ISIS behind Crocus City Hall shooting in Moscow - ISW

Crocus City Hall
Crocus City Hall

The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group is most likely involved in the shooting at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, the U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in their report on March 23.

ISIS's Amaq news agency said that the militants had attacked a "large gathering of Christians" on the outskirts of Moscow.

Later, the agency released a blurry image of four militants standing in front of an Islamic State flag, claiming to have carried out the "most brutal attack in years."

Read also: Moscow mass shooters claimed to be Tajik nationals and ISIS fighters

According to ISW, this message is consistent in terms of style, branding, and language with previous Amaq statements about other attacks.

It is noted that Islamic State media make "rarely" and cautiously make false statements because they are trying to maintain a "high level of credibility" in their messages in order to define clear ideological goals and maintain funding streams.

Read also: Alleged suspect in Crocus City Hall shooting forced to eat own ear by Russian law enforcement

ISIS propaganda allows the group to raise funds and disseminate its instructions to commanders and lower-level supporters. The ISW noted that the Islamic State risks discrediting itself in the competitive community of Salafist jihadists by falsely claiming responsibility for "very high-profile attacks."

Analysts have suggested that the shooting could have been carried out by representatives of the Afghanistan-based Islamic State unit ISIS-X (Khorasan). This unit has carried out at least four high-profile attacks outside of Central Asia over the past 18 months.

Read also: Putin's address on mass shooting in Moscow changed 3 times overnight

It is very unlikely that the Islamic State carried out the attack on the orders of Ukrainian special services, as several Russian sources have claimed, ISW writes.

ISW added that the Kremlin has not yet officially accused Ukraine of involvement in the shooting in Crocus City Hall.

Read also: FSB alleges Ukraine connection in Moscow mass shooting following arrest of 11 suspects

The analysts concluded that Russian officials are likely to indirectly link Ukraine to the attack to create conditions for information operations.

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