US Warning of Crocus Attack Named the Very Hall: Officials

Russia's response suggests it didn't take the caution seriously
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2024 7:23 AM CDT
US Warning of Crocus Attack Named the Very Hall: Officials
People lay flowers and light candles standing next to the Crocus City Hall, on the western edge of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 23, 2024.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

More questions are being raised about Russia's response to its worst terrorist attack in decades as US officials now say they not only warned Russia of a possible attack in advance, but named the very concert venue. Hours after Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (FSB), claimed Tuesday that the warning of a possible attack was too general to prevent it, the Washington Post published a report citing US officials who said the warning—reportedly delivered March 6, a day before the US Embassy's public announcement—included mention of the Crocus City Hall concert venue outside Moscow as a potential target.

"The high degree of specificity ... directly contradicts Moscow's claims that the US warnings were too general to help preempt the assault," per the Post. It also raises questions about why authorities weren't able to prevent gunmen from entering the venue and unleashing horrors before setting the building aflame, killing more than 140 people. "At the time of the attack, no additional security measures were in place at the venue," the New York Times reports. "Russian media has reported that specialized police units did not arrive until more than an hour after the shooting started, and then waited more than 30 minutes before entering the building, by which point the assailants had already escaped," per the Post.

The outlet notes it was "unusual" for the US to share such specific information with an adversary because it might've exposed US intelligence sources. This only "underscores Washington's confidence that the Islamic State was preparing an attack that threatened large numbers of civilians." Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed warnings from "a number of official Western structures" three days before the attack, calling them "outright blackmail" meant to "intimidate and destabilize our society." He also emphasized the FSB was focused on Russia's war in Ukraine and Kyiv's "terrorist tactics." He has since claimed Ukraine was linked to the March 22 attack, which has been claimed by ISIS-Khorasan.

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On Tuesday, Naryshkin said the US information was "too general and did not allow us to fully identify those who committed this terrible crime," per the Post. Still, he claimed Russia "took appropriate measures to prevent" an attack. A teenage employee of the concert hall said staff were informed about the possiblity of an attack shortly after March 7, "instructed in what to do and where to take people." He also said security checks were implemented. US officials suggest the Russians let their guard down when no attack surfaced in the immediate aftermath, per the Post. The US warning was not precise on timing, per the Times. (Iran warned Russia, too.)

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