US says it warned Russia of imminent 'extremist' attack weeks ago but Putin points finger at Ukraine despite ISIS claim

24 March 2024, 00:01

US says it warned Russia of imminent 'extremist' attack weeks ago but Putin points finger at Ukraine despite ISIS claim
US says it warned Russia of imminent 'extremist' attack weeks ago but Putin points finger at Ukraine despite ISIS claim. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

The United States has said it warned Russia about the possibility of an imminent 'extremist' attack weeks ago following a deadly attack on a Moscow convert venue Friday.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The US embassy in Moscow issued the security alert on March 7, it said, warning that it was "monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts".

It also warned American ex-pats in Russia at the time on its website that an attack was expected within the next 48 hours.

The horrifying attack saw several assailants burst into a concert hall on the edge of Moscow. They sprayed the crowd with gunfire, killing at least 133 people, injuring more than 100 others and setting fire to the venue in a brazen attack.

Friday night's attack was the deadliest in Russia since the Beslan school siege that saw more than 300 killed.

A Russian Rosguardia (National Guard) serviceman secures an area as a massive blaze seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Friday
A Russian Rosguardia (National Guard) serviceman secures an area as a massive blaze seen over the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Friday. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Putin claims all Moscow terror suspects arrested after trying to flee to Ukraine, with 133 victims shot dead

Read More: 'Eleven people arrested' after 115 shot dead and over 100 hurt in Moscow, including four 'directly involved in attack'

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on affiliated channels on social media. This could not be independently verified, however, but IS has previously taken responsibility for attacks it has not committed.

The US issued its warning over a potential attack earlier this month hours after Russian FSB agents said it had prevented an attack on a Moscow synagogue. It said the attack was being planned by Islamic State.

Putin pointed the finger of blame at Ukraine, however, where Russia is waging a war that has dragged into its third year. He gave no evidence for his claims.

Russia is no stranger to mass attacks with high death tolls.

During the early 2000s and 2010s, a series of suicide bombings and attacks unfolded across Moscow, including the 2002 Nord Ost theatre siege, where 132 hostages and 40 Chechen hostage-takers died after a mishandled Russian rescue response.

Most of the attacks were carried out by Islamist separatists from the North Caucasus, but in recent years, they have largely stopped. The relative absence of such violence has lulled Russians into a sense of security, even while the country's army fights in Ukraine.

Ukraine has vehemently denied any link to the attack, but Putin said in his address that they were trying to cross the border into the country.

He said: "They tried to hide and moved towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border.

"Putin expressed his condolences for the families of the victims, and declared a day of mourning.

"Terrorists, killers can expect only one thing, they can expect punishment," he said.

Expert: Putin has been 'humiliated' by Moscow attack

A medic stands near ambulances parked outside the burning building of the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Friday
A medic stands near ambulances parked outside the burning building of the Crocus City Hall on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Friday. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Prince and Princess of Wales 'extremely grateful' and 'moved by public's support' after Kate's cancer announcement

Read More: King Charles hopes to lead Royals at 'Easter Lite' service in 'show of unity' amid his and Kate's cancer treatment

Following the attack, shocked Russians took flowers and teddy bears on Saturday to the Crocus City concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow, to pay their respects to more than 100 people who died in a grisly attack claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.

Mourners hung flowers on fences and piled them on the ground a short distance from the concert hall where gunmen opened fire on a crowd and set off explosives that started a huge fire.

Amid the grief, firefighters pulled bodies from the rubble and worked to put out the flames.

Videos on social media showed candles and flowers being laid in memory of the dead and wounded at monuments across Russia and at Russian embassies abroad.

The attack happened just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin cemented his grip on power by securing a record-breaking fifth term after harshly suppressing opposition voices during a highly choreographed election.

The attack was the deadliest in Russia in years and left the concert hall a ruin.

The assault shattered nerves in Moscow and recalled memories of similar attacks that happened in the early years of Mr Putin's presidency.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Exclusive
Rishi Sunak speaks exclusively to LBC

Rishi Sunak vows to serve as a backbencher for five years if Tories loses the election

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, billionaire co-owner of Manchester United, and Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell

'They can probably afford Labour's tax rises': Sunak brushes off billionaires abandoning Tories

Exclusive
Rishi Sunak says Brits 'don't have to worry' about Tories cutting disability benefits if he wins election

Rishi Sunak says Brits 'don't have to worry' about Tories cutting disability benefits if he wins election

Exclusive
Rishi Sunak has said he is “excited” for his daughters to do national service

Sunak reveals his daughters are 'excited' to do National Service - certainly more than 'learning maths until 18'

Rishi Sunak said Frank Hester had "made a mistake and honestly apologised"

'He's learned from it': Rishi Sunak explains why he is refusing to hand back £15m Frank Hester donations

Exclusive
Rishi Sunak

Sunak insists 'the only poll that matters is July 4' as he defends dire polling for Tories ahead of election

Brits would prefer to have Keir Starmer as their GP over Rishi Sunak, a poll has found.

Dr Starmer will see you now! Polling shows sixty per cent of people would pick Keir ahead of Rishi as their GP

Inflation has fallen to its lowest level in three years

UK inflation rate falls to lowest level in three years hitting Bank of England target

Live
Rishi Sunak on LBC.

General Election LIVE: Sunak says daughters 'excited' for national service, only poll that matters is July 4

Boris Johnson will not return to the campaign trail

Boris Johnson will ‘no longer return to the campaign trail’ as former PM heads on summer holiday

UK cancer care is lagging behind the rest of Europe, a new study has found

UK cancer care ‘stuck in the noughties’ as new study shows European countries such as Sweden are ‘20 years ahead’

Exclusive
Rishi Sunak is following Sir Keir Starmer in taking questions from LBC listeners this morning

Starmer refuses to rule out council tax hike and reveals hopes for new Brexit deal - now it's your turn to quiz Sunak

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer take your calls on LBC

Rishi Sunak follows Keir Starmer in taking listeners' calls as part of Global's biggest ever Election coverage

Justin Timberlake's mugshot has been released

Justin Timberlake mugshot released after singer arrested for 'driving while intoxicated' in wealthy Hamptons enclave

Former Conservative Party donor John Caudwell has said he is backing Labour to win the General Election.

Former Tory donor John Caudwell backs Labour in General Election

Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen 'looking forward to returning to work' as he thanks NHS staff for help after falling off West End stage