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Why ISIS Attacked Russia – and Why Russia Blames Ukraine

Vladimir Putin, an exemplary cynic, may well have allowed the attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue to take place so that he could use it to push mass mobilization, strengthen domestic support for the Ukraine war, and make opposition to his rule even more difficult. Like ISIS, Putin’s aggression seems to be enduring and expanding.

DOHA – The terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue in a Moscow suburb was no bolt from the blue. The Kremlin dismissed US intelligence warnings of an imminent attack by “extremists,” possibly to shift the blame to a convenient scapegoat when the attack came.

The murder of 137 concert-goers is but the latest atrocity in a decade-long struggle between the Islamic State (ISIS) and Russia. The die was cast on September 30, 2015, when Russia intervened in Syria to support the collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad. ISIS operatives responded a month later by infiltrating Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh airport and planting a bomb on a Russian Airbus, killing all 224 passengers and crew.

In retribution, in September 2017, Russia is alleged to have killed ISIS’s former “war minister,” Gulmurod Khalimov, who had once been the commander of the police special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan and who had fought beside the Russian forces during the Tajik Civil War. All of the alleged Crocus City Hall attackers are from Tajikistan.