NewsRussia's interrogation tactics could fuel extremism, experts warn

Russia's interrogation tactics could fuel extremism, experts warn

In such a condition, men suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack near Moscow were brought to court.
In such a condition, men suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack near Moscow were brought to court.
Images source: © East News | TATYANA MAKEYEVA
2:44 PM EDT, March 26, 2024

Photos showing men accused of planning an attack near Moscow being tortured could significantly undermine Russian efforts. "This will incite various extremists in Muslim regions of Russia. They will say: look how they treat followers of our faith," Lt. Col. Marcin Faliński, a former Intelligence Agency officer, told Wirtualna Polska.

A video shared on Telegram, supposedly during the interrogation of 25-year-old Shamsidin Fariduni, came with a sardonic note: "Fulfilling the suspect's right to one call, we provided him with a telephone." The footage displays him with his trousers down, on the gym floor, electric shocks being administered via cables connected to a military field phone.

Another horror-filled video documents the torture of 30-year-old Saidakram Rachabalizodar, who has a piece of his right ear cut off during interrogation and is then forced to consume it. He was presented in court with a large, blood-soaked bandage. Similarly, 32-year-old Dalerjon Mirzojew showed significant facial injuries and was seen with a portion of the blindfold used during his transport tied around his neck. Muhammadsobir Fayzov, a 19-year-old, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, unconscious and with an eye dreadfully protruding.

It's believed these distressing videos and photos were designed to reassure ordinary Russians of their service’s strength and efficacy by demonstrating the harsh treatment of the suspects – a clear indication of torture without a court verdict yet.

Russia potentially errs by potentially lionizing suspects

"Russia operates by different standards. The intent behind releasing these photos is to assure citizens, still shaken by the attack, that the state is capable and that terrorists face severe consequences immediately," Lt. Col. Marcin Faliński, a former Intelligence Agency officer, explained in an interview with WP. However, the same material could rally jihadists in the Caucasus, producing a starkly different outcome.

"Jihadist channels will likely circulate these images, sparking outrage among extremists in Muslim regions of Russia. This could also offer propaganda material for countries adversarial to Russia," Faliński added.

He argues that showcasing the suspects’ harsh treatment might backfire on the Kremlin. "I'd rather display suspects awaiting trial being able to calmly read the Quran. If not, they might soon be viewed as martyrs by Muslim radicals in Russia, challenging the widespread belief that the attack displays Russian strength. This might highlight vulnerabilities, especially given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Prolonged warfare could indeed incite further unrest in the Caucasus," Faliński concluded.

Following the display of torture, ISIS issued a new threat against Russia, promising retaliatory attacks. Iranian media disseminated a poster cautioning Russian President Vladimir Putin of imminent attacks as a protest against the torture of its members.

The origins of the attack

Russian outlets have suggested Ukrainian involvement in the attack on the concert hall near Moscow, based on the attackers’ attempt to flee towards Ukraine. This attack, the deadliest on Russian soil in two decades, resulted in at least 137 fatalities, with many victims still unaccounted for.

Dr. Wojciech Szewko, from the Center for Terrorism Studies at Collegium Civitas, insists the attack was purely an ISIS operation. He points to the style and political context, noting the long-standing hostility between Russian forces and ISIS in Syria and Libya. His detailed analysis, available on YouTube, delves into the political backdrop of the assault.

Confirmation of ISIS’s direct involvement comes from videos of the attack, filmed from the perspective of an attacker's camera. Independent Russian investigative journalists have also uncovered that the assault was initially planned for concerts by Russian artists Shaman or Grigory Leps but was postponed due to heightened security following a public warning from the US embassy.

The attackers bided their time, eventually selecting a different date to carry out their plan. Surveillance footage revealed Fariduni inquiring about the building's entrances, confirming his presence at the scene.

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