Boston Bombing: The Chechen Connection
A lot of confusion out there still, with news reports all over the place. According to MSNBC, the religion of the bombers may have played less of a role in the affair than a Ben Affleck movie:
Making the point that the Tsarnaev brothers’ Muslim faith at the moment bears little relevance to the investigation into the brothers’ decision to attack the Boston Marathon last week, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry observed that Tsarnaev’s faith is about as relevant to the investigation right now as are Ben Affleck movies about violent events in Boston. Her panel guests agreed and added that Americans have to “otherize” violent actors in order to absolve themselves from responsibility for or connection to their violence. […]
“I keep wondering: is it possible that there would ever be a discussion like, ‘oh, this is because of Ben Affleck and the connection between Boston and movies about violence?’” Harris-Perry asked. “And, of course, the answer is ‘no.’”
“Given that they’re Chechen, given that they are literally Caucasian, our very sense of connection to them is this framed up notion of, like, Islam making them into something that is non-[unintelligible],” Harris-Perry continued.
Yeah, I don’t know anyone buying into that specific theory, but whatever. The reality is that we have no idea yet, but there are certainly some nuggets of info that are being ignored by Ms Perry. According to The Washington Times:
The FBI and intelligence agencies are investigating how the Tsarnaevs became radicalized to the point where they placed two pressure cooker improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on Boylston Street near the finish line of the iconic race.
Tamerlan, 26, had a YouTube account that featured clips on terrorism and radical Islamic leaders, such as Feiz Mohammed, a cleric in Australia. His 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, maintained a Russian social media page that paid homage to radical Muslims.
A pressure cooker bomb is a calling card of Islamist militants. Constructed as anti-personnel IEDs intended to maim as many as possible, they have turned up wherever Islamist terrorists are active Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, North Africa and South Asia.
CBS and a local NBC affiliate both looked into the Russian trip last year, and came away with different views….
Neighbors told CBS News on the phone that Tamerlan Tsarnaev stayed with his father or family members the whole six months he was in Russia in 2012, helping his father renovate the family business. Members of the local mosque said they recall seeing Tamerlan pray there, but there was nothing suspect about his time there.
Even today, the leader of a prominent Chechen rebel group came out and said they did not have any involvement in the attacks. So clearly, there are many questions left about what drove this man to commit this act.
A police official source in Makhachkala, Dagestan, told NBC News on Sunday that the Russian internal security service reached out to the FBI last November with some questions about Tamerlan, and handed over a copy of case file on him.
Tsarnaev had first popped up on the local police radar in Dagestan last summer, the source said. During routine surveillance of an individual known to be involved in the militant Islamic underground movement, the police witnessed Tamerlan meet the latter at a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala, the police official said.
It was one of six times in total that surveillance officials witnessed Tsarnaev meeting this militant at the same mosque, according to the police official.
The militant contact later disappeared, the police official said, but so did Tsarnaev before investigators had a chance to speak with him. The FBI never responded, according to the Dagestani police official.
So, for now I guess we wait for more info. Police seem to be certain that this was only a 2 man operation, but that might only be their public statement while they pursue other information. In the meantime we get a steady diet of odd stories about the bombers like this one:
Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of his local mosque for 'crazy' behavior after getting involved a 'shouting match' with his imam according to one member of the congregation.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was ejected from his Boston mosque for aggressive behavior after insulting Martin Luther King Jr. during a Friday prayer service three months ago
Described as being full of rage by a worshiper who would give his name only as Muhammad, Tamerlan was ejected from the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center three months ago for claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a man Muslims should look to emulate.
This revelation comes as Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of Tamerlan, claimed that his nephew had fallen under the spell of a mysterious religious leader in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who radicalized him and his brother Dzhokhar into committing Monday's terror outrage.
So, for now, we wait. And, as a native Massachusian, my daily prayers are still with the people dealing with this and the ramifications that include not just death and dismemberment, but likely a lasting psychological component.