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What Is ISIS-K And Why Has It Targeted Russia?

Four people have been charged following Russia’s deadliest terror attack in 20 years.

133 people were killed and 100 were injured when gunmen opened fire at a concert at Crocus City Hall in Moscow on Friday.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the attack despite a terrorist group called ISIS-K claiming responsibility.

In this episode of The Briefing Bension Siebert speaks to terrorism expert Greg Barton to learn what ISIS-K is:

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, initially through its Amaq media channel and then directly.

ISIS-K is an Afghanistan-based group, drawing on support in Pakistan and Central Asia.

Islamic minority populations in the North Caucasus, which is a Russian-governed territory in Central Asia, have faced historically poor treatment from the Russian government.

“Russia is seen as particularly cruel and brutal towards Muslim populations,” Barton says. “For groups like Islamic State, Russia is at the top of their enemy list.”

ISIS-K has planned some 21 attacks in nine countries in the past year, up from eight the previous year.

The US had shared intelligence they had of ISIS-K planning for attacks in Moscow.

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These warnings were rejected by President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin last week as being part of an attempt to discredit Russia.

Putin has blamed the attacks on Ukraine, but Barton says that this style of attack would not be in Ukrainian interests.

“If this was an attack on a Russian military base, you know, I think we would be wrestling with a balance of probabilities, but this sort of attack on a civilian venue, no reason whatsoever to believe any involvement with Ukraine,” Barton says.

Putin, who emerged from Russia’s election last week with a controversial 87% of the vote, is under pressure to maintain the support of the Russian public as the war in Ukraine takes more young soldiers lives.

“The only way he can square the circle is to double down on rhetoric against Ukraine and perhaps use this as a way of justifying greater call up of civilian conscription,” Barton says.

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