Deadly Attack In Russia Brings Islamic Terrorism to the Fore 

Happy Wednesday! Inflation has hit many Americans where it hurts, driving up prices for everything from fuel to housing. To add insult to injury, cocoa prices are reaching record highs—up 138 percent so far this year—and chocolate companies are now considering price hikes. Everyone stock up on your chocolate bunnies now.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • A Russian court on Tuesday extended the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for the fifth time, ruling that he would spend another three months in pretrial detention. Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg, Russia, almost a year ago and has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison on espionage charges, which both he and the U.S. government unequivocally deny. The State Department has designated him “wrongfully detained” and demanded his immediate release.
  • British judges ruled Tuesday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States until the U.S. government has provided assurances regarding the protection of his First Amendment rights and a guarantee that he will not receive the death penalty—though none of the espionage charges he faces in the U.S. for sharing classified information in 2010 and 2011 carry the sentence. The ruling delays his extradition—first approved in 2022—and gives the U.S. three weeks to comply with the request from the panel of judges. In the absence of a reply from the U.S., Assange may appeal his extradition.
  • The Coast Guard announced Tuesday evening it was ending its search-and-rescue operation to retrieve the six members of an eight-person construction crew still missing after the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, collapsed early Tuesday morning. Based on the water temperatures when they would have fallen into the Patapsco River and the time elapsed since, the six are presumed dead. One member of the crew survived the collapse unharmed and another is currently hospitalized. The Port of Baltimore has paused vessel traffic, and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said yesterday that there is no timeline for bringing shipping back online. The port is one of the largest in the country, and President Joe Biden said in remarks Tuesday that he wants “to move heaven and earth to reopen [it] and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” with the federal government financing the reconstruction. Moore told reporters yesterday the ship that hit one of the bridge’s columns had lost power and issued an emergency call for help moments before the collision.
  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a case regarding the ease of access to the abortion drug mifepristone. The majority of the justices questioned whether the doctors bringing the case challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to expand access to the drug in 2016 had sufficient legal grounds to do so. A decision in the case is expected this summer.
  • The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s New York criminal hush-money case on Tuesday imposed a gag order on Trump. The measure—sought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in February—is the third such restriction on the former president across three separate legal cases. New York Judge Juan Merchan barred Trump from “making or directing others to make public statements” about witnesses in the case, the lawyers and staff involved in the case—with the exception of Bragg—or their families. The trial is currently scheduled to begin on April 15.
  • In a court filing Tuesday, failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake chose not to contest allegations that she defamed Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer when she accused him of committing election fraud during the state’s 2022 elections. She had failed to file a response to Richer’s June lawsuit, which accused her of baselessly claiming Richer stuffed ballot boxes with fake ballots and intentionally made the ballot confusing for voters in an effort to “rig” the election. Lake has asked the court to convene a jury to decide the damages she owes Richer in the case. 
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced on Tuesday in a speech in Oakland, California, that Nicole Shanahan, a wealthy California lawyer and philanthropist, will serve as his running mate in his independent bid for president. Shanahan—married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin until last year—has donated millions to the super PAC supporting Kennedy’s campaign.

Terror Strikes Moscow

The burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 22, 2024. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
The burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 22, 2024. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

On Friday night, just before 8 p.m. local time, some 6,000 Muscovites were getting ready to enjoy a sold-out rock concert at the mostly full Crocus City Hall venue in a northern suburb of Russia’s capital.

People were still milling about, moving to their seats when there was a repeated popping sound. At least four gunmen entered the sprawling complex killing anyone they encountered, including shooting some at point-blank range. When the shooters entered the auditorium, they sprayed automatic gunfire at the red seats from which people were fleeing. Then, the attackers set the venue on fire. By 8:30 p.m., a half-hour after the band Picnic was supposed to have taken the stage, thick black smoke was billowing from the complex, now engulfed in flames. It wasn’t long before the roof collapsed, by which point the attackers had already fled.

The terrorists killed at least 139 people and injured more than 100 others, many of whom are still in critical condition. The attack—for which Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K, quickly claimed responsibility—was the worst in Russia in almost two decades. Though the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was largely defeated on the battlefield in 2019 after its rise in 2014 and 2015, its operations continue on multiple continents, and Friday’s events have turned the world’s attention back to the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. In an era where political and foreign policy priorities are firmly oriented toward great power competition—including, for the West, countering Russia’s revanchist and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine—analysts warn the Moscow attack could be a harbinger of more to come. 

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