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Details Emerge on Religious Motives of Boston Bomb Suspects and Recent Interest in Chechnya – A ‘Hub’ of Extremist Saudi Wahhabism

New details are emerging about the religious motivations of Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and their recent interest in Chechnya, which experts say has become a hub for the extremist Saudi sect of Islam known as Wahhabism.

The brothers are ethnically Chechen, though Dzhokhar was born in the Russian republic of Dagestan while his deceased older brother Tamerlan was born in the neighboring Russian republic of Kalmykia. Their parents confirmed that Tamerlan visited Dagestan and Chechnya last year, but denied reports that he did so to engage in militant Islamist training.

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Professor Brian Glyn Williams, who mentored the younger Tsarnaev brother via email for his class on the War on Terror, noted the brothers’ growing sense of Chechen identity.

Williams also posited that Tamerlan Tsarnaev became radicalized during his trip to Russia and also helped influence his younger brother.

Details on Tsarnaev brothers and their religious motivations

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.Credit: AP

“That kid [Dzhokhar] and his brother identified with the Chechen struggle,” he said in an email to Steve Urbon of South Coast recently.

“He was learning his Chechen identity, identifying with the diaspora and identifying with his homeland,” Williams said of Dzhokhar.

“He wanted to learn more about Chechnya, who the fighters were, who the commanders were. I sort of gave him background.”

Chechnya and Dagestan, separate Russian republics nestled in the North Caucasus, have majority Muslim populations that have long been influenced by Wahhabism, described by the U.S. Congressional Research Service as a “puritanical” form of Sunni Islam whose practice is centered in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials maintain that the Tsarnaevs acted on their own and were not connected with any other groups — taking pains to affirm the innocence of two Saudi students questioned in Boston on the day of the bombings. One of those Saudi students, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, was initially a person of interest in the bombings and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed Tuesday that he was placed on a terror watch list after the attack. An event file created by federal law enforcement agents on April 16 called for his visa to be revoked, citing a terrorism threat, and indicated he was not properly vetted before being admitted to the U.S.

While no current evidence links Alharbi to the Tsarnaev brothers, preliminary statements from the interrogation of Dzhokhar suggests the brothers were motivated by Islam. Additionally, the brothers appear to have been driven by a radical brand of Islam — although U.S. officials claimed they do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups.

That raises this question: Just how influential is Islam, and Saudi-Wahhabism in particular, in Chechnya and Dagestan?

Background on the region 

Caucasus-political en

Chechnya and Dagestan lost their independence to Russia some 200 years ago at the hands of Tsar Nicholas I and have been, in some way shape or form, fighting ever since.

In fact, Dr. Andrew Bostom, author of the scholarly volume, “The Legacy of Islamic Jihad,” told TheBlaze that Chechnya, which first adopted Islam in the 7th Century, is indeed “the hub” for all jihadist activity in the entire Caucasus region. What’s more, he also said it has also become a hub for the extremist sect of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism.

According to Ksenia Svetlova, an analyst for Israel’s Channel 9 who holds a doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University, Chechnya and Dagestan became a hotbed of Wahhabism from the early 1990s.

“Mosques and madrasas were opened; training camps for young combatants were established to prepare them for the ‘jihad against the infidels,’” Svetlova wrote in an article explaining the region’s bent towards radical Islam. According to the scholar, the teachings of Wahhabist jihadi Said Buryatsky “are among the most downloaded files in Chechnya.”

Svetlova also notes that Wahhabists “send money to religious institutions around the world, including in Chechnya and Dagestan.” By the late 1980s, Saudi Arabia also began sending clerics, scholars and “jihadist combatants” to the Caucasus, according to Svetlova.

Also worth noting is that Saudi Arabia has, according to Bostom, long been known to fund projects as simple as providing language-translations of the Koran and Hadiths, ensuring that people of all walks can digest Islamic sacred texts regardless of their mother tongue.

“That is often one of their most simple and legal forms of propaganda,” Bostom told TheBlaze. ”To get Koran and Hadith into every population and I am sure they did this in Caucasus, just as I’m sure they funded the jihadists against the Soviets just as they did in Afghanistan.”

Wahhabism in the North Caucasus

Wahhabism, which originated in the Arabian peninsula during the 18th century, was meant as a return to a purer form of Islam by adopting a literal interpretation of the Koran and Hadiths. It is the predominant sect of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

“Wahhabism became an attractive alternative to the complicated mystic ideology of ‘normative’ Sufi Islam for a certain segment of Chechen believers,” noted Emil Souleimanov, author of “An Endless War: The Russian-Chechen Conflict In Perspective.”

