NEW: ISIS Claims Responsibility for Moscow Attack in Surprise Twist, Skepticism Follows

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Shortly after a massive terrorist attack in Moscow, Russia, the first unverified claim of responsibility has been made. 

Initial speculation centered on Chechen rebels or Ukrainians, but according to a post put out by the Amaq News Agency, which is the propaganda wing for ISIS, the terrorist group is saying it carried out the attack.

SEE: Terror Attack in Moscow Concert Hall

Reports from the scene suggest the men who carried out the attack were bearded and carrying Russian AK-style weapons. That doesn’t exactly narrow it down given the proliferation of both throughout the world. Still, there is reason to believe that ISIS could be responsible. 

Despite it not garnering many headlines in the United States, ISIS has seen a resurgence in Syria in recent months. Kurdish forces in the country delivered a warning in February about the terrorist group’s building strength. That turn of events comes after ISIS was essentially destroyed and left powerless under the Trump administration. 

The question is, does this make sense? There are reasons to think it does. Despite the U.S.-centric approach to every major world event that permeates the general discourse, not everything is about America, the CIA, or whatever other bogeyman people might want to blame. 

Russia has been battling ISIS for years in Syria as an ally of the Bashar al-Assad regime. It stands to reason that the terrorists in question are not big fans of the leadership in Moscow, and it is almost certainly easier for ISIS to plan and carry out an attack like this in Russia than it is in the United States. Despite that, skepticism is warranted and has not been in short supply since the declaration of responsibility was made (take a look at the replies to the above post for examples). 

What are the alternatives? Some have suggested this is a false-flag operation carried out by Vladimir Putin. That doesn’t add up given he just “won” (i.e. in a rigged election) re-election by a massive margin. If this attack were meant to be a manufactured rallying point, which he doesn’t need, it would have made more sense to carry it out before the election. 

Others have claimed Ukraine is involved. Again, that’s unlikely. The Ukrainians and their supporters who aren’t under their direct control wouldn’t want to provoke an outsized response from Russia. Whenever something like this happens, you have to look for motivation. There’s no “win” there for Ukraine. On the contrary, it would be counter-productive to their cause. 

Jihadis don’t work off such logic, though. Death and destruction mixed with religious zealotry is all the motivation they need to carry out an attack like this. ISIS leadership isn’t rational. It doesn’t operate with normal geo-political calculations. That combined with the target Russia has had on its back for years for its role in Syria makes it completely believable that ISIS carried out this massacre. 

That doesn’t mean they were, though. There will need to be more verification than a self-delivered claim of responsibility. ISIS absolutely could have done this, but while it does make sense, nothing is certain yet.

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