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Last Friday’s deadly attack on Moscow’s Crocus City Hall, which left 137 people dead, has sparked mourning in Russia and raised questions about the country’s intelligence and security services. While Moscow has blamed Ukraine for the attack, ISIS-K has claimed responsibility, and U.S. intelligence suggests the extremist group was behind the incident. The FSB, Russia’s counterterrorism agency, has come under scrutiny for failing to prevent the attack, despite warnings from the U.S.

The attackers drove up to Crocus City Hall and opened fire on people waiting to enter the building, before setting it on fire and leaving the scene. The U.S. had issued warnings about a potential terrorist attack in Moscow targeting large gatherings earlier in the month, but it appears that Russian authorities may not have acted on this information. Experts point to the FSB’s focus on Ukraine and other threats, which may have distracted them from potential attacks originating from the Middle East.

The Kremlin’s rhetoric following the attack has been contradictory, with President Putin blaming radical Islamists while also seeking to tie the U.S. and Ukraine to the incident. Russian state media reported that the attackers were from Tajikistan, but there have been conflicting statements regarding their motivations and connections. The FSB chief, Alexander Bortnikov, blamed foreign powers for the attack, further muddying the waters surrounding the investigation.

The consequences of the attack for the FSB remain uncertain, as the agency may face increased scrutiny and pressure to prevent future incidents. While there may be a greater security presence in the aftermath of the attack, the ongoing conflict with Ukraine is likely to continue to dominate the FSB’s resources and attention. The agency’s reputation may not suffer drastic consequences in the short term, but the incident has highlighted the need for improved intelligence and security measures to prevent future attacks.

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