“It [Wahhabism] especially appealed to the militarized and–owing to the war–radicalized youth.”

Souleimanov notes the irony in Chechen youths’ adoption of Wahhabism as a form of personal freedom, given the sects ultra-conservative restraints.

“Yet in post-war Chechnya the egalitarian and militant spirit of Wahhabism seemed to be a desirable alternative to the rigid social structure.” The author goes on to note that despite the Wahhabists strict, extremist bent, Chechens by and large will not renounce the sect nor even openly criticize it. Rather, Chechens applaud young ideologues for being honorable enough to refrain from drugs, alcohol and for allowing themselves to be martyred for their cause.

This, coupled with the fact that Wahhabi emissaries, according to the author, have often provided Chechens with charity, has gone a long way in creating a society that will likely refrain from acting out against the Wahhabi influence.

Details on Tsarnaev brothers and their religious motivations

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (C) wearing the national dress walks to take part in the Chechen language Day holiday in Chechnya’s capital Grozny, on April 28, 2012.Credit: AFP/Getty Images

What is perhaps most interesting about Chechnya, is that one would expect the republic’s current pro-Putin government, led by Sufi president Ramzan Kadyrov, to soften the Islamic influence in the North Caucasus. Rather, Kadyrov, while an opponent of Wahhabism, is no moderate and has been outspoken in his desire to implement Sharia law in Chechnya.

This perhaps underscores the radical elements present even within the “moderate” sects of the North Caucasus.

Wartime  and Wahhabism 

While the first and second Chechnya Wars of the 1990s were characterized by many as simply “nationalistic” struggles for independence against the Russian Federation, experts note it was more about the establishment of an Islamic caliphate some Chechens have been after.

The first Chechnya War began before the collapse of the Soviet Union and lasted nearly two years, during which time thousands of civilians on both sides perished. The Soviets inevitably prevailed, but it was not before long an even more radicalized Chechen populace, under the banner of the Islamic International Brigade, challenged Moscow again, this time by invading Dagestan.

The pretext for Islamists was that Chechnya would overtake Dagestan and declare the two republics as a single, unified, independent Islamic state.

In 1997, ethnic Avar (the predominant tribe in Dagestan) and Wahhabist Bagauddin Magomedov, who served as ”Emir of the Islamic Jamaat of Dagestan,” fled to Chechnya to woo neighboring Wahhabi-leaders. Soon, an “Islamic Legion” was formed and by the Spring of 1999, Magomedov, according to Souleimanov, made an appeal to the “Islamic patriots of the Caucasus” to “take part in the jihad” and help in “liberating Dagestan and the Caucasus from the Russian colonial yoke.”

Needless to say, the Russians weren’t having any of it and, like the last time, they reigned victorious. What resulted was the installment of a pro-Moscow government in Chechnya (now led by President Ramzan Kadyrov) and a steady stream of low-level internal insurgencies coupled with more serious terror cell activity conducted by international jihadists who have used Chechnya as a base of operations.

Jihadi links with Chechnya and Dagestan

Chechnya has long been an outpost from which jihadists have operated.

Details on Tsarnaev brothers and their religious motivations

Zacarias Moussaoui’s booking photo. Source: U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia

Consider the fact that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden openly backed the Chechens in the 1990s during their wartime struggles against Russia, and 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui was, according to the Wall Street Journal, “a recruiter for al-Qaeda-backed rebels in Chechnya.”

Chechen militants fought with al-Qaeda and Taliban forces against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in late 2001.

Even German al Qaeda operative Christian Ganczarski went on to Chechnya after becoming radicalized in Saudi Arabia, which has reportedly furnished thousands of international scholarships to young men in an effort to provide al Qaeda with a steady stream of new recruits. 

Other Chechen-related jihadist attacks include the 2002 incident in which 40 terrorists — mostly women in hijabs dubbed the “Black Widows” — took more than 700 hostages at a Moscow theater demanding Chechen independence. In the end they blew themselves up in a suicide mission, claiming 100 other movie-goers.

Then, in 2004, jihadists demanding Chechen independence infamously set siege to a school in Beslan,

North Ossetia, taking 1200 hostage. While they were defeated in the end, the Islamists killed 334 hostages, including 186 children.

Details on Tsarnaev brothers and their religious motivations

This image taken from video and released Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 by The Kavkaz Center, a website affiliated with Chechen rebels, shows insurgent leader Doku Umarov speaking in a video in which he claims responsibility for deadly suicide bombing at Russia’s largest airport.Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

What’s more, Chechen jihadist Doku (Dokka) Umarov leads the Caucasus Emirate, a group designated by both the Russian Federation and the United States as a terrorist organization.

