Moscow Terrorism: Russia Misjudged Threat While Prioritizing Aggression against Ukraine

Terrorism that indiscriminately kills and injures innocent people is utterly unforgivable. It could be said that Russia, preoccupied with its aggression against Ukraine, misjudged the terrorist threat.

At a concert hall in a Moscow suburb, an armed group kept shooting at audience members. More than 130 people, including children, were killed and more than 150 were injured.

Investigative authorities have determined that the attack was a terrorist act and have detained 11 people, including alleged attackers. Strong anger is felt over these heinous acts, and deep sadness over the terrifying accounts of so many deaths.

In Russia, metal detectors are usually installed at the entrances to halls and airports where large numbers of people gather, to watch for dangerous items being brought in.

The fact that tight security measures were breached and a large-scale terrorist attack was allowed to happen is a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was just elected to office for the fifth time a week ago.

Although its authenticity has not been confirmed, a statement claiming responsibility for the attack has been issued by the Islamist extremist group Islamic State.

Islamic State declared the establishment of a “state” in 2014 in a region spanning northern Iraq and Syria. Inspired by its radical ideology, its fighters repeatedly carried out horrible terrorist attacks across Europe and the Middle East.

Russia, which supports the Syrian administration of President Bashar al-Assad, had carried out airstrikes against Islamic State, which is hostile to the Assad government. This has made Russia a target of Islamic State terrorist attacks in the past as well.

Although Islamic State lost the territory it controlled in U.S.-backed cleanup operations, remnants of the group are still active in the Middle East, Afghanistan and other regions.

If Islamic State is actually responsible for the latest attack, there are fears the group will resume its extremist activities in other countries. This must be taken as a threat not only to Russia but also to the international community.

What is regrettable for the victims and their families is that the Putin administration was provided with information about the attack in advance but failed to make use of it.

The United States had informed Russian authorities earlier this month that extremists were planning to attack large gatherings in Moscow. Putin had dismissed such information as outright threats by the West aimed at intimidating and destabilizing Russian society.

It is clear that Putin made light of the people’s safety.

In response to the attack, Putin made claims, without providing any evidence, that seemed to suggest Ukraine was involved in the incident. The truth of the matter is unclear, but this appears to be political propaganda to stir up hostility toward Ukraine among the Russian people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 25, 2024)