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US Embassy Warns of Immediate Threat of Terrorist Attack in Russia

It came after Russian officials said they prevented an ISIS terror plot at a synagogue.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia issued a warning that an “imminent” terrorist attack will occur in Moscow, coming hours after Russian officials said they prevented a terror plot at a synagogue in the city.

“The Embassy is monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, and U.S. citizens should be advised to avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours,” the embassy said on its website on Friday.

Americans in Russia were told to avoid crowds, monitor local media, and be aware of their surroundings, according to the statement. Other details were not provided.

Russian security officials said that it prevented an ISIS cell operating in a Russian region from carrying out an attack on a synagogue targeting Jewish worshippers in Moscow, reported state-run TASS News. Those reports said that it was part of the Afghan wing of the group, known as ISIS-Khorasan.

It was unclear if the two statements from the embassy and Russian officials were linked.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), a successor to the Soviet KGB, said that they were “preparing to attack the congregants of a synagogue using firearms,” according to state-backed media, adding that members of the terrorist group fought back and were “neutralized” by the security service.

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Firearms, ammunition, as well as components to manufacture an improvised explosive device were found and seized, it added, according to TASS.

Footage circulated by Zvezda News, which is run by Russia’s Ministry of Defense, that was posted on social media sites showed apparent FSB officials searching a house. The footage showed the bodies of two men, weapons, and ammunition.

ISIS-Khorasan has said it seeks a caliphate across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran. The group first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014 and established a reputation for brutality, sometimes fighting against the Taliban, who now control the country after the United States withdrew its forces in August 2021 amid widespread criticism.

On Thursday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense issued a warning to U.S. Embassy diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador to Russia, that it is targeting three American nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. Any diplomat who is found to be associated with the NGOs, it said, will be forced to depart the country, the ministry said.

The ministry said it had summoned U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy to inform her of the decision, adding those NGOs will be banned soon for carrying out “anti-Russian programs and projects aimed at recruiting ‘agents of influence’ under the guise of educational and cultural exchanges,” state media reported.

The warning was issued about a week before the Russian presidential election, where longtime President Vladimir Putin is expected to be reelected.

In response, the U.S. Embassy said Thursday that the move was a “tragic illustration of the Kremlin’s desire to isolate its own people, depriving them of the chance to network, expand their horizons, and contribute to building a more prosperous and peaceful world.”

“For more than 70 years, the Department of State has offered opportunities for Russians citizens—as we do for citizens around the world—to visit, study, and learn about our country,” it added. “These programs also provide an opportunity for Americans to learn about Russian culture. The United States remains steadfast in our desire to maintain bridges between the people of our two countries, which have endured even through the darkest times of the Cold War.”

Russia’s statement comes as tensions between Washington and Moscow remain high amid the two-year-long Russia-Ukraine conflict. After Russia invaded the country, U.S. and NATO allies have provided billions of dollars in military equipment and other aid to the government in Kyiv, while multiple European countries have since opted to join NATO.

Also Thursday, a top-level Russian military official warned that the conflict could erupt into a full-scale European war and that Moscow’s forces are likely to get involved.

Colonel-General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, head of the Russian army’s Military Academy of the General Staff, made the comments in an article for a Russian defense ministry publication, state-run RIA news agency reported on Thursday.

“The possibility of an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine—from the expansion of participants in ‘proxy forces’ used for military confrontation with Russia to a large-scale war in Europe—cannot be ruled out,” Reuters reported.

“The main source of military threats to our state is the anti-Russian policy of the United States and its allies, who are conducting a new type of hybrid warfare in order to weaken Russia in every possible way, limit its sovereignty and destroy its territorial integrity,” he was quoted as saying. “The likelihood of our state being purposefully drawn into new military conflicts is significantly increasing.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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