Moscow charges four Isis gunmen as Jeremy Hunt warns Europe to remain vigilant against terror

The four alleged suspects have been taken into the Russian Investigative Committee HQ

Holly Evans
Sunday 24 March 2024 23:38 GMT
Blindfolded concert attack 'suspects' dragged into Moscow HQ

Russian authorities have released footage of claimed terror suspects in blindfolds being dragged into the country’s Investigation Committee headquarters in Moscow.

Four suspected gunmen involved in the terror attack in the city, which killed 137 people at a concert hall and saw the building set ablaze, have been arrested and charged.

The four men, Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov, appeared in court with bruised and swollen faces.

Rachabalizoda’s ear was bandaged after reportedly having had part of it severed during his arrest. Fayzov appeared in a wheelchair and appeared to be missing an eye, according to Reuters.

Three of the four, with the exception of Fayzov, admitted guilt after being charged. They will be held in custody until at least May before facing a trial.

Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda has been remanded in custody for two months pending trial (Reuters)

State news media has shown the capture and interrogation of the suspects following a police chase, with a faction of the extremist group Isis claiming responsibility in three different videos and messages since Friday.

This included posting an image of the four terrorists, as well as a graphic video of the gunmen entering the foyer of Crocus City Hall and opening fire on innocent civilians.

On pro-Kremlin channels, footage has emerged of one of the suspects saying he carried out the attack for money, after being recruited over the messaging app Telegram.

It comes as US vice-president Kamala Harris rejected Russian president Vladimir Putin’s claims that Ukraine was involved in the attack.

“What we know to be the case is that Isis-K is actually, by all accounts, responsible for what happened,” she said in an interview with ABC News in the US.

A massive blaze at Crocus City Hall on Friday evening (AP)

Addressing the nation after the deadliest attack inside the country for two decades, Mr Putin said 11 people had been detained in total as he vowed that anyone who ordered the assault at Crocus City Hall would be “justly and inevitably punished”.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt warned that European countries must “remain vigilant” after the attack, which suggests the jihadist group still maintains the organising capacity for major atrocities.

Speaking to broadcasters, the chancellor described the loss of civilian life as a “tragedy” but condemned the Kremlin after it appeared to seek to link Ukraine, which Russia invaded two years ago, to the attack.

“We have very little confidence in anything the Russian government says. We know that they are creating a smokescreen of propaganda to defend an utterly evil invasion of Ukraine,” Mr Hunt said.

The UK should ‘absolutely’ be concerned about the threat of Isis, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said yesterday (PA Wire)

“But that doesn’t mean it’s not a tragedy when innocent people lose their lives … But I take what the Russian government says with an enormous pinch of salt.”

While the Russian authorities have not commented on the Isis claim, Mr Putin said the assailants were caught as they were trying to flee to Ukraine.

“Based on preliminary information, a window for crossing the border was prepared for them by the Ukrainian side,” Mr Putin said.

Ukraine has swiftly dismissed the Russian claims as “absolutely untenable and absurd”.

“Isis bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” said US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.

Vladimir Putin has sought to place blame for the attack on Ukraine (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The US shared information with Russia earlier this month about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow, and issued a public warning to Americans in Russia.

Some commentators on Russian social media questioned how authorities, who have relentlessly suppressed any opposition activities and muzzled independent media, failed to prevent the attack despite the US warnings.

During his speech to the nation, Mr Putin did not mention Isis, and Kyiv accused him of falsely linking Ukraine to the assault to stoke fervour for Russia’s invasion, which recently entered its third year.

Islamic State – Khorasan (Isis-K), named after a region that included parts of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, has garnered a reputation for brutality, including claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing at Russia’s Kabul embassy in 2022.

Russia announced a national day of mourning on Sunday (AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, family and friends of those still missing after the Moscow attack waited for news of their loved ones as Russia observed a day of national mourning on Sunday. Events at cultural institutions were cancelled, flags were lowered and television entertainment and advertising were suspended, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

A steady stream of people added to a makeshift memorial near the burnt-out concert hall, creating a huge mound of flowers.

As rescuers continue to search the damaged building and the death toll rises as more bodies are found, some families still don’t know if relatives who went to the event targeted by gunmen on Friday are alive.

Moscow’s Department of Health said it has begun identifying the bodies of those killed via DNA testing, which it expects will take at least two weeks to complete.

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