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29 Mar, 2024 16:32

Terror mastermind told attack suspects to flee to Kiev – investigators

Last week’s Crocus City Hall attack was organized anonymously via social media, according to officials
Terror mastermind told attack suspects to flee to Kiev – investigators

The chief suspects in last week's terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow have testified that their orders came from a mystery man who told them to flee to Ukraine afterwards, the Russian Investigative Committee announced on Friday.

Security services detained the four suspected perpetrators near the Ukrainian border last Saturday. The attack claimed 144 lives and left over 200 people hospitalized.

In their initial testimonies and during their subsequent interrogations, the suspects said the attacks were prepared in coordination with “a man who introduced himself to them under a pseudonym,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement. He communicated with them by voice messages sent over Telegram, it added.

“On the instructions of the coordinator, after committing the crime, the terrorists drove in a car towards the Russian-Ukrainian border to subsequently cross it and arrive in Kiev to receive the promised reward,” the law enforcement agency said.

The Investigative Committee has said it is continuing to “verify the involvement of representatives of Ukrainian special services in organizing and financing the terrorist attack.”

Russian special forces intercepted the four suspected perpetrators last Saturday, en route to the Ukrainian border. They were identified as nationals of Tajikistan and initially described by officials as “radical Islamists.”

The terrorist group Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the massacre. The US and EU have insisted that ISIS-K was the sole culprit and that Ukraine was in no way involved.

Moscow, however, remains skeptical. President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the heads of the FSB and the Investigative Committee have all claimed that multiple clues point to Kiev’s involvement. Lavrov described the West’s insistence on Ukraine’s innocence as suspicious in itself.

On Thursday, the Investigative Committee revealed that the four suspects had received “significant sums of money” from Ukraine, in the form of cryptocurrency. The funds were then used to prepare the attack on Crocus City Hall, the agency said.

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