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ISIS-K Involvement in Terrorist Attack in Moscow

2024.04.09 17:24:37 Jaehoon Song

[A nighttime image of the Kremlin, the official working residence of the president of Russia, Source: Pixabay]

The organisation known as the Islamic State of ISIS has reentered the global sphere of interest following an attack on a Moscow Opera house last week.


The incident occurred following the recent reelection of President Vladimir Putin, who secured another term in the office with an overwhelming majority victory in a stage-managed election.


Prior to the election, Putin had underscored the importance of national security amidst Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict.


The attack involved four assailants armed with automatic weapons and incendiary devices, storming Dubrovka theatre, a renowned performance venue.


The assailants opened gunfire and lit the building on fire, injuring 145 and killing at least 60.


The alleged involvement of Tajik nationals in the incident implies ISIS-K was responsible for the attack.


ISIS-K stands for Islamic State - Khorasan Province and is a provincial branch of the Islamic State.


ISIS-K operates in South-Central Asia, primarily in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Some experts suggest that the attacks were in opposition to Putin, who the group has been against in recent years.


Michael Kugelman, the Asia Program deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center claims that ISIS-K "sees Russia as being complicit in activities that regularly oppress Muslims.”


Experts from the UN and other organisations estimate that the group has a fighting force of approximately 4,000 and 6,000 fighters.


ISIS-K has carried out various terrorist attacks in the past, the most notable being the 2021 suicide bombing at Kabul airport which killed nearly 200 people.


The organisation was also responsible for a bombing against an election rally in Baujur, Pakistan, last year.


It is also believed ISIS-K has also played a role in the twin suicide bombings in the Iranian city of Kerman earlier this year.


ISIS’ opposition to Putin's regime is rooted in the Russian government’s support of the Assad regime and the Chechen wars.


As a result, ISIS-K has targeted Russia, bombing and consequently taking down a Russian charter jet flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg as well as carrying out an attack on the Russian embassy in Kabul, which led to the death of two employees.


The group has recently been furthering their attempt to establish a presence within Russia.


The FSB, the Russian security service, announced that it had killed two ISIS-K members that were planning an attack on a Russian synagogue earlier this month.


It is reported that the US had warned the Kremlin of possible terrorist attacks at “large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts” in early March.


Putin was quick to dismiss these warnings, however, claiming that they were “provocative statements by a number of official Western structures…All this resembles blatant blackmail and an intention to sow fear and destabilise our society.”


As a result, there was no security measures enforcement at concerts despite the FSB having been warned about the possibility of such attacks.


Following the attack, Putin commented that they were conducted “by the hands of radical Islamists,” however also implied involvement from Ukraine, the US, and the UK.


Kyiv has since rejected the possibility of Ukrainian involvement.

Jaehoon Song / Grade 10
North London Collegiate School Jeju