Putin admits Islamic terrorists carried out the Crocus City attack, but maintains accusation of a Ukrainian link

Putin admits Islamic terrorists carried out the Crocus City attack, but maintains accusation of a Ukrainian link
Putin has admitted that Islamic extremists were behind the Crocus City attack, but still maintains the "Ukraine direction" line. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews March 26, 2024

In the wake of the devastating terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall, Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that Islamic extremists carried out the attack on concert-goers at the Crocus City Hall mall, but maintains the link to Ukraine.

In  a meeting with security chiefs on March 25, Putin said: “We know the crime was committed by Islamist terrorists. But the question arises: who benefits?”

In a second public address on the terror act on March 25, Putin also hinted at the involvement of the West and Ukraine, stopping short of direct accusations. The attack, which claimed 139 lives and injured 182, has reignited calls among officials about potentially lifting the moratorium on the death penalty, although the Kremlin has yet to make a comment on that idea.

Putin suggested that Islamist terrorists were behind the incident but questioned their motives, given Russia's stance on resolving Middle East conflicts and the timing of the attack during Ramadan. He implied a connection to the "neo-Nazi Kyiv regime," which he accused of employing heinous tactics since 2014.

The terrorist attack was carried out by Islamists, Putin said, “but we are interested in who the customer is.”

“This atrocity can only be a link in a whole series of attempts by those who have been fighting our country since 2014 at the hands of the neo-Nazi Kyiv regime. And the Nazis, as is well known, never disdained to use the most dirty and inhumane means to achieve their goals,” Putin said.

The investigative response has been swift, with authorities piecing together the events leading to the tragedy. The terrorists' brief 13-minute presence in Crocus City Hall resulted in significant loss of life and overwhelmed the venue's fire safety systems. The scale of the attack has raised concerns about the adequacy of security measures at the facility.

The fire safety system of the concert hall worked as normal, but was unable to cope with the fire “due to the large area,” said the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Alexander Kurenkov. Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov said that the scale of the terrorist attack was “incomparable with the capabilities of ensuring the security of the facility.”

Simultaneously, the Russian Investigative Committee is pursuing leads on the culprits, including the arrest of three family members suspected of involvement. The discovery that one of the suspects had recently sold a vehicle used by the terrorists and arrested three men, all members of the same family, brothers Dilovar and Aminchon Islomov, as well as their father Isroil Islomov.

Dilovar Islomov previously owned a white Renault, which the terrorists used to escape. He told reporters that “about a week ago” he sold the car to his wife’s brother, and when he saw it on the news, he “was shocked” and claimed to have approached Russia’s Investigative Committee himself. Investigators believe that one of the participants in the terrorist attack involved the brothers Dilovar and Aminchon Islomov “into an organised group.” The Investigative Committee does not specify what the father is suspected of. All three face life imprisonment.

The day before, the Basmanny Court arrested four suspects in the terrorist attack, detained in the Bryansk region, two of them admitted guilt in full. Before going to trial, all four were tortured, photos and videos of which were distributed through Z-channels. During the arrest, one of the defendants had his ear cut off, the second was tortured with electric shock, the third appeared in court with the remains of a bag around his neck, and the fourth was brought to the hearing on a gurney straight from the intensive care unit – his eye was knocked out during the arrest.

Amidst the fallout, the Human Rights Council under the President, Valery Fadeev, has floated the idea of reinstating the death penalty for terrorism “for the duration of the war with the West”, a suggestion that has sparked debate within Russia. High-profile figures, including Deputy Secretary of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, have voiced support for harsh retaliation against those associated with the attack, saying, “kill them all.”

Reports of torture against detained suspects have drawn sharp criticism from lawyers and human rights organisations, emphasising the need for justice rather than revenge.

While the state apparatus hypes talks of a Ukrainian connection, without providing evidence, many critics of the Putin regime have recalled some of the theories that surrounded terror attacks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, it was suggested that Russian intelligence services were behind some in order to boost Putin’s reputation and justify unpopular decisions from the Kremlin. 

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