Where Putin wants and can go with his lies about the Moscow attack

After the ISIS attack in Moscow, Vladimir Putin cannot rest. But, instead of working on the flaws in his own intelligence (warned almost a month before the imminence of a jihadist attack in the capital by the USA), for the moment he is only looking for scapegoats. Where? In Ukraine, of course. The Russian president had commented on the bloody incident, indicating that the target of the retaliation would still have been Kiev, which according to him was the hidden instigator of the jihadist attack on the Crocus City Hall, where the death toll in the meantime has risen to 139 dead, while around a hundred injured remain hospitalized.

Putin, to justify in the eyes of the population the security disaster that occurred on March 22nd and that he ignored the alarms, is now forced to bother the director of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, so that he can find a direct connection (as things stand, non-existent) between the Ukrainian secret services and the ISIS-K militiamen. Thus, with the tightrope walking of a trapeze artist, Bortnikov tried to connect some dots: “Ukraine's secret services contributed to the terrorist attack in Moscow, which was perpetrated by radical Islamists.” And again: «The terrorists were trained by Kiev», adding that «the USA and the United Kingdom are involved».

So, while Putin and Russian intelligence are busy with a clumsy attempt to pin the blame on the enemy – “We must answer the question why terrorists were trying to go to Ukraine and who was waiting for them there, to welcome them as heroes” said the president himself – here that an unsuspected voice rises out of the chorus. And none other than Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko arrives. Who, despite being a great ally of Moscow, states: «The terrorists attempted to escape towards Minsk» and not towards Kiev. His secret services received information that the terrorists were moving in the direction of Bryansk, a Russian region located on the border with Belarus and Ukraine, intercepted in the direction of the Belarusian capital.

So, if it is clear why Putin accuses Kiev and the West, how does he justify his own statements that that crime “we know was committed at the hands of radical Islamists, whose ideology the Islamic world itself has been fighting for centuries”? He simply doesn't need it. It is enough to launch an accusation – “We are interested in knowing who benefits from it” said Putin, adding that the attack was “an act of intimidation” – to shift attention from one's own shortcomings to the opposing camp.

Russia's real enemy is jihadism

Yet everyone, Russians no less than Westerners, knows all too well that radical Islam has always been Moscow's great enemy, and the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is the most evident demonstration of this. Coincidentally, Isis Khorasan (or more simply Isis-K) comes from here, a branch of the Islamic State terrorist group operating since 2014 in Central Asia, in rural Afghan areas, responsible for the massacre in Moscow.

Isis-K's declared objective is to create a Caliphate in southern and central Asia governed by Sharia laws, along a territory that unites Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and also some former Soviet republics, such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Which, coincidentally here too, is precisely the country from which the four captured terrorists come.

Greater Khorasan, from which the terrorist group takes its name, is in fact the historical region of the Iranian Plateau located between Western and Central Asia, which radical Islamist forces would like to restore no more and no less than their “colleagues” of Caucasus, where the majority of the inhabitants are Sunni Muslim and do not recognize the Russian state as their dominus.

The radicalization of the Caucasus with an anti-Russian function, however, is itself a major thorn in Moscow's side. This rebellious mutation occurred right under the eyes of Vladimir Putin, who observed it grow in intensity in the second half of the 1990s, instigated by preachers coming mainly from Saudi Arabia. Here Moscow's repression was very strong, precisely to prevent Chechen secessionism, which was born secular, from progressively Islamising. Which instead duly happened, and became worse after Putin made Chechnya a war zone, and its capital Grozny a modern Carthage. To the point that in 2003 the United Nations proclaimed it the most devastated city in the world.

Vladimir Putin's bluff

To understand Putin's bluff on accusations against Ukraine – and indirectly against the West – you don't need secret information. The statements of former KGB officials such as Oleg Kalugin are enough, who in 2001, a few days after the September 11 attacks, confessed: «Putin is interested in demonstrating to the Americans and the world that the war in Chechnya was not a crime against humanity, but a battle against terrorism. And therefore the Kremlin will be generous with useful information to trace the hand of Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network until they lead to Chechnya. (…) Nonsense.” As if to say that, if they are useful, lies are fine.

At the time of the events – we are in the post-Cold War phase – US-Russia relations had taken on a completely new connotation. We had thus moved on to a phase, if not of friendship, at least of agreement against a real and common enemy: two years before the Twin Towers, the Russian Federation was already at war against Islam, and the Chechen conflict was experiencing its its peak. Thus, even when American President George W. Bush began an international crusade against Islamist terrorism, his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, willingly offered Washington support for military operations in Afghanistan, granting him (albeit partially ) Russian airspace, intelligence cooperation and even the possibility of using Soviet-legacy Russian bases in Central Asia.

