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Suspects behind Moscow terrorist attack: What we know so far

A total of 11 people have been detained in the wake of Friday’s brutal assault on Crocus City Hall spectators awaiting concert

Russia’s law enforcement and security services have detained a total of 11 suspects following Friday’s terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue in the outskirts of Moscow. The detainees include the four alleged perpetrators of the massacre that has claimed the lives of more than 130 and left over 150 injured, according to Russian domestic security service the FSB.

Details about the suspects’ identities and the circumstances of the attack are still emerging. According to the FSB, the assault was carefully planned and designed to maximize casualties. An investigation into the incident is underway. Here is what is known so far:

Detention

The four primary suspects were detained in the early hours of Saturday in Russia’s Bryansk Region, bordering Ukraine, an FSB statement said. The alleged perpetrators were traveling in a white Renault Symbol/Clio car they used to flee the scene, according to the 78.ru news media outlet.

Following a brief chase by Russian law enforcement officials, the suspects abandoned the car. One of them was detained at that scene while three others sought to hide in woods, prompting a large-scale manhunt, media are reporting.

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First interrogation of Moscow terrorist attack suspect (VIDEO)

Later, several videos showing the detention and interrogation of the alleged perpetrators surfaced online. Two of the videos were published by RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, with another one released by journalist Aleksandr Kots. At least one suspect was injured during a standoff with law enforcement officers and was hospitalized, the Mash Telegram channel reported.

Russian officials have not commented on the information about the alleged hospitalization of one of the suspects. On Saturday, the FSB released a statement in which it said that a total of 11 people had been detained in connection with the incident, including four alleged attackers.

“The criminals intended to cross the Russia-Ukraine border and had relevant contacts on the Ukrainian side,” it added, referring to the four primary suspects. The other seven detentions took place in Moscow and the Moscow region, according to Russian media

Identity of the suspects

Russian law enforcement officials have not released any data on the names or nationalities of the eleven being held. The Russian Interior Ministry only confirmed that none of the primary suspects had Russian citizenship.

“The Interior Ministry’s migration department, together with our FSB colleagues, is carefully studying the grounds for stay and the length of stay on Russian territory for each of those detained,” ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said.

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Footage of the questioning of the suspected perpetrators shows one of them speaking in broken Russian and another talking to officers through an interpreter. One of the suspects claimed he had been to Türkiye and had only come to Russia in early March. No information has been made public about the identities of their seven alleged accomplices.

Weapons and equipment

Footage taken at the scene and released by the Russian Investigative Committee shows that the attackers were armed with what appeared to be assault rifles and were equipped with a large number of ammunition rounds. At least one such weapon resembling an AK assault rifle can be seen in the clip, along with almost a dozen dispenser magazines still loaded with ammunition rounds.

Russia’s Lenta news outlet also reported that a Saiga hunting rifle had also been found at that scene. A Makarov handgun and one more dispenser magazine were also discovered in the suspects’ car during their detention in the Bryansk region, according to Russian media.

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A person lays flowers at an improvised memorial near the Crocus City Hall in the Moscow Region, Russia, on March 23, 2024.
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One of the suspects claimed during questioning that a weapons cache had been arranged for them by curators they did not know personally and only contacted via Telegram. A vehicle they’d used in the attack was also allegedly bought from one of the suspects’ relatives shortly before the terrorist act.

Motives

One of the suspects filmed during his interrogation by law enforcement officers claimed that he had committed the crime “for money.” The man stated he had been promised 500,000 rubles ($5,418) and had half of this transferred to his debit card before the attack.

The alleged perpetrator also said he had been “listening to sermons… by a preacher” on Telegram for some time before being approached by the supposed masterminds of Friday’s attack “around a month ago.” When further pressed about what he did in Crocus City Hall on Friday, the man said that he “shot down … people,” adding that he was just tasked with killing people and it “did not matter,” whom he would kill.

None of the suspects explicitly pledged allegiance to any extremist group during the questioning that was made public.

Possible masterminds

The Russian investigative authorities did not name any suspected organizers behind the attack. Neither have they signaled any links between the primary suspects and any extremist groups or outside forces, except for some Ukrainian “contacts” that were supposedly ready to aid them with crossing into Ukraine, according to the FSB.

Some Western media, including Reuters and CNN, reported that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group also allegedly published a photo of the four suspects posing against the backdrop of an IS flag. The photo, which has since been shared by some media, shows four men wearing baseball caps with their faces covered. Moscow has not commented on the IS claims.

March 24, 2024 at 04:25AM
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