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ISIS using deadly Moscow attack to recruit new terrorists as US monitoring ‘very closely’

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The recent deadly terrorist attack in Moscow has brought renewed attention to the ISIS-K terrorist organization in not only the U.S. and other European nations, but to extremists watching. 

“It’s really good for recruiting for the Islamic State to conduct a show that it can launch attacks, to show that it has reach,” Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and founding editor of “The Long War Journal,” told Fox News Digital. “Any want-to-be Jihadist may be motivated by attacks such as these.”

“This is the type of attack that is effective. We’re talking about it,” he added.

Four men from Tajikistan were charged in a Russian court Sunday after a concert hall was attacked by gunmen who killed more than 130 people and injured 180 others. 

A Russian Rosguardia (National Guard) servicemen secures an area as a massive blaze seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 22, 2024.  (AP Photo)

WHAT IS ISIS-K, THE TERRORIST GROUP TIED TO MOSCOW CONCERT HALL ATTACK AND 2021 ABBEY GATE BOMBING?

Reports have indicated that the Russian authorities are sending a message to other extremists after the men appeared in court showing signs of extreme physical abuse, and videos surfaced on Telegram of at least two of the men being tortured.

But Roggio argued the move is unlikely to be successful in actually deterring terrorist attacks. 

“The videos will be used by ISIS for future recruiting as well as to harden current members against Russia,” the security expert said. “The Islamic State (IS) will use these videos as proof of the brutality of states like Russia against Muslims.”

Moscow concern attacker blind folded

In this photo taken from video released by Investigative Committee of Russia on Sunday, March 24, 2024, a suspect in the Crocus City Hall shooting on Friday is escorted to the Russian Investigative Committee headquarters in Moscow, Russia.  (Investigative Committee of Russia via AP)

ISIS-K first caught international attention in the U.S. following the 2021 bombing at Abbey Gate during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. 

But the group largely stayed out of major headlines until earlier this year after it took credit for twin bombings that were carried out during a January memorial ceremony for Iranian General Qasem Soleimani that killed 95 people and injured more than 280 others.

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“Sometimes these groups operate in the shadows just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they left,” Roggio said. “It just means that they become more visible.

“It indicates that the Islamic State has a reach far greater than some people originally thought,” he added. “They’re not just confined to Afghanistan.”

Islamic State militant holds ISIS flag in a desert setting

A masked Islamic State soldier poses holding the ISIS flag in 2015.  (History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Roggio pointed out that Islamic extremists have launched numerous attacks in Russia over the last thirty years following Moscow’s military operations in the Middle East, South Asia as well as other areas like the Caucuses, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan where there are large Muslim populations.

“They’re trying to punish Russia for its presence in countries that the Islamic State considers to be Muslim countries — considers to be countries that should be under their purview,” he said, emphasizing that to the Islamic State “we’re all enemies.”

“The United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China — to them we’re occupiers. We’re all in one way or another a great Satin to them,” he said. “But I would just say that, but more importantly, the Russians are always a target, and Jihadists will take the opportunity to attack whenever they feel they can get one off.”

Firefighters in the aftermath of Moscow attack

Russian firefighters search through rubble after the Moscow terror attack (Russian Ministry of Emergencies/Handout /Anadolu via Getty Images)

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White House national security adviser John Kirby said the U.S. is remaining “vigilant” when it comes to the threat ISIS poses to the U.S., and pointed out that Washington alerted Moscow to the possibility of such an attack weeks ago.

“It was because of the aggressive way in which we have been monitoring [ISIS-K] that we were able to give the Russians a warning,” he told reporters Monday. “Because we’re watching it very, very closely, we don’t see any sort of credible threat by ISIS to the American homeland. 

“But again, not something we’re taking for granted,” he added. 

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