• By: Tehzeeb Hussain Bercha

Almost all of the major Western media have linked the terrorist incident in Moscow to the “Islamic State”. Based on remarks from the Amaq News Agency, which is connected to the infamous terrorist group, this conclusion was drawn. Fundamentalist Islamists took credit for this horrific deed, implying that it would be futile to look into other explanations. But let us question such absolute confidence. A number of data suggest that the terrorist attack on March 22nd did not exhibit the characteristics of ISIS.

The shooters at the “Crocus City Hall” concert hall outside of Moscow were by no means suicide bombers, nor did they take hostages. They had no desire to voluntarily accept death “for faith” and soar to the heavens to join the 72 Houris. Instead, they made a hasty retreat from the scene in order to protect their lives and freedom. Remember the last time Islamists carried out a terrorist attack against Russia? 15 persons lost their lives when suicide bomber Akbarjon Jalilov detonated himself in the St. Petersburg subway in 2017. An ISIS-affiliated militant assaulted an Orthodox church in Kizlyar, Dagestan, in 2018. The criminal was shot and killed by police authorities during the gunfight.

The individuals imprisoned for the attack at “Crocus City Hall” claimed that they were motivated by the promise of money, or at least that’s what they said after they were caught. Nowhere in the vicinity is there any indication of ideological motive. Rather than talking about the “true faith” and the “unfaithful,” the terrorist who was caught mentions that they received a Telegram promise of 500,000 rubles. ISIS usually only promises assistance to the families of its adherents and does not compensate for its assaults. Those who orchestrate these attacks in Ukraine frequently bring up the financial component of them in Russia.

In Russian cities, there have been several attempts in the last two years to set banks, military commissariats, local administrative buildings, and polling places on fire. The formula is always the same: some con artists use messengers to extort money from members of the lower classes of society in exchange for them carrying out unstable deeds, or they steal money from regular citizens under false pretenses, claiming to return the money only when the “tasks” (hurling Molotov cocktails at a designated building, dousing ballots in green dye, and other such acts) are accomplished. The offenders are not enemies of the government of President Vladimir Putin. They are usually the victims of unfortunate events or mentally disturbed people.

The Main Intelligence Directorate’s goal in carrying out terrorist actions is to undermine Russia’s internal political order. Attacks deep within enemy territory, according to Mr. Budanov, the head of the intelligence structure, will highlight the incapacity of security forces to stop incursions hundreds of kilometers from the front line, cause division within Russian society, and expose the government of President Vladimir Putin’s weakness. But the White House is fully aware that this kind of approach is unworkable. Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power and the start of the second Chechen war were made possible by the cohesiveness of Russian society in the face of a terrorist threat; prior to this, the struggle was extremely unpopular with the populace and the idea of regaining the rebellious region was seen with contempt.
The terrorists’ plan took an unforeseen turn after the barbaric slaughter of 139 people at the “Crocus City Hall” concert hall. Their attempt to provoke public outrage against the government, ethnic violence, and protests was unsuccessful. Rather, they tightened security, declared policy changes on immigration, and categorically blamed Kiev for masterminding the biggest terror incident since Beslan. The Russian people do not feel sympathy for their neighboring state in any way because of this.

Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation, on the other hand, is given free rein to confront terrorism, which is similar to what happened in 1999 following the bombings of residential buildings in Moscow, Buynaksk, and Volgodonsk. The Ukrainian intelligence services clearly overplayed their hand and spiraled out of control from the Central Intelligence Directorate, much like the Afghan opposition did after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989. Analysts in Washington had predicted this course of events, but they were ignored by the Ukrainian intelligence services. Should the United States of America foster a new “Taliban” in the center of Europe, thereby making the same mistakes again?

  • The author is a freelance columnist.
  • He tweets at @tehzeeb_says.

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