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‘Isis issues fresh threat to Putin, Russia’

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NEW DELHI: An Islamic State (IS) poster has recently emerged on social media, heralding a fresh threat against Russia. This development comes just days after the group acknowledged orchestrating an assault on Moscow’s concert center. The ominous poster, highlighted by Iranian media and linked to IS-Khorasan‘s propaganda network, Al Azaim, displays a masked individual wielding a knife with a menacing message directed at Russia and specifically Vladimir Putin, a Newsweek report said.
IS-Khorasan, established in Afghanistan back in late 2014, has openly claimed responsibility for the harrowing attack on Moscow’s Crocus Center, resulting in at least 137 fatalities. Following this incident, four Tajik nationals were charged with terrorism, with all admitting guilt as reported by TASS news agency.
The attack
Four individuals, equipped with Kalashnikov rifles, made their entrance into Crocus City Hall at approximately 6:54 p.m. local time. The onslaught commenced at 7:58pm, as documented by authorities.
Approaching the venue’s metal detectors with calm demeanor, the assailants unleashed a barrage of bullets from their firearms, targeting civilians at close range. This resulted in panic and chaos, with victims falling amid the relentless gunfire.
Footage that was later authenticated displayed a frenzied rush of attendees trying to escape as the sound of continuous gunfire and screams filled the air. The gunmen methodically moved across the hall, executing targeted shootings at the attendees.
The culprits utilized Kalashnikov “AK-74” rifles for their attack, with authorities recovering over 500 spent cartridges at the site. Following the shooting spree, the assailants proceeded to ignite parts of the premises using gasoline. Exiting the scene at 8:11 p.m., they collided with a vehicle carrying a family, including two children.
The venue, Crocus City Hall, known for hosting up to 6,200 guests, has seen performances by renowned artists such as the Scorpions, Elton John, and Vanessa Mae. Notably, Donald Trump attended the “Miss Universe” pageant there in 2013.
Claim of responsibility
The Islamic State, formerly influential in vast regions of Iraq and Syria, declared its involvement in the devastating event via its Amaq news outlet on Telegram, approximately four hours after the shooting commenced.
Subsequently, Islamic State broadcasted video evidence of the onslaught. Reuters verified the authenticity of the footage by matching the interior designs with existing records and imagery of the location.
The United States has acknowledged that its intelligence supports the claim made by Islamic State regarding the concert shooting near Moscow, as confirmed by two American officials.
Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, disclosed that the US had previously alerted Russian authorities about a potential impending attack in Moscow. This intelligence led to a cautionary notice from the US embassy in Moscow regarding potential extremist activities in the area.
Before this alert, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia announced thwarting a plot by Isis-Khorasan, an Islamic State division active in Afghanistan and neighboring regions, aimed at a Moscow synagogue.
Russian response
President Vladimir Putin, in a national address, disclosed that the apprehended assailants were en route to Ukraine. He expressed skepticism towards US claims attributing the assault to Islamic State.
During a subsequent meeting, Putin attributed the attack to “radical Islamists,” challenging the narrative that associates it solely with the Islamic State. He underscored the historical struggle of the Muslim world against radical ideologies and demanded clarity on the masterminds behind the atrocity.
Putin underscored the assault’s intent to instill fear and potentially divert attention as Russian forces make advancements in Ukraine, hinting at possible motives linked to the ongoing conflict with Kyiv.
(With inputs from agencies)

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