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UN says ISIS attack in Moscow must be ‘looked at separately’ from Oct. 7

Asked if ISIS grievances equated to Russians in the way U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres talked about a Hamas rationale for killing Israelis, a spokesperson said that was “a bit of an oversimplification.”

ISIS released a photo saying it shows some of the terrorist attackers at the concert hall in Moscow on March 22, 2024. Source: X/Amaq News Agency.
ISIS released a photo saying it shows some of the terrorist attackers at the concert hall in Moscow on March 22, 2024. Source: X/Amaq News Agency.

A U.N. spokesperson said that unlike the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, which the U.N.’s head controversially claimed “did not happen in a vacuum,” a terror attack by ISIS in Moscow last week needed to be “looked at separately.”

On Tuesday, JNS asked Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, about the parallel between the murder of 1,200 people by Hamas operatives on Jewish communities in southern Israel, which Guterres seemingly justified in late October, and the Islamic State’s deadly attack in Moscow on March 22.

Noting that both were indiscriminate attacks carried out against civilians by internationally designated terror groups under the guise of resistance against oppressive governments, JNS asked Haq whether Guterres felt that the Russia attack “happened inside or outside of a vacuum?”

Haq claimed that “these are separate incidents, and so they need to be looked at separately. But [Guterres’s] standpoint across the board is that actions don’t just erupt out of nowhere. And ultimately, if we want to deal with problems, we have to look at what was underlying how those problems came about. That would be the case across the board—in Russia, in Israel and everywhere.”

Asked if, therefore, grievance by ISIS operatives should be taken into account going forward in the way Guterres went through a laundry list of Palestinian grievances during his “vacuum” comments, Haq said that was “a bit of an oversimplification.”

“Ultimately, if you want to prevent problems from arising, you have to look at what contributes—whether it’s socioeconomic factors on the ground, whether it’s how people have been educated, how militants have come into their mindset,” said Haq. “This is something we talk about in various different reports, including the reports we deal with that come out from our counterterrorism office.”

Elsewhere, Switzerland refused to reinstate its annual $22 million in funding to UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which has been accused of extensive ties to Gaza-based terror groups.

Despite an in-person plea from the UNRWA’s Swiss-born commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, Switzerland’s Foreign Policy Commission announced on Tuesday afternoon that it was holding off restoring its fiscal support.

“We have decided to listen to other voices or the other side,” said Swiss People’s Party National Councilor Franz Grüter,” with an additional hearing to be held in late April.

Lazzarini was criticized by multiple parties for his testimony on Monday, with Grüter saying that “from my point of view, it was a missed opportunity. His statements did not contribute significantly to clarifying the numerous allegations.”

National Councilor Hans-Peter Portmann of the Free Democratic Party said Lazzarini’s testimony lacked self-criticism, with Lazzarini refusing to explicitly acknowledge that UNRWA cooperates in any respect with Hamas, even as many of the agency’s supporters say it is impossible not to have some level of cooperation with Gaza’s de facto governing authority.

“Personally, I am convinced that humanitarian aid can only be provided again in the Gaza Strip once Hamas has surrendered,” said Portmann. Until that time, he said Switzerland can assist with the air-dropping of supplies.

Center National Councilor Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter said Lazzarini “could not credibly refute that the Swiss funds for UNRWA might end up in terrorist hands.”

At the same time, European People’s Party National Councilor Nik Gugger noted, “I very much regret that Mr. Lazzarini has not been able to show me how he wants the funds to be used sustainably for the most vulnerable. I wish he had addressed the sensitivities of politicians and ultimately, the population, more clearly.”

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