Umarov, who fought in both Chechnyan wars against Russia, is known as the Chechen Osama bin Laden.

He has claimed credit for ordering the Moscow airport bombing in January 2011 that killed 36 people and injured 180 others, and the March 2010 suicide bombings that targeted the Moscow subway system and killed 39 people. He also reportedly ordered the November 2009 bombing of a train to St. Petersburg from Moscow that killed 26 people, according to the BBC.

The Caucasus Emirate, which was linked to on Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s reported YouTube page, is aligned ideologically and through its members, with al Qaeda and seeks the establishment of an Islamic State in the Caucasus.

Former CIA operative and senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, Clare Lopez, told TheBlaze that there are many al Qaeda-Chechen ties.

“It’s not all about Russia,” Lopez said in an email. “It’s about international jihad where Chechens can be found on every jihad battlefield…and now here in the U.S. too.”

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Here And Now, Home | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment




*Live Updates* Boston Police Scanner: Massive Shootout in Watertown, MA




Breitbart News will provide updates on the situation as they occur.


PHOTO: A police officer with is weapon drawn conducts a search for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, Friday, April 19, 2013, in Watertown, Mass. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)



UPDATE (10:55 AM EDT): “the brothers carjacked a Mercedes SUV and told the driver they were the men behind Monday’s double-blast attack at the race and had just killed a campus security officer, a source told NBC News.”


OLD NEWS: This photo started making the rounds yesterday evening—shows suspect, now tentatively ID’d as Tsarnaev, allegedly placing bomb behind 8-year-old Martin Richard, one of the three people killed in Monday’s attack.



UPDATE (10:47 AM EDT): New York traffic stop getting curious:



UPDATE (10:44 AM EDT): Terrible.



UPDATE (10:37 AM EDT): Connecticut government reports Honda of interest “has been recovered in Boston.”


PHOTO: Kenmore Square in Boston virtually empty. (Andrew Golden via NBC News)



UPDATE (10:11 AM EDT): The morning’s intrigue expands into another state.



UPDATE (10:09 AM EDT): FAA has established a no-fly zone over Watertown, MA.


UPDATE (10:07 AM EDT): WCVB TV: UMass Dartmouth is evacuating the dormitory where Tsarnaev lived.


PHOTO: Radio host Robin Young tweets out what appears to be a graduation photo of suspect Tsarnaev. [Cropped to remove individual unrelated to case]



UPDATE (9:42 AM EDT): New York NBC affiliate says car pulled over from previous update has Massachusetts plates.


UPDATE (9:38 AM EDT): Wounded officer expected to live.





Credit: Dan McQuade/Twitter


UPDATE (9:27 AM EDT): “A law enforcement source told the Globe that an explosive trigger was found on the dead brother’s body at the morgue.”


UPDATE (9:22 AM EDT): Situation developing outside Massachusetts. No evidence yet of connection to Boston suspect hunt.



UPDATE (9:12 AM EDT): LA Times contradicts earlier NBC report that brothers had been in country “legally for about a year.”



UPDATE (9:09 AM EDT): Twitter users find account referenced by police scanner. Has not tweeted before today, only follows Boston Police account. Many accusations of fakery.


UPDATE (9:01 AM EDT): Scanner: “He is posting online, ‘I will kill all of you as you killed my brother.'”


PHOTO: FBI releases more recent photo of suspect.



UPDATE (8:52 AM EDT): Bomb threat being taken very seriously by law enforcement.



UPDATE (8:49 AM EDT): Reports coming in that police have someone in custody coming out of suspect’s apartment building. One on scene says “nothing to indicate man is suspect.”


UPDATE (8:36 AM EDT): I heard about 45 minutes ago on the police scanner something about “blood spots” but wasn’t entirely certain. Seems the LA Times corroborates my (admittedly spotty) hearing.



UPDATE (8:27 AM EDT): Wounded officer identified.



UPDATE (8:20 AM EDT): Scanner: suspect at large reportedly wearing “suicide vest.”



PHOTO: SWAT teams enter a suburban neighborhood to search an apartment for the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown, Massachusetts April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi



UPDATE (8:02 AM EDT): MA Gov. Deval Patrick addressing reporters. Says instructions to stay indoors extend to all of Boston.





UPDATE (7:48 AM EDT): Eyewitness says now-dead suspect charged at police, was tackled in overnight gunfight. May have been attempting a suicide bombing, per CNN report of explosives on his person.



UPDATE (7:46 AM EDT): Police descending on suspect’s apartment.



UPDATE (7:42 AM EDT): CNN: we “know” brothers suspected of bombing are “Islamic,” “Muslim.”


