ISIS Attack in Moscow Raises Terror Concerns Internationally

Russia sustained the deadliest terror attack on their country in the past twenty years on March 22, 2024. The attack took place inside the Crocus City Hall, a concert venue where 144 concertgoers were brutally killed. Multiple gunmen were spotted in eye-witness video footage entering the concert hall dressed in camouflage clothing (Reuters). The gunmen who opened fire have been identified as members of the Afghan-based ISIS-K (Islamic State – Khorasan Province) terrorist group.

It has been revealed that both the U.S. and Iran warned Russia before the attack took place that there was a terroristic threat. Earlier this year, Iran arrested 35 people who were linked to a bombing that took place in the city of Kerman on January 3. One of the arrested people was identified as a commander of ISIS-K (Reuters). During interrogations of those arrested, it was revealed that there was a possible terrorist attack planned to take place in Russia.

Although ISIS has confirmed and claimed responsibility for the attack that took place, Vladimir Putin has stated he believes there to be some Ukranian connection. One of the detained gunmen mentioned that following the attack on the concert hall, the plan was to “head towards Kyiv,” (BBC). Putin acknowledged that the act of terror was carried out by ISIS, but he went on to accuse a link between the attack and those of the “neo-Nazi Kyiv regime,” (The Washington Post). Ukrainian officials responded angrily to Putin; President Volodymyr Zelensky pointedly stated that the “hundreds of thousands of Russians who are now killing on Ukrainian land would surely be enough to stop any terrorists,” (The Washington Post).

In the U.S., concern from law officials has risen. U.S. intelligence has warned of terroristic threats at large gatherings that might take place in response to the Moscow attack (ABC). On April 6, federal officials arrested an 18-year-old Idaho teen who was allegedly planning attacks against multiple local churches. Alexander Scott Mercutio detailed his plans to an undercover FBI agent before being arrested and charged with providing support to a terroristic organization (The Washington Post). Mercutio began studying ISIS ideology during the COVID-19 lockdown; the teen also admitted to committing to white supremacist ideology before getting involved with ISIS, which he felt had more of a purpose for him (The Washington Post). Agents have had Mercutio on their radar since 2022, when they created an account that had the same username of an ISIS fundraising profile that had been previously deleted. The FBI had been monitoring his activity until it quickly escalated earlier this year, which led to Mercutio’s arrest (The Washington Post).

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