the group had diminished capabilities.

“ISIS-K has been obsessed with Russia for two years,” frequently criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin in its propaganda, said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a New York-based security consulting firm. “ISIS-K accuses the Kremlin of having Muslim blood on its hands, referring to Moscow's interventions in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria.”

Friday's attack in Moscow, like the January attack in Iran claimed by the group, could prompt a reassessment of its ability to strike outside its home territory.

In addition to publicly warning on March 7 of a possible attack, U.S. officials said they had privately briefed Russian officials on intelligence indicating an imminent attack. It is unclear how much information the United States provided to Russian officials beyond what was included in the public warning.

U.S. intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” potential targets of dangers when they become aware of them.

The United States had warned Iran of a possible attack before two January bombings that killed dozens and injured hundreds at a memorial service for former Iranian general Qassim Suleimani , killed by an American drone strike four years earlier.

Western intelligence agencies had been collecting intelligence on possible planning by ISIS-K to bomb the service. As in Russia, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for this attack.

Related Articles

Back to top button