By Ryan Mauro (@RyanMauro)
The name of Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov may soon become a household name. In The Third Jihad, former CIA intelligence officer Wayne Simmons warned that the 2004 school massacre in Beslan, Russia by Chechen terrorists is “a perfect example of exactly what will take place in this country.” That prediction was fulfilled with the bombings in Boston.
The Boston bombers were 26-year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his 19-year old brother, Dzhokhar. Three other college-aged individuals were questioned and released during the manhunt for Dzhokhar. The brothers are originally from Chechnya but left in the early 1990s because of war with Russia. They and their family moved to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan before moving to the U.S.
Tamerlan was a self-described “very religious” Muslim who didn’t drink or even take his shirt off with females around. A graphic photo of his corpse has leaked online. He has been described as intense and intimidating. A cousin said he “was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. He hurt her a few times. He was not a nice man. I don’t like to speak about him. He caused problems for my family.”
A timeline of his radicalization is emerging that indicates an intelligence failure permitted him to carry out the bombings.
He started becoming more religious about five years ago. “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them,” Tamerlan said in 2009. He complained that “there are no values anymore” and “people can’t control themselves.” A lack of assimilation and hostility towards Western society is a common feature of the radicalized. In 2004, a former CIA case officer studied a database of Al-Qaeda terrorists and found that 80% “were, in some way, totally excluded from the society they lived in.”
In 2009, he was arrested and possibly convicted for domestic abuse towards his girlfriend. He was a legal resident at the time and was not deported. In 2011, the FBI interviewed him about possible extremist ties due to a tip from a foreign country, presumably Russia. Family members claim that they and Tamerlan were interviewed by the FBI over a period of three to five years. The file on him was closed.
He was able to fly out of New York on January 12, 2012 for a six-month trip to Russia. It is speculated that he learned how to create the detonator for the bombs during this time period. He may have been visiting his father, who was living in Russia since 2009, but a six-month trip seems very odd for someone with a wife and child. He was able to return to the U.S. on July 17, 2012.
He created a YouTube channel shortly after he returned on August 17, 2012. He “likes” a video titled “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags from Khorasan.” It teaches that the enemies of Islam will suffer a decisive defeat during the End Times at Khorasan, a region including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
He also “likes” two videos by Australian Islamist cleric Sheikh Feiz Mohammad, one of which is about Harry Potter. The cleric was shown in The Third Jihad preaching, “The peak, the pinnacle, the crest, the highest point, the pivot, the summit of Islam is jihad.”
Dzokhar is described in opposite terms, as a likeable and extremely nice person. He was social and frequently smoked marijuana. The aforementioned cousin says he was “never an extremist.” He was granted asylum by the U.S. in 2002 when he was only eight years old and lived here since. He was given citizenship on the jaw-dropping date of September 11, 2012.
Professor Brian Glyn Williams teaches the only course in the country about the Chechen wars and said Dzokhar emailed him questions in the spring of 2011. Another teacher told him that he was “in the process of vicariously rediscovering his Chechen origins.” His profile on a Russian social-networking website shows he was posting clips of Islamic fighters in Syria.
Their father and aunt may have set the stage for their radicalization. When the manhunt for Dzokhar began, he called on him to surrender but if he is killed, it’ll be proof that it was a set-up by the U.S. government “all hell would break loose.” The aunt likewise suggested “this was staged.”
Years of anti-American propaganda from the Russian government may also have played a role. The pro-Russia president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyron, reacted to the identity of the suspects by blaming the bombings on American culture. He seemed to question whether they are guilty and seemed to suggest that the killing of Tamerlan was inappropriate, saying, “Apparently, the security services needed to calm down the society by any means necessary.”
The question of whether foreign terrorist groups were involved looms. Former Iranian Revolutionary Guardsman and CIA spy “Reza Kahlili” was told by a source in Iranian intelligence informed him that Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Al-Quds Force was involved. The source told him the trail would lead to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The brothers’ Chechen origin and Tamerlan’s six-month trip to Russia strongly suggests a connection to Chechen Islamists. The top suspect should be the Islamic Caucus Emirate group that is tied to Al-Qaeda. It is led by Doku Umarov, a terrorist known as “Russia’s Bin Laden” with a $5 million reward on his head from the U.S. State Department.
Umarov’s group is best known for the massacre of nearly 400 people and hostage-taking of 1,000 at a school in Beslan, Russia in 2004. It has carried out many other attacks in Russia including a November 2009 train bombing killing 28; suicide bombings in a Moscow subway by female operatives in March 2010 killing 40 and an airport bombing in January 2011 that killed 36.
The Chechen Islamist rebels may claim their cause is independence from Russia but it is part of a larger goal. When Osama Bin Laden set up a training camp in Chechnya in 1995, he wanted to “establish a worldwide Islamic state capable of directly challenging the U.S., China, Russia, and what it views as Judeo-Christian and Confucian domination.”
Umarov and other Islamic Caucus Emirate terrorists are openly hostile to the U.S. In 2007, he declared a “Caucus Emirate.” The announcement also expressed support for Muslims fighting the West in Palestine, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Umarov’s group also supports establishing Sharia Law. He was able to unite Chechen jihadists under his command in July 2011 when a Sharia court ordered rival commanders to submit to his leadership and they complied.
The question remains why the Tsarnaev brothers, and possibly the Islamic Caucus Emirate, targeted the U.S. If their main concern is Chechen independence, then their primary target would be Russia. In February 2012, Umarov forbade the targeting of Russian civilians because the population had protested Putin. However, attacks on Russian government and military sites are still permitted.
The contradictions in the Tsarnaev brothers’ behavior remain puzzling. Tamerlan felt Americans were immoral but he was a fan of Borat and his brother quoted rap lyrics on Twitter. Tamerlan quit smoking and drinking as he became more devout, but Dzhokhar quoted rap lyrics and was known as a drinker and pothead.
They obviously pre-planned the Boston bombings, but they didn’t stock up on cash beforehand and had to kidnap a man to get his money. Dzhokhar actually picked up his car from the mechanic a day after the bombing and was visibly nervous. He took the car even though it still needed repairs. It’s possible that the brothers didn’t want to flee in a damaged, suspicious vehicle, but why didn’t they steal a car shortly before or after the bombings then?
They had no qualms about slaughtering innocents but let the hostage live. Nor did Dzokhar kill the man who found him in the boat. He was armed in his final hours and presumably sought martyrdom like his brother, but didn’t kill himself or force the cops to kill him. Perhaps, Dzokhar passed out from blood loss unexpectedly and that prevented him from making a last stand.
The unexpected capture of Dzokhar will enable authorities to get the full story and to inquire about their accomplices. Should this be only a two-man cell, we mustn’t lose sight of what caused the Boston bombings.
This atrocity wasn’t produced by a crazy older brother leading his impressionable younger sibling. It was produced by an ideology.
This IRD article was originally published at FrontPage Magazine.