IS-K: Unveiling the Identity of the Islamic State Jihadists Linked to the Moscow Attack

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Unveiling IS-K: Insights into the Islamic State Jihadists Linked to Moscow Attack

Despite attempts by President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s state-controlled media to attribute Friday’s deadly Moscow theatre attack to Ukraine, more details are emerging about the jihadist group IS-K, believed to be responsible for the incident.

S-K, short for Islamic State-Khorasan, is a regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, recognized as a terrorist organization by governments worldwide. Primarily focused on Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Central Asia, the group derives its name from the historical Islamic caliphate spanning the Khorasan region. With a reputation for extreme brutality, IS-K aspires to establish an Islamic caliphate governed by a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

IS-K has gained notoriety for its lethal attacks, including suicide bombings during the chaotic Kabul airport evacuation in 2021, targeting the Russian embassy in Kabul, and perpetrating indiscriminate violence against civilians and security personnel. The group’s brutality was further evident in a double bombing at a shrine in Kerman, Iran, claiming numerous lives. In Russia, IS-K has conducted various small-scale attacks, with the recent incident in Moscow marking its latest assault.

Reports suggest that at least three attackers in the Moscow theatre incident were Tajiks from Tajikistan, subjected to harsh interrogation and possible torture. However, their confessions may be deemed unreliable under international norms due to coercion. Notably, surveillance footage implicates one attacker in pre-planning activities around the venue, coinciding with prior US warnings of an imminent terrorist threat.

IS-K views Russia as a significant adversary, stemming from historical conflicts like the Chechen wars and Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. Additionally, Russia’s alliance with the Taliban and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan have fueled IS-K’s animosity. Moreover, the group perceives Russia as a predominantly Christian nation, making it a target for their extremist ideology.

Despite the swift capture of the attackers, several questions remain unanswered, including the ease of access to automatic weapons and the absence of a timely police response. Some speculate about potential involvement or negligence by Russian authorities, although there is no concrete evidence to support such claims. US intelligence has affirmed IS-K’s responsibility for the attack, dispelling conspiracy theories surrounding the incident.

In conclusion, the emergence of IS-K as a significant threat underscores the ongoing challenges posed by extremist groups globally, necessitating vigilant counter-terrorism efforts and international cooperation to combat terrorism effectively.

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