Moscow Attack Eyed by ISIS, or Putin Scapegoat?

On March 23, 2024, a terrorist attack occurred at a Moscow, Russia, concert hall, leaving the death toll at over 130 and more than 100 wounded. Four suspects were arrested. Immediately after the event, Ukrainian officials were blamed by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attack. Meanwhile, the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate claimed responsibility. U.S. intelligence officials shared information with Russia in early March about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow and issued a public warning to Americans in Russia. This information was not released to the public until after the attack. Following the attack, the U.S. once again warned Americans in Russia about the dangers of terrorist activity. An official statement from the National Security Council spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson, declared "ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever." Some officials, including Putin, claim that the shooters were attempting to escape to Ukraine through a border window created for them. This attack has stirred controversy and speculation among Western officials and some media outlets. Officials in the U.K. and the U.S. have speculated that the attack was committed by Russians attempting to frame the Ukrainian government. Officials in Russia have claimed that the terrorists fought back against Russian security forces for over five hours. Some witnesses claim that Russian security forces fired on civilians trying to escape the incident, with some retorting that the incident was a false flag operation staged by the Kremlin to make Russia look bad and promote more support for the war in Ukraine.

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