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FSB reveals Crocus City attackers’ plan to escape to Ukraine

The suspects behind the Moscow concert hall massacre said they were promised money in Kiev

Two escape routes were prepared in Ukraine for the terrorists who attacked a packed concert hall outside Moscow last month, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Sunday. The FSB showed snippets from interrogation videos, in which the suspects confessed that they were promised money in Kiev.

On March 22, four Tajik nationals opened fire inside the Crocus City Hall music venue and then set the building on fire.

A total of 145 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the attack.

The suspected assailants were detained the next day while trying to flee to Ukraine by car, the authorities said. More suspects were arrested in the following days, most of them of Tajik origin. 

The jihadist group Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the attack. FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov, however, suggested that the US, UK, and Ukraine may also be linked to the attack, possibly using Islamists as proxies. Ukraine and its Western backers have denied any involvement.

In the interrogation videos aired on Russian TV, the suspects said that they were following instructions from the handler they knew as Sayfullo. The authorities are currently working to determine his identity. 

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Muhammad Zoir Sharipzoda, a suspect in a case related to the Crocus City Hall attack, at Basmanny district court, Moscow, Russia, April 5, 2024.
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The handler told the suspects to escape to Ukraine where they expected to receive 1 million rubles each ($11,000), they said.

“Sayfullo told us that guys would wait for us at the Ukrainian border and that they would help us to cross the border and arrive in Kiev,” suspect Muhammadsobir Fayzov told his interrogator.

According to investigators, the suspects took the M3 highway that leads to the border with Ukraine, but were eventually intercepted about 140 kilometers (87 miles) from Ukraine’s Sumy region.

Suspect Shamsidin Fariduni said that they were told to “abandon the car near the border” and then call their handler for further instructions on how to cross into Ukraine.

Russian officials said previously that a “window” for crossing the border had been arranged on the Ukrainian side. The FSB said on Sunday that the Ukrainians were conducting “demining activities” near the villages of Chuykovka and Sopych, which points to two possible escape routes. According to investigators, the suspects were expected to destroy their vehicle and cross the border on foot, using woodlands as cover. 

Russia’s Investigative Committee said earlier this week that pro-Ukrainian images were discovered on the phone of one of the suspects.

April 08, 2024 at 06:16AM
RT

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