Espreso. Global

U.S. government has warned Russia of terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall - The Washington Post

3 April, 2024 Wednesday

More than two weeks before the terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall shopping mall in the Moscow region, the US government warned Russian officials that the mall was a potential terrorist target

The Washington Post reports this with reference to American officials.

The publication writes that the US warning about the specific location of the alleged terrorist attack raises the question of why the Russian authorities did not take more decisive measures to protect the mall.

According to analysts and observers of Russian politics, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's operatives are more concerned with eliminating political dissent and opposition to the president than with rooting out terrorist plots.

While Washington regularly shares information about possible terrorist attacks with foreign powers, under a policy known as the "duty to warn," it is unusual to give information about specific targets to an adversary, officials and experts say. This could reveal ways in which the United States obtains intelligence, potentially jeopardizing clandestine surveillance activities or human sources.

Despite the lack of effective security at the Crocus, there are signs that the Russian government, at least initially, took Washington's warning seriously, which included information about Islamic State plans to attack the synagogue, according to one U.S. official. The day after Moscow received the information, the FSB announced that it had prevented an ISIS attack on a synagogue in Moscow.

Islam Khalilov, 15, who said he was working in the concert hall’s coat check on the night of the attack, said that Crocus staff had been told about the possibility of a terrorist attack, not long after the March 7 public warning. 

"We were warned there could be terrorist attacks and we were instructed in what to do and where to take people," Khalilov said in an interview. According to him, security checks were intensified at the site.

It is possible that Russian security services, having seen no attack in the days shortly after March 7, assumed that U.S. information was incorrect and let their guard down, some U.S. officials suggested.

Terrorist attack in Crocus City Hall: what is known

In Krasnogorsk, Moscow region, a shooting took place at the Crocus City Hall concert venue before the start of the Picnic band's performance. Over 130 people have been reported dead as well as many wounded. The FSB says it has allegedly detained the suspects.

Starting on March 7, American diplomats warned of the threat of terrorist attacks in the Russian capital, Moscow. Subsequently, similar statements were made by representatives of several other Western countries.

Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate is convinced that the shooting at the Crocus shopping center in Moscow is a deliberate provocation by the Putin regime, and the Foreign Ministry said the world should strongly reject Russia's false accusations of Ukraine's alleged involvement. The White House also rejected Ukraine's involvement. 

On March 23, Vladimir Putin made an address on the terrorist attack. According to the Russian dictator, Ukraine was "preparing a window" to allow terrorists who had staged a terrorist attack in Moscow to escape. 

On March 25, at a meeting with security officials, Putin admitted that "radical Islamists" had carried out the attack, but blamed the shooting on "those who are fighting Russia with the hands of the Kyiv regime."

The Secretary of the Russian Security Council, the Director of the FSB, and the spokesperson for the Russian President repeated Putin's version of the "Ukrainian trace" and the involvement of Western intelligence services in the terrorist attack in Moscow. At the same time, self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko denied that the alleged perpetrators of the terrorist attack were trying to escape to Ukraine.

The Center for Countering Disinformation doubts that the Crocus attack could have been carried out by the perpetrators identified by the Russian authorities.

The US National Security Council (NSC) on Sunday, March 24, unequivocally rejected Russia's attempts to accuse Ukraine of organizing the terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall shopping mall near Moscow.

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