Gunmen in Moscow Concert Hall Attack Identified as Radical Islamists, Putin Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that the gunmen responsible for the deadly concert hall attack in a Moscow suburb last week were “radical Islamists.” Speaking in a meeting with government officials, Putin described the attackers as extremists aligned with an ideology that the Islamic world has been combating for centuries. However, he did not explicitly mention the Islamic State (IS) group, which claimed responsibility for the attack. Putin also refrained from identifying the mastermind behind the assault but emphasized the need to investigate why the terrorists attempted to flee to Ukraine and who aided them there.

While the IS affiliate’s claim of responsibility was supported by U.S. intelligence, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that France possesses intelligence pointing to an IS entity as the orchestrator of the Moscow attack. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to assign blame, urging patience for the ongoing investigation in Russia. He also refused to comment on reports suggesting that the U.S. had warned Moscow about a potential terrorist attack on March 7, citing the confidentiality of such intelligence.

Calls for severe punishment of those involved in the attack have been mounting in Russia. Four men, identified as Tajik nationals, were charged with carrying out the terrorist act and appeared in court on Sunday night. However, they displayed signs of severe physical abuse, raising concerns about potential human rights violations under Putin’s leadership. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin assured that the perpetrators would be punished without mercy, while former President Dmitry Medvedev called for the elimination of all individuals associated with the attack.

The assault, which occurred at Crocus City Hall on the outskirts of Moscow, resulted in the deaths of 137 people and left over 180 injured, making it the deadliest attack in Russia in years. The concert hall was set ablaze by the attackers, causing the roof to collapse. The search operation is expected to continue until at least Tuesday afternoon. A Russian Orthodox priest conducted a service at the site, blessing a makeshift memorial.

The four suspects, Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni, and Mukhammadsobir Faizov, admitted their involvement in the attack, although concerns have been raised about the possibility of their statements being coerced due to their physical conditions. The charges against them carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Additionally, seven other suspects have been detained, with three of them appearing in court on Monday and being placed in pre-trial detention on terrorism charges. The fate of the remaining suspects remains unclear.

Reports of torture and mistreatment during the interrogation process have surfaced, with the suspects displaying visible signs of physical abuse. Russian human rights advocates have condemned the violence against the detainees, emphasizing that while stern punishment is necessary, savagery should not be the answer. The treatment of the suspects has raised concerns about the potential escalation of police brutality and violent crimes against migrants in Russia.

The attack has posed a significant challenge for Putin, particularly as it occurred shortly after his re-election and amidst a crackdown on dissent. Questions have been raised about how the extensive security apparatus in Russia failed to prevent the attack, especially in light of the prior U.S. warning. Observers suggest that the public display of the suspects’ injuries may be an attempt by authorities to demonstrate a strong response and deflect criticism.

IS has a history of targeting Russia, particularly due to its military intervention in the Syrian civil war. The group’s Afghanistan affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack in Krasnogorsk, the Moscow suburb where the concert hall is located. In the past, IS has recruited fighters from Russia and other former Soviet Union countries.

Author: CrimeDoor

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