But that time has passed and, while the US got tired of fighting jihadist terrorism once Bin Laden was eliminated, Moscow could not afford this luxury. On the contrary, it has expanded its scope by fighting Sunni jihadism, as well as in the Caucasus, in all the former Soviet republics, as well as in Syria, Libya, Sudan and the Sahel, while supporting Shiite Iran, bitter enemy of ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood (from which the entire ideological apparatus of Islamic terrorists derives). All this has made the Russian Federation the number one public enemy of ISIS, Al Qaeda and Sunni jihadist groups. Other than Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom…

All ISIS attacks on Russia

The most eloquent demonstration of the fact that Isis and other acronyms of the jihadist galaxy have Moscow and the Russian Federation as their sensitive objective lies in the very long list of jihadist attacks that have hit the Russian capital and other Russian locations. Here are the main ones:

September 8, 1999 – a bomb explodes at night and destroys a nine-story building in the Piciatniki district, on the outskirts of Moscow. 92 people died in the attack and 200 were injured.

September 13, 1999 – a bomb explodes and destroys a seven-story building in Moscow, along Kashirskoye Avenue. 118 people died in the attack, including 13 children. This is not claimed either, but it will be one of the causes of the Russian intervention in Chechnya on October 1 of the same year.

8 August 2000 – 13 dead and 92 injured in the attack carried out with an explosive device in the underpasses of Pushhin Square, not far from the Kremlin.

23-26 October 2002 – The bloodiest episode recorded so far, with the kidnapping of the spectators present in the Dubrovka theatre. All 41 guerrillas of the Chechen commando are killed, but 129 hostages also die, almost all of them because they were poisoned by the gas used by the Russian special forces.

July 5, 2003 – At the Tushino airfield (Moscow), two girls, one of whom is of Chechen origin, detonate their plastic belts in the midst of a crowd of young people waiting to enter a rock music gathering. 15 people were killed in the attack, including the two terrorists, and 59 were injured.

December 9, 2003 – A female suicide bomber blows herself up in front of the National hotel, in the central Tverskaia street of Moscow, a few dozen meters from the Duma. 6 dead, including the attacker, and 13 injured.

February 6, 2004 – A suicide bomber detonates a bomb on a subway train between the Paveletskaia and Avtozavodskaia stations, close to the center of Moscow. The explosion leaves 41 dead and 134 injured.

19 December 2015 – In the first attack claimed by ISIS on Russian soil, a man shoots 11 tourists visiting the Naryn-Kala citadel in Derbent, in the Republic of Dagestan, killing one of them.

August 17, 2016 – Two men attack a police officer with guns and axes at a checkpoint in the Moscow suburb of Balashikha. They are killed by the officers, while a policeman is seriously injured.

October 23, 2016 – Two men shoot at a police officer who was inspecting their car in Nizhny Novgorod. The policeman returns fire, killing the two attackers. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack, saying that the victims were two “Islamic State soldiers”.

December 17, 2016 – Two ISIS militants stab a police officer in Grozny, Chechnya, and use the gun and a stolen car to kill three other police officers. ISIS does not claim responsibility, but the US State Department releases videos in which jihadists swore allegiance to the group while in Syria.

March 24, 2017 – A group affiliated with ISIS attacks a Russian National Guard post in Grozny, resulting in the death of 6 soldiers.

April 4, 2017 – Two Russian police officers die in a shootout in the southern city of Astrakhan, an action claimed by ISIS

August 19, 2017 – A 19-year-old from the Siberian city of Surgut stabs seven people before being killed by police. The attack was claimed by ISIS, along with other twin attacks that occurred simultaneously in Finland and Germany.

December 27, 2017 – A bomb explodes in a chain supermarket Perekriostok of St. Petersburg, injures around twenty people. ISIS claims.

February 8, 2018 – A gunman shoots indiscriminately outside a church in the town of Kizliar at a crowd of people celebrating the Masletnisa festival (similar to our Carnival). Five people die and as many are injured. Claimed a few hours later by ISIS.

May 2018 – ISIS claims three attacks: Neftekamsk, Nizhny Novgorod and a third in Dagestan. They claim to have carried out attacks against police officers and a Sufi shrine, fortunately without causing any casualties.

December 31, 2018 – An explosion in a residential building in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk, in the Urals, causes 39 deaths. Moscow talks about a gas cylinder explosion, but ISIS claims responsibility, claiming to have killed 39 “Russian crusaders”.

8 April 2019 – Explosion in Kolomna, near Moscow, claimed by ISIS. There are no victims.

July 1, 2019 – A man kills a police officer with a knife at a checkpoint in Chechnya's Achkhoy-Martonovsky district and is fatally shot by another policeman. Also in this case, ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.

March 22, 2024 – Four ISIS-K terrorists simultaneously attack the Crocus City Hall in Moscow and then set it on fire: the toll is 139 dead and 180 injured.