After Terrorists Kill 130, Russian Evangelicals Resist Revenge

As Moscow and Kyiv trade insinuations over concert hall killing claimed by ISIS affiliate, Christian leaders focus on compassion and forgiveness instead of blame.

Russian evangelicals used Sunday sermons to condemn a terrorist attack that killed more than 130 people at a Moscow concert hall.

As Russia’s Baptist union prayed for “God’s mercy and protection,” its Pentecostal union conveyed its “bitterness and sorrow.” Vitaly Vlasenko, general secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance, called it a “painful shock” that could unleash “unbridled revenge” against terrorism.

But many in Russia are wondering: Who are the terrorists?

The attack on Friday that killed at least 137 people at the 6,200-seat Crocus City Hall was claimed by the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), which seeks an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia. Its statement emphasized it was targeting Christians and came in the “natural framework” of its war against the enemies of Islam.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Moscow had issued a warning to avoid large gatherings. American officials stated they shared their intelligence with Russia. On March 7, Russia said it thwarted an attack on a synagogue, and a few days prior, security services killed six ISIS-K terrorists during a shootout in the nation’s Muslim Caucasus region.

The group was also linked to the 2017 St. Petersburg metro bombing that killed 15.

ISIS-K was formed by extremists seeking a more violent path than the Pakistani Taliban in 2015, the same year Russia formally intervened in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad. A Sunni group, ISIS and its affiliates oppose Assad’s Alawite faith as heretical and considers Shiite Muslims as apostate.

In January, ISIS-K killed 95 Iranians in Tehran at a memorial service for Qasem Soleimani, leader of the …

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