Espreso. Global

Who are ISIS-K, who took responsibility for terrorist attack on Moscow's Crocus City?

24 March, 2024 Sunday

ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on Moscow and promised to continue. Who are they and why do they hate Russia?

The first thought of many Ukrainians after the attack on Crocus City was that it was another "Ryazan sugar". This is a perfectly logical assumption, especially when you know about Putin's track record. But it seems that it is indeed ISIS. So let me remind you a little bit.

ISIS is a Sunni Islamic organization that is a carrier of Salafi jihadism. Salafism is a very specific trend that calls for literal imitation of practices that were used by communities from the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It is a kind of Islamic radical reformation.

The goal of ISIS is to assert its ideals on the planet by creating a World Caliphate. Or at least to restore the Righteous Caliphate of the VII-VIII centuries.

Organizations that later transformed into ISIS began to exist as early as 1999. The Islamic State of Iraq declared itself ISIS in 2006, and in 2014 it transformed (by merging with several other organizations) into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And it declared itself a global caliphate.

Read also: Terrorist attack in Moscow. The show is just beginning...

Who is the enemy of ISIS? The enemy of ISIS is everything that is not ISIS. Historically, it was other Muslims who suffered the most from the actions of ISIS. Both during the existence of the de facto state of ISIS in Syria and Iraq (2014-2019), and before and after. And for ISIS-K, the main enemy is "other" Muslims, and only then Russia. More on this below.

ISIS is the logical culmination of both fundamentalism and extremism. It germinated and scaled up perfectly in the war-torn territories of Iraq and Syria. And a poor and disadvantaged population without strong control of a secular state is an excellent material for religious propaganda and recruitment.

So when people say that ISIS is a project of the FSB, it's hilarious. The ideas that led to the emergence of ISIS are much older than Russia. And the social and political base is not very dependent on Russia. Although, of course, it is quite likely that ISIS has incorporated various intelligence and security agency agents. For example, the Americans somehow learned that ISIS was preparing terrorist attacks against Russia.

So, let's talk briefly about what ISIS-K is, or, as they call themselves, Wilāyat Khurāsān. This is, in fact, a part of ISIS that operates on the territory of the historical region of - suddenly - Khorasan. Khorasan is one of the three regions of Central Asia, which covers the territories of modern Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, parts of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. ISIS-K does not operate in the entire territory of historic Khorasan but considers it its target area. Accordingly, the recruitment of people takes place in Central Asia, and the political perspective is local.

Currently, the main enemy of ISIS-K is... the Taliban. ISIS is now accusing the Taliban of not being Muslim enough. Literally: they are now criticizing the Taliban for not enforcing Sharia law strictly enough and for being too liberal. In second place, of course, is Shiite Iran. Yes, for ISIS, Shiites are even more evil than, say, Christians, because they consider Shiites to be heretics and apostates.

In this context, Russia is a natural enemy of ISIS. First, it is now a direct ally of Iran. Second, it is actually a partner of the Taliban. In addition, according to ISIS, both the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Russian invasion of Syria are crimes against Islam.

Why did the FSB miss this terrorist attack? If we put aside pure conspiracy theories, everything is quite logical: all Russian forces are thrown into the war against Ukraine, including the best personnel of the FSB. Russia has no excess of forces and resources. Therefore, the country is simply not ready for such manifestations of asymmetric action. If ISIS-K wants to continue, it will. Otherwise, Putin will have to throw resources at it.

Why does Russia blame the United States and Ukraine? Well, what else can they do? Say that we have found a fictional enemy, spent all our resources on the war against him, and now we are vulnerable to another, real enemy, who was raised by our own crimes in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Syria? Or what? This is a way to try to put it off a sick head.



About the author. Yuriy Bohdanov, publicist, strategic communications specialist in business, public administration and politics

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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