UPDATE: Cambridge area police are clearing is street of suspect’s apartment. “Dangerous scene.”


PHOTO: This image provided by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center shows Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. (AP)



UPDATE (7:19 AM EDT): Globe reporter: police clearing media from area in Cambridge.



PHOTO: Watertown resident Shawna England tweets this amazing view from her house:



UPDATE (7:12 AM EDT): WCVB reporter: captured person from last hour not Marathon suspect.


UPDATE (7:06 AM EDT): Name given by Associated Press listed among recipients of a $2,500 scholarship for “seniors at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and others pursuing higher education.”


UPDATE (7:02 AM EDT): Scanner: pipe bomb detonated in Kenmore Square area (Charles Gate and Comm Ave, near MIT bridge).


Police commissioner: controlled detonation by bomb squad.


UPDATE (6:57 AM EDT): More school closings.



UPDATE (6:48 AM EDT): Reddit theory on missing student suffers a heavy blow.



UPDATE (6:43 AM EDT): AP claims knowledge of suspects’ nation of origin.



Residents of five Boston suburbs in addition to Watertown advised to stay indoors:



UPDATE (6:38 AM EDT): Scanner: law enforcement still conducting door-to-door searches. Boston public schools cancel all activities:



UPDATE (6:34 AM EDT): Emerson College, Suffolk University have also cancelled classes Friday.


UPDATE (6:28 AM EDT): Scanner: police on scene sending three photos to ID persons in custody.


UPDATE (6:23 AM EDT): Police on scanner have not yet confirmed reported suspect in custody is white cap bombing suspect.




PHOTO: Bus carrying SWAT team. Sean Kelly/WCVB/Twitter



UPDATE (6:03 AM EDT): Scanner: reports of male—white skin, dark hair, dark backpack—trying to flag down vehicles in Beacon Park for a ride.


UPDATE (5:59 AM EDT): “Harvard University is closed due to public safety concerns.”





PHOTO: Officials secure an area in Watertown, Mass., Friday, April 19, 2013. Dozens of officers and National Guard members are in Watertown, where television outlets report that gunfire and explosions have been heard. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)



UPDATE (5:45 AM EDT): Scanner: All MBTA trains, subways have been suspended.


UPDATE (5:41 AM EDT): Dead suspect’s possible blast wounds could have been caused by worn explosives.



UPDATE (5:27 AM EDT): At press conference from Beth Israel hospital, doctors say suspect who died had multiple gunshot wounds and evidence of blast wounds from an explosive device.


Scanner: police will close down the Arsenal mall in Watertown. Will turn away employees.


UPDATE (5:23 AM EDT): MIT has cancelled all Friday classes.


UPDATE (5:18 AM EDT): “Law enforcement sources said the suspects have international links and have been in the country legally for about a year,” reports NBC News.


NBC’s Pete Williams says that the suspect at large is not believed to be missing student Sunil Tripathi.


UPDATE (5:06 AM EDT): Police scanner: bomb sniffing dogs needed from Boston at address of suspicious package near MIT because so many are committed to Watertown.


PHOTO: A vehicle carrying officers in tactical gear arrives at the Watertown neighborhood of Boston, Friday, April 19, 2013. Reports of explosives being detonated and police are telling reporters to turn off their cell phones. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)



UPDATE (4:50 AM EDT): Evac for residents of streets where suspects left bombs behind.



UPDATE (4:45 AM EDT): Suspicious package reported near MIT campus.



PHOTO: Bomb squad robot in action on site of Watertown shootout.



UPDATE (4:35 AM EDT): Police scanner: “[Suspect] might have a device on his person if we come across him.”


UPDATE (4:29 AM EDT): Boston Globe reports that suspect #2 allegedly robbed a convenience store during the night.


UPDATE (4:23 AM EDT): State police press conference on suspect #2: “we believe this to be a terrorist. We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people.”


PHOTO: Boston police have tweeted this photo of the suspect at large.



UPDATE (4:06 AM EDT): The Boston Police Commissioner says the Boston Marathon bombing suspect wearing a black hat on Monday has died, according to WCVB.


UPDATE (4:00 AM EDT): Police are about to begin controlled detonations of devices left by suspects.



UPDATE (3:45 AM EDT): Police searching door to door.



UPDATE (3:42 AM EDT): Massacushetts police advise civilians in Watertown to stay indoors.



UPDATE (3:40 AM EDT): Local news says one suspect may be dead.



UPDATE (3:37 AM EDT): Officers confirm description of suspect at large over scanner: “White male with a dark complexion or Middle Eastern male with dark curly hair and a gray hoodie.”


