Putin’s Shocking Wake-Up Call: Why Islamist Terrorism Poses a Greater Threat than the West!

Russian President may have convinced himself that Russia's main adversary lies in the West. However, the recent deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall by an offshoot of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) demonstrates that Islamist terrorists pose a far more significant threat to his country's well-being.

Putin (Image source: Twitter)

The has a lengthy and violent history of combatting Islamist extremism, from Russia's harsh military campaign in Chechnya – which marked Putin's first war as president – to Moscow's more recent involvement in Syria, where contributed to the elimination of ISIL's self-declared caliphate in Raqqa.

It's important to recall that Putin's primary justification for deploying Russian forces to Syria in 2015 was to target Islamist militants who had seized control of significant portions of the country. Even if his main motivation was to support the Assad regime, longstanding allies of Moscow, and keep them in power.

During a speech to the General Assembly in September 2015, Putin passionately called for an international coalition to combat global terrorism, likening the effort to defeat ISIL to the allied campaign against the Nazis during World War II.

Presently, Putin has shifted to an entirely different approach, prioritizing confrontation with the West over tackling Islamist extremism. Many of the Russian forces previously engaged in Syria against ISIL are now embroiled in a fierce conflict in Ukraine.

Following the devastating attack on Moscow's Crocus City concert hall, where at least 115 people were killed by a group of Islamist terrorists, Putin may reconsider his military focus on Ukraine, realizing he might be fighting the wrong war.

Since the destruction of ISIL's caliphate in Syria in 2017, there has been a concerning trend, both in Moscow and the West, to underestimate the threat posed by Islamist militants.

This mindset influenced the 's ill-fated decision to withdraw US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, ultimately handing control of the country to the Taliban, ideological counterparts of ISIL. Putin even publicly supported this decision, a stance he may regret given reports that the group responsible for the concert hall attack was based in Afghanistan, operating under Taliban protection.

While some world leaders view the Taliban regime in Kabul as relatively benign, Western intelligence agencies believe Afghanistan has once again become a haven for Islamist terror networks. Moreover, the 2021 withdrawal resulted in the collapse of the West's intelligence-gathering capabilities in Afghanistan, weakening our ability to counter the Islamist threat.

This erosion of intelligence capabilities comes at a time when terrorist organizations like Hamas, which shares the same Islamist ideology as the Taliban, are enhancing their capacity to carry out large-scale operations. The tactics used in the Moscow attack closely resemble those employed by Hamas in assaults on Israeli civilians.

In light of these circumstances, Putin would be wise to redirect his focus from escalating confrontation with the West to supporting an international effort against the modern menace of Islamist-inspired terrorism. A productive starting point could be the UN, where Moscow could concentrate its efforts on addressing the alarming rise of Islamist terrorism, potentially proving more effective at safeguarding Russian citizens than persisting in an unwinnable war in Ukraine.

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