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What is ISIS-K and why has it attacked Russia?

Simon Calder’s Travel

In the weeks leading up to the tragedy at a Moscow music venue on Friday night, warnings had been relayed to Russia that a terror attack perpetrated by extremists was imminent.

Despite this, it appears their intelligence services were caught unaware when a group of four gunmen opened fire at Crocus City Hall, where 7,000 concertgoers had gathered to watch the progressive rock band Picnic.

At least 137 people have been killed, while over a hundred more have been wounded with the jihadist group ISIS-K claiming responsibility in a series of videos and messages.

The four suspects have since been arrested and hauled before a court, just hours after footage emerged of them being dragged into an intelligence headquarters whilst blindfolded.

The car which, according to Russian authorities, the suspects in the shooting at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall used to escape

(Ostorozhno Novosti via REUTERS)

Who are ISIS-K?

Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), named after an old term for the region that included parts of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, emerged in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014 and quickly established a reputation for extreme brutality.

While the group has seen a decline in membership since 2018, it remains one of the most active regional affiliates of Islamic State. Over the years, it has been increasingly targeted by US forces and the Taliban, both of whom have inflicted heavy losses upon the group.

Despite this, the US continues to view the group as a threat, with Congress told last March that ISIS-K was developing the ability to carry out “external operations” in Europe and Asia.

General Michael Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command predicted it would be able to attack U.S. and Western interests outside Afghanistan “in as little as six months and with little to no warning.”

Why attack Russia?

Jihadist terror groups have often posed a challenge to Russia’s security, with ISIS-K previously carrying out the 2017 St Petersburg metro bombing in 2017, which left 15 dead.

The gunment opening fire in the concert hall foyer

(UGC/AFP via Getty Images)

Largely based in central Asia, ISIS-K has come to view Russia on a similar level to the US, which they believe espouses “hatred” towards the Muslim faith.

They have also cited Russia’s support of the Assad regime which saw them intervene in Syria in 2015, with airstrikes occurring as…

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