4 Suspects in Deadly Concert Hall Attack Appear Bloodied in Russian Court

Three of the four men charged have pleaded guilty in the deadly attack, which was later claimed by the Islamic State.Published Mar. 24, 2024 11:56PM EDT Tatyana Makeyeva/AFP via Getty ImagesFour men were charged on Sunday with committing the deadliest attack on Russian soil in two decades, accused of storming a Moscow concert hall on Friday evening and

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Three of the four men charged have pleaded guilty in the deadly attack, which was later claimed by the Islamic State.

AJ McDougall

A man suspected of taking part in the attack of a concert hall that killed 137 people, the deadliest attack in Europe to have been claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group

Tatyana Makeyeva/AFP via Getty Images

Four men were charged on Sunday with committing the deadliest attack on Russian soil in two decades, accused of storming a Moscow concert hall on Friday evening and spraying the panicked crowd with gunfire, while later setting the building ablaze.

As the men appeared in court to be arraigned, the death toll rose to 137, including three children, with 182 more people injured. The suspects, identified as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, 32; Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, 30; Shamsidin Fariduni, 25; and Mukhammadsobir Faizov, 19, are all believed to be citizens of the ex-Soviet republic of Tajikistan.

The Basmanny District Court formally charged the men with committing a group terrorist attack resulting in the death of others. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The court ordered the men be held in pretrial detention for at least two months as an investigation into the attack continues.

Mirzoyev and Rachabalizoda both pleaded guilty after being charged, according to a statement by the court, which did not include the pleas of the other two suspects. There were conflicting reports by other Russian media outlets, however, that Fariduni also pleaded guilty. The fourth suspect, 19-year-old Faizov, was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair, wearing a hospital gown and accompanied by doctors, according to images shared by Russian media outlets.

All four of the men were bloodied and bore visible injuries, suggesting they had been tortured. Faizov appeared to be missing an eye, according to Reuters. Rachabalizoda’s head was swathed in bandages, with The New York Times reporting that a video of interrogators slicing off a part of his ear and stuffing it into his mouth had spread online.

President Vladimir Putin declared it a national day of mourning, ordering flags be lowered to half-mast and vowing revenge against those behind the “bloody, barbaric terrorist act.” The attack comes just over a week after he secured his fifth presidential term, an embarrassment for a politician who has long portrayed himself as a strongman.

​​“All perpetrators, organizers and commissioners of this crime will receive a just and inevitable punishment,” Putin said. “No matter who they are, no matter who directed them, I repeat, we will identify and punish everyone who stood behind the terrorists.”

Mourners gathered outside the Crocus City Hall in Moscow’s northern suburb of Krasnogorsk to lay flowers at the burnt-out site. Across Russia, billboards appeared bearing an image of a candle, the date of the attack, and the phrase “we mourn,” according to Reuters.

Despite the Islamic State having claimed the assault, Putin did not mention the jihad group in his address, and said the suspects had been arrested while fleeing to the Ukrainian border, where a crossing had been prepared for them by “the Ukrainian side.” Kyiv has denied any involvement, with U.S. intelligence officials confirming that the Islamic State bore “sole responsibility for this attack.”

Authorities have detained a total of 11 people in connection with the plot, according to Putin. Russian media broadcast videos of their interrogation, capturing one suspect explaining that he’d been approached by an Islamic preacher’s assistant and paid to take part in the attack, according to the Associated Press.

The attack was carried out by four gunmen in camouflage who entered the Crocus City Hall complex as crowds were still filing in to attend a packed-out concert by the Russian rock band Picnic. Roughly 6,500 tickets had been sold for the show, according to Russian media reports.

“We are deeply shocked by this terrible tragedy and mourn with you,” Picnic said in a social media statement, according to the Times. The band was unharmed, but at least one of its longtime employees—the woman who ran their merchandise stalls—was still missing on Sunday, the group said, adding that it had not yet given up hope.

The gunmen opened fire at random, then “threw a grenade or an incendiary bomb, which started a fire,” according to Russian media. Flames eventually engulfed the complex, its roof partially collapsing. A SWAT team responded to the scene, as well as more than 70 ambulances.

The Russian Investigative Committee said that, amid its ongoing investigation at the crime scene, it had discovered two Kalashnikov assault rifles, 28 magazines, and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.

With the search for survivors among the charred rubble of the music venue suspended on Saturday, the process of identifying the scores of victims began.

The Russian Investigative Committee said that 62 bodies had been identified so far and that, “for the remaining victims, genetic examinations are being carried out to establish their identities,” according to CNN.

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