ISIS Publishes Photos of Moscow Attackers, Releases Statement

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What to Know:

After claiming responsibility for the Crocus City Hall attack in Moscow, the Islamic State has released a statement through its Amaq news agency detailing some of the events and releasing blurred photos of the attackers. At least 115 people were killed and over 100 others were left wounded by the gunmen, who opened fire on crowds of venue goers while also setting the entertainment complex on fire before fleeing the scene. Russian media have reported that all four attackers were eventually captured.

The Statement:

“The Islamic State dealt a strong blow to Russia with a bloody attack, the most violent targeting it in years. Security sources told Amaq Agency that a coordinated attack was launched by Islamic State fighters, on Friday, on a large crowd of Christians in the city of Krasnogorsk on the outskirts of the capital, Moscow.

The sources added that the attack targeted a mass concert attended by thousands of Christians, inside a music hall located within a large commercial complex in the city. The sources revealed to Amaq that the attack was carried out by four Islamic State fighters who were armed with machine guns, a pistol, knives and incendiary bombs, and was preceded by an intensive monitoring operation of the place.

The sources explained that the fighters stormed the hall and three of them began shooting at the crowd, while the fourth fighter was busy setting fire to the hall using incendiary bombs that had been prepared in advance for this purpose. The sources indicated that the fighters confirmed that they shot dozens of Christians in the heads, and slaughtered a number of them inside the hall and its corridors.

The bloody attack resulted in at least 300 Christians being killed or wounded, and a major fire broke out that destroyed two-thirds of the hall and caused the collapse of large parts. The sources confirmed to Amaq that the attack comes within the normal context of the raging war between the Islamic State and countries fighting Islam.”

Statement Analysis:

The statement itself does not glean any new or unique information about the events that happened, except clarifying that there were four suspects directly involved in the attacks. ISIS has the tendency to claim isolated attacks as their own, however, the presence of a photo of attackers lends itself credibility that there was some form of coordination.

Through footage taken during the attack and statements by Russian media, it was already known that the attack primarily targeted the Crocus City Hall’s concert venue and that the assailants were armed with automatic rifles and incendiary devices, which were used to light the complex on fire. Footage released online also showed the brutality of the attack, where the gunmen fired on crowds of venue goers at close range as they made their ay through the complex.

Casualty counts released by ISIS through Amaq are typically inflated significantly, however, this number released in the statement appears to be fairly realistic and is close to what authorities are stating.

The statement also went on to say that “the attack comes within the normal context of the raging war between the Islamic State and countries fighting Islam.” This is fairly vague, but it does fall in line with previous ISIS statements regarding attacks against the West.