An image released by ISIS displaying its harrowing black flag and a jihadist fighter armed with a rifle is a clear threat to an attack on the 2018 World Cup, slated to take place in Russia.
The threat comes on the heels of a massive defeat of the terror group in Raqqa, Syria, earlier today.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be played across 11 cities in Russia from 14 June to 15 July, when the final will be played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Russia has been actively backing Syrian national forces in its attempt to defeat ISIS, which has made the nation a target of the terror group. According to Ian Brzezinski, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, terrorism might be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s greatest threat.
“Despite his government’s defence doctrines stating that the U.S. and NATO is Russia’s greatest threat,” Brzezinski says, “I have always felt that Putin regards Islamic extremism to be the most immediate threat.”
Putin’s actions against Chechens make him even more an enemy of Islamic terrorism, according to Brzezinski. “Putin cut his teeth destroying the Chechens,” he says. “He regarded their rebellion as a manifestation of Islamic extremism. He also bolstered his own personal popularity in Russia by demonizing the Chechens as Islamic terrorists and by brutally crushing them.”