The four suspects arrested in the Crocus City Hall terror attack (Tass photo)

Two Moscow Attack Suspects Travelled ‘Freely’ between Russia and Turkey

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MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian authorities detained 11 people on March 26 in connection with the March 22  attack, which saw camouflaged gunmen storm into Crocus City Hall, open fire on concert-goers and set the building ablaze, killing at least 139 people.

Two of those, Tajik nationals Rachabalizoda Saidakrami and Shamsidin Fariduni, “were able to travel freely between Russia and Turkey since there was no warrant for their arrest”, the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The two had both spent time in Turkey shortly before the attack and entered Russia together on the same flight from Istanbul, the official said.

The Islamic State group has said they were responsible for the Moscow attack, and IS-affiliated media channels have published graphic videos of the gunmen inside the venue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday acknowledged for the first time that “radical Islamists” were behind last week’s attack at the concert hall, but suggested they were linked to Ukraine.

Turkish authorities, meanwhile, have rounded up scores of suspects with alleged links to IS extremists in nationwide raids, a government minister said Tuesday.

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During simultaneous raids carried out in 30 cities across the country, 147 suspects were detained, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on social media.

Turkish authorities established that one suspect, Fariduni, entered Turkey on February 20 and returned to Russia via Istanbul airport on March 2.

The suspect checked into a hotel in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih neighborhood on February 21 and checked out six days later.

During his initial questioning, he admitted to have travelled to Turkey because his visa in Russia had expired, according to the Turkish official.

Fariduni posted eight times on his social media account on February 23, with the location set as “Aksaray Istanbul”, and the pictures apparently showing the Fatih Mosque, the official said.

The other suspect, Saidakrami, arrived in Istanbul on January 5. He checked into a hotel in Fatih the same day and checked out on January 21.

Topics: Terrorism

He then returned to Moscow on March 2 on the same flight as Fariduni, according to the Turkish official.

“We assess that both individuals became radicalised in Russia given the short amount of time they spent in Turkey,” he told AFP.

The official said Turkey would continue to fight all terror groups including IS, “without interruption.”

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