The security failures behind the Russian Bataclan

A week ago, Russia was still immersed in its day-to-day life, immersed in that new reality that was officially established after the famous Special Military Operation. The threat came from Ukraine through drones and armed groups that attacked the Belgorod border region. The Russians, accustomed to this news, were unaware that something tremendous was about to happen in the capital and that 143 people would die at the hands of an enemy thousands of kilometers from Kyiv. A week after the terrible Crocus City attack, the country still does not understand the reason for what happened, while the investigation continues and many of the injured remain hospitalized. Since Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999, Russia has suffered attacks from Chechen and then Islamist terrorism on several occasions. Six of the 20 deadliest attacks in the world in the last 50 years have been carried out on Russian soil. Terrorist acts such as those that demolished entire buildings in the summer of 1999 and left 294 dead remain in the memory of its citizens. What happened at the Dubrovka theater in Moscow in 2002, with 130 deaths. In the Beslan school in 2004, with 334 deaths. In the city of Rostov-on-Don in 2004, with 90 fatalities. In the Moscow metro, in 2010, with two attacks that took the lives of 39 people, or in the Crocus City concert hall, just seven days ago, with 143 deaths. Between 1994 and 2005, Russia has suffered a total of 14 attacks and hostage takings attributed to terrorists from the North Caucasus, mainly Chechen separatists, with a death toll of almost 1,500. From 2010 to 2024, the country suffered from Islamist terrorism originating in the Caucasus and Central Asia, with five attacks that caused the death of 300 people.

The pacification of Chechnya has been, without a doubt, one of Putin's greatest victoriesruling out any threat from the region governed with an iron fist by Ramzan Kadyrov, son of Akmat Kadyrov, assassinated in May 2004. But the Kremlin has always viewed the proliferation of Tajik ethnic groups radicalized by ISIS-K, something that has been seen these days after the arrest of the four men suspected of carrying out the attack, from Tajikistan.

It is known that the agency responsible for combating terrorism in Russia is called the Second Service and is a branch of the Federal Security Service, or FSBthat Until a year ago it had specialized in Islamist extremists, murder gangs and local neo-Nazi groups.. With the passage of time, and especially as a result of the war with Ukraine, the list of objectives of this department has increased to accommodate everything that could pose a threat to the stability of the country, such as opposition figures and their supporters, as well as leaders of the LGBT movements, human rights activists, Jehovah's Witnesses, peace activists and other critics of the Kremlin. According to analysts consulted by media such as the New York Times, this may have meant a decrease in effective work against these real threats. The full account of what really happened seven days ago is still unclear, and American and European officials, as well as security and counterterrorism experts, emphasize that even in the best of circumstances, with very specific information and well-trained security services, it is difficult to disrupt covert international terrorist plots. But they do not rule out that the materialization of the attack was probably due to a combination of factors and some fatal coincidences, not ruling out the deep levels of mistrust, both within the Russian security system and in its relations with other global intelligence agencies.

On March 7, just one day after the United States embassy in Moscow warned of a possible terrorist attack, the Russian Security Service, or FSB, announced that it had killed two Kazakh citizens southwest of Moscow, foiling an ISIS-K plot to attack a synagogue in the capital. At the same time, the level of security in the Russian capital was raised, which could be one of the reasons why the terrorists were able to postpone the date of their attack, which could have been scheduled for several days before.

Moscow, which continues to investigate what happened at Crocus City Hall, announced yesterday through the Russian Investigative Committee that it had discovered evidence that the detained terrorists were linked to “Ukrainian nationalists,” specifying that the attackers had received significant amounts of cash. and cryptocurrencies from Ukraine, something that the Kyiv government was quick to deny.