10.05.2024 Author: Yuriy Zinin

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack: Challenges for Arabs, Artificial Intelligence

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

‘The Horrifying Attack at the Crocus’ …. ‘Questions and Doubts’. ‘Crime in Moscow Region Threatens Global Dangers’. These and similar headlines in the media reflect the reaction in the Middle East region to the crime at the Crocus City Hall.

For observers, experts and social media users, the raid on the concert hall became a reason to increase attention to the study of the roots and methods of action of terrorism, its various organizations and branches.

The possibility of transferring its new threats to Arab countries is a dangerous indicator, and the security services are on the alert in this regard, says the Saudi Islamic scholar. But in his view, the media are often complacent, giving credence to the thesis that terrorism has been defeated.

Underestimating the devastating impact of extremism and hatred in society

is a concern for observers and politicians, especially in the Gulf States.

The authors recall the basic aspects of these movements. The main thing that unites their adherents is the claim to represent the whole religion. Islamists dress up in its clothes to cover their credo of seizing power through violence.

According to them, they prioritize the fight against ‘apostates and hypocrites’ at various levels of society, including at the top. After eliminating the ‘near enemy’ they promise a ‘march against Israel, for the liberation of Palestine.’ Today, the Islamic State* and others like it swear through their communications to defend Islam and Muslims from the current Crusaders, the ‘West’, and the Jews.

But social media in the Arab region reasonably remarked: “Is it a coincidence when we see IS* fighting on the lands of countries and organizations hostile to the US? Are there these people in Gaza and what are they doing in Moscow?” According to users of electronic networks, some inconsiderate Muslims “are easily recruited in exchange for promises of money, or by inciting them against Russia’s policy in Syria.”

According to experts, extremist ideology, whatever it may be, may weaken but not die. The war against it is a long one, requiring competence, great effort and patience. There are calls from the authors to revise and monitor religious discourse in school curricula, on social media platforms, and across screens.

It is necessary to put a barrier to the penetration of extremist ideas into classrooms, etc., which discreetly encourage young people to embrace destructive radical ideas.

Islamist henchmen of all stripes are calculating and sophisticated in their rhetoric and deeds. The IS* demonstrates flexibility, both tactically and operationally, adaptability, and is active in the field of the latest communications, scientific and technological advances.

The Middle East Center for Political and Strategic Advice in Kuwait indicates in its report that the leaders and adherents of the organizations are resorting to artificial intelligence technology to recruit personnel and spread their ideology. They can identify those who sympathize with their views using algorithms based on this technique. This speeds up the processing of large amounts of data in favor of the vicious objectives at hand.

The rise of discriminatory hate speech on the Internet, says the Center, is being fueled by a rise in general popular discontent in some societies due to various factors such as declining living standards and increasing social inequalities, casteism, tribalism and bullying. Those who are subjected to such abuses are more likely to collaborate with terrorist groups to launch physical or cyber attacks on vital targets.

Experts, analyzing the raid in the Moscow Region, do not pass by such a phenomenon as Islamophobia. They state that the crime plays into the hands of those who in various countries stand behind and sponsor this phenomenon.

In particular, the Moroccan community in Europe fears that the extreme right will benefit from the ‘attack near Moscow’ and use it to intensify attacks against Islam and immigrants on the path of Islamophobia. Its apologists, speculating on the facts of violations and crimes of a bunch of elements, indiscriminately attribute to Islam such extremes as intolerance, propensity for cruelty, etc.

According to a number of researchers and authors, behind this vector is the desire to stem the tide of sympathy for the Palestinians that has emerged in different parts of the world against the backdrop of civilian suffering during the Gaza conflict and the actions of the Israeli military machine.

Today, the picture of the balance of power, hierarchy of government and elites in the Arab world is ambiguous and confusing. The escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after the outbreak of violence in Gaza on October 7, 2023, the activity of various non-governmental armed groups in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the latest exchange of strikes between Israel and Iran are fraught with the possibility of intensifying religious and sectarian confrontation.

This fuels people’s alienation and the growing polarization of forces in the political space. In such an atmosphere, various opportunistic alliances of opposing forces emerge, unprincipled deals between them open up space for the actions of factions, including under the mask of Islam.

Moreover, the extremist forces are not giving up on revenge, there is a generational shift in their camp…

At the same time, new recruits from among refugees, displaced persons and people of different nationalities from neighboring areas, including Central Asia and the Caucasus, deceived by promises, are increasingly being drawn into the vortex of conflicts in the Middle East. Regional and international actors use them as obedient pawns in the implementation of their schemes and plans.

This allows IS* and others like it to maneuver in the maelstrom of political storms and upheavals in the region, to mimic and remain a beneficiary of existing contradictions and conflicts. All this puts barriers in the way of collective resistance to extremist movements and currents in the region.

Summarizing the situation in the light of the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack, the Saudi researcher and media figure stresses the need for objective analysis and balanced approaches to the events. The brutality of Israeli actions in Gaza should not obscure from Arabs the danger of extremist and takfiri groups (‘fighters against godlessness’) in the region, their obsession with sacrificing the security and stability of the homeland for their reckless political projects.


* The IS, Islamic State, is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.


Yuri Zinin, senior researcher at the Center for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

Related articles: