Iran ‘warned Russia about terror threat’ before Crocus City massacre

A security officer with a semi-automatic rifle stands in front of the burning concert hall on March 22 this year
The attack on Moscow's Crocus City concert hall left 144 dead - Evgeniy Razumniy/Alamy

Iran warned Russia of a possible major terrorist attack on its soil before the Crocus City Hall massacre near Moscow last month, it has been reported.

The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group claimed responsibility for the March 22 atrocity, in which 144 people were killed.

Russia, which has arrested at least eight suspects, including the four suspected gunmen, has accused Ukraine, the US and Britain of orchestrating the attack.

Three sources said Iran tipped off Russia in advance with intelligence obtained from IS suspects, Reuters reported on Monday.

One said: “Days before the attack in Russia, Tehran shared information with Moscow about a possible big terrorist attack inside Russia that was acquired during interrogations of those arrested in connection with deadly bombings in Iran.”

Iran arrested 35 people in January, including a commander of IS’s Afghanistan-based branch Isis-Khorasan, or Isis-K, who it said were linked to twin bombings in the city of Kerman on Jan 3, in which almost 100 people were killed.

A second source, who also requested anonymity, said the information Tehran provided to Moscow about an impending attack had lacked specific details regarding timing and the exact target.

“They [the members of Isis-K] were instructed to prepare for a significant operation in Russia... One of the terrorists [arrested in Iran] said some members of the group had already travelled to Russia,” said the source.

A third source, a senior security official, said: “As Iran has been a victim of terror attacks for years, Iranian authorities fulfilled their obligation to alert Moscow based on information acquired from those arrested terrorists.”

The warning echoed a similar one from the US, which publicly warned of a possible terrorist attack in Moscow two weeks beforehand and said it had shared its intelligence with Russia.

IS claimed responsibility for the Crocus City massacre via its official Amaq news agency. The US has also attributed the attack to Isis.

Vladimir Putin and his top security advisers have acknowledged radical Islamists were involved, but have also claimed that Ukraine and the West organised it.

Asked about the Reuters report, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said on Monday: “I do not know anything about this.”

Russia’s Federal Security Service said on Monday it had arrested four more people in the Dagestan region who “were directly involved in the financing and supply of terrorist means to the perpetrators” of the attack.

The four, all foreign citizens, were arrested in Makhachkala and the nearby town of Kaspiysk on Sunday. A video released by Russian security agency the FSB showed one of the detained men saying: “I took weapons to them, these guys who attacked Crocus City Hall. I took them weapons from Makhachkala.”