UPDATE (3:20 AM EDT): 



UPDATE (3:17 AM EDT): Police chasing down subject with dogs.



UPDATE (3:15 AM EDT): The New York Times has a report on the shootout full of detail, including descriptions from eyewitness Kitzenburg:


The two shooters, he said, had a large and unwieldy bomb. “They lit it, still in the middle of the gunfire, and threw it. But it went 20 yards at most.” It exploded, he said, and one of the two men ran towards the gathered police officers. He was tackled, but it was not clear if he was shot, Mr. Kitzenberg said.


UPDATE (3:10 AM EDT): Homeland Security present.



UPDATE (3:07 AM EDT): Police Public Information Officer talking to reporters. Revises number of suspects accounted for. Gives details on wounded officer.



UPDATE (3:01 AM EDT): Names of suspects heard over scanner.



Sunil Tripathi was a philosophy major at Brown University. He disappeared in March.


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UPDATE (2:57 AM EDT): Suspect at large described on scanner as “extremely armed and dangerous,” “could have an IED explosive device on him.”


UPDATE (2:54 AM EDT): NBC News’ Luke Russert, keeping everything in perspective:



PHOTO: More images of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects released by FBI slightly less than an hour ago.





VIDEO: WCVB has an amateur video capturing the shooting:


UPDATE (2:44 AM EDT): CNN says multiple explosive devices were used against police. Breitbart’s Kerry Picket relays confirmation from locals:



UPDATE (2:40 AM EDT): Massachusetts State Police say there may be more than two suspects.



UPDATE (2:37 AM EDT): A reporter for local affiliate WHDH says that one suspect in tonight’s shootout may be dead.


UPDATE (2:27 AM EDT): The Boston Globe’s Jennifer Peter links the situation in Watertown to Monday’s Boston marathon bombing.




UPDATE (2:23 AM EDT): Breitbart News’s Kerry Picket, on scene in Watertown, says locals saw the sky lit up during the shootout.



UPDATE (2:18 AM EDT): Officer asks on scanner whether the suspects used hand guns or “long guns.” Responding officer: “definitely long guns.”


UPDATE (2:15 AM EDT): A Boston videographer shows the National Guard is now active in Watertown.



UPDATE (2:11 AM EDT): All police officers heading to active scenes have been told to power down their cell phones.


PHOTO: Police officers keep a man on the ground in Watertown, Massachusetts April 19, 2013 following the shooting of a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A police officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was shot to death on Thursday night at the school’s Cambridge campus, touching off a manhunt for a suspect or suspects in a community on edge just days after the Boston Marathon bombing. REUTERS/Brian Snyder



UPDATE (2:04 AM EDT): Boston police are investigating an abandoned SUV at Lincoln and Spruce St., Watertown.


CNN says the situation on MIT’s campus is now over and residents can return to their normal routines.



UPDATE (2:00 AM EDT): Journalism student Taylor Dobbs, currently on the street of the shootout, shows Boston PD is escalating its presence:



UPDATE (1:58 AM EDT): Mt Auburn Hospital in Cambridge is reportedly Code Black, possibly meaning a bomb threat.


The Boston Globe says FBI agents are in Watertown.


UPDATE (1:50 AM EDT): Seth Mnookin, a professor at MIT, provides a photo of an arrest made on scene.



UPDATE (1:46 AM EDT): Jake Tapper of CNN says that the FBI has made its way to MIT’s campus. FBI is not yet involved in Watertown shootout.


UPDATE (1:44 AM EDT): Kitzenberg says the suspects have left backpacks in the street and the bomb squad is on scene.



UPDATE (1:40 AM EDT): Police say the second suspect is not in custody.


PHOTO: Suspect’s car outside Kitzenberg’s home. Credit: Andrew Kitzenberg/Twitter



UPDATE (1:35 AM EDT): Twitter user Andrew Kitzenberg says the gunfight took place on the street outside his home. One police car crashed and all its windows were shot out, he states. Kitzenberg says he heard five minutes of gunfire and says a “pressure cooker bomb” was included in the exchange.


UPDATE (1:21 AM EDT): Shortly after a police officer was shot on the campus of MIT in Cambridge Thursday night, several indidivuals heard over the Boston Police scanner that officers received a report of a carjacking by two armed “Middle Eastern men.”


State troopers pursued the suspects and engaged in a gunfight in the city of Watertown. Police radio reported use of hand grenades and automatic firearms. One suspect has been captured and is en route to Beth Israel Medical Center. There are currently conflicting reports on whether the second suspect has been captured or not.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Home, Videos | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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