Russia refuses to blame ISIS for concert hall attack despite growing evidence

Russia refuses to blame ISIS for concert hall attack despite growing evidence

The Guardian reports:

The Kremlin has declined to comment on growing evidence that the Afghan branch of Islamic State (IS), known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), masterminded the terrorist attack on the Crocus City concert hall in Moscow that left 137 people dead.

Asked by reporters whether the Kremlin recognised IS was behind the attack, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said: “You ask a question related to the progress of the investigation. We do not comment on that in any way. We have no right to do so. But we urge you to rely on the information provided by our law enforcement agencies.”

Reporters also asked why Vladimir Putin and Russian authorities did not mention IS as a possible organiser of the attack.

“The investigation continues. No solid theory has been announced just yet. This is only a matter of preliminary information,” Peskov said.

Putin claimed without evidence that Ukraine had aided the attackers and had planned to “open a window” for the gunmen to escape.

Although US intelligence services had previously warned that IS cells in Russia were plotting to target concert venues, Peskov said Russia’s security services had not accepted any help from the west.

“No, our security services are working on their own, no assistance is currently on the table,” he said during a telephone call with journalists.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, called into question assertions by the US that IS was behind the attack.

“Attention – a question to the White House: Are you sure it’s Isis? Might you think again about that?” Zakharova said in an article for the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

Zakharova added that the US, which has said it received intelligence that the terror group acted alone, was spreading a version of the “bogeyman” of Islamic State to cover its “wards” in Kyiv.

On Sunday, four suspects appeared in court in Moscow charged over the terrorist attack on the concert hall. The men were officially identified as citizens of Tajikistan, the Tass state news agency said, and were remanded in custody for two months. [Continue reading…]

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