© Mahdi Rteil / Al MayadeenThe Crocus Concert Hall Atrocity: No going back
The details of the arrested perpetrators of the Crocus Concert Hall massacre and their mode of operation does not comport with the notion of their being ideological supporters of ISIS.

Why is it that the EU and the US are so adamant about who is behind the Crocus Concert Hall atrocity, that they will not wait out the investigation? Within 55 minutes of the attack, the US spokesperson said 'Ukraine wasn't involved'. Now the US is saying - definitively - that only ISIS was involved.

"No concrete advance warning - nothing was transferred to us", Russia's Washington Ambassador insists.

Why are Western states so certain? It is most unusual for Intelligence services to pronounce within the hour. Though the actual perpetrators are now known, the key question remains: Who stands behind the attack? Things are not always as they seem.

Comment: Two days ago Russia's FSB chief was asked whether they thought the US, UK, and Ukraine, could be behind the terror attack, to which he responded: "We think that this is so. [...] they [investigators] also have concrete results."

At the moment, there is insufficient evidence to say -- let alone with absolute certainty -- that the attack committed in Moscow was planned, prepared and executed to some Islamic State master-plan.

ISIS-K has been operating for some years, more as a 'rat-run' extending from Turkey to Syria; to Afghanistan and Iran. It is a franchise on behalf of which terrorist acts are committed, funds raised, and resources prepared.

ISIS-K, which originated amongst Tajik dissidents in northern Afghanistan, unites certain groups and conducts active operations largely against the Taliban movement. It provides an umbrella for terrorist actions too in northern Iran. It has had no particular interest in Russia.

Behind ISIS have stood certain Muslim States -- and their Western backers.

The details of the arrested perpetrators and their mode of operation however, does not comport with the notion of their being ideological supporters of ISIS. They may have ostensibly been broadly Islamist, but were in reality mercenaries motivated by the lure of money. ISIS recruits expect and get martyrdom. These men simply jumped in a car, wanting to escape. In an ISIS operation, they would have continued the massacre -- until shot dead.

There are many other inconsistencies to the ISIS claim. The assailants may have been pious Islamists, but likely not ISIS. Even their oath with the left hand raised was wrong. The Amaq statement too, is problematic in several respects. In the past Amaq has claimed attacks in Iran, with subsequent Amaq communiques having to be 'corrected'. Livestream coverage of an attack is unheard of.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insists that though Russia knows who carried out the attack, it is too early to speculate on 'who gave the ultimate order' (President Putin's, as yet, unanswered question).

Comment: It's possible that Russia has definitive proof of which entities were responsible but, for strategic reasons, is withholding it.

All of which returns to the question, why has the West been hyper-adamant about the ISIS sole attribution? Why does it wish to pre-empt the Russian investigation?

Beijing's Global Times says that it is unlikely for the IS to have masterminded the attack because the situation in Syria has already stabilized. But it goes to the heart when it warns that support for Kiev would dwindle, were Ukraine's involvement in the terror attack to be established.

The EU élites' commitment to Ukraine represents the unspoken disaster that is quashing any lingering aspirations for Europe achieving its genuine strategic autonomy; it is vassalizing Europe to the United States, and leaving the Continent at its weakest since the end of World War II. Europe has lost badly.

Macron's fear of a Russian victory in Ukraine obliterating Europe's 'credibility' only makes sense when the Ruling Strata's imperial project of a top-down, centralised Geo-political EU is precisely leveraged on Ukrainian plight.

Yet, against the reality of last summer's failed Ukrainian military offensive, the fervour for 'Project Ukraine' persists -- and trumps all other considerations.


Because the EU's panglossian 'hunt' after strategic autonomy (encapsulated in its mantra of building a geo-political EU) is tied to Ukraine.

"Recognizing the emotive power of Ukraine's struggle against Russian dominance", Arta Moeini writes, "European élites have appropriated this struggle to preach the ideological precepts of "European-ness" and, indeed, of civilization itself";
"Seemingly overnight, Ukraine came to stand for enlightened "European values" — freedom, democracy, tolerance, good governance, and so on — with Russia transformed into 'civilized Europe's opposite, the barbarian horde at the gate".

"As Nietzsche was the first to grasp, modernity is an epoch in which the world is experienced primarily through the lens of oppression with identities formed out of the "ethic of ressentiment": The downtrodden are deemed inherently righteous and accorded the ultimate moral value. Under this dispensation, the defense of "the oppressed" - becomes the ... vehicle for the ruling class to gain and consolidate power - sanctifying their supremacy and planting the seed for their future power as the great liberators".
Ultimately, the EU's ruling élites seek to 'trans-nationalise' power upwards from member states to Brussels.

Here lies the seeds of the present putative panic: When it became evident that Ukraine's conventional military efforts were a flop, a number of hawks in the US and Europe quickly swung to singing the praises of asymmetric warfare -- on Russia and its civilian population, itself.

This asymmetry began slowly: a few random drone attacks that did little damage. This then accelerated to missiles fired into the centres of Belgorod killing civilians; then it became an attack on a Russian transport Ilyushin plane transporting prisoners; and then moved to drone attacks on Russian refineries and naval drone war on Crimea.

The process accelerated. And on the eve of last week's Russian elections, there was the attempt by purported dissidents to disrupt the elections by invading Russia in order to seize small towns and Russian civilians to hold as hostages. (It failed; Russia had prior knowledge of the plan).

The question the Euro-élites must be asking themselves now is: Has this Ukrainian asymmetric warfare effort spun out of Washington's and European control? Who is in charge, if anyone? It is unproven yet, but the fear haunting the West must be that either directly, or even very indirectly, it will emerge that they may find themselves complicit in mass terrorism -- sheltering under an ISIS-K franchise?

The implications: Huge.
Alastair Crooke Director of Conflicts Forum; Former Senior British Diplomat; Author.