News / USA

Experts Caution Against Rushing to Conclusions in Boston Bombings

This combination of photos provided on April 19, 2013 by the FBI shows a suspect that officials have identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being sought by police in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.This combination of photos provided on April 19, 2013 by the FBI shows a suspect that officials have identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being sought by police in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.
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This combination of photos provided on April 19, 2013 by the FBI shows a suspect that officials have identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being sought by police in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.
This combination of photos provided on April 19, 2013 by the FBI shows a suspect that officials have identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being sought by police in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.
Chechnya, located in the north Caucasus region, has been a thorn in Russia’s side for centuries. First czars, then Soviet leaders and Russian presidents fought independence movements there. Now Chechnya is under the iron-fisted rule of Moscow’s pro-Russian leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Charles King, a Caucasus expert at the Wilson Center, said “It is certainly the case that the North Caucasus have been over the course of the last 20 years and one would say even over the course of the last 200 years, a rather violent place where secessionist movements have been relatively common. It was a region of the Russian Federation described as the single greatest security threat to the Russian state by the Russian authorities some time ago.”

For more than a decade, Chechen militants engaged in terrorist acts: from blowing up airliners, bombing the Moscow metro, seizing a theater in the Russian capital or a school in North Ossetia.

But analysts - including King - caution not to jump to conclusions about the Boston bombings, allegedly carried out by Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, two brothers who are ethnic Chechens and came to the United States at least eight years ago.

“We don’t know much at this point about the political motivation for their alleged action,” said King. “We don’t know much about the way in which they might have become radicalized - and I think probably at this point speculating about the real Chechen angle on this would be kind of speculating about the Scots-Irish angle on someone like Timothy McVeigh.”

King said “We do not focus on the specific ethnic background of perpetrators - in a way, there is a more frightening side of this - it is the domestic American angle rather than the international one.”

Robert Legvold of Columbia University said there is no evidence of an international conspiracy.

“There are no reports that the older brother had gone off to some kind of an exercise in Pakistan or places that some of these Americans have gone to that have gotten involved with al-Qaida or related groups,” said Legvold. “Certainly to assume that Chechnya or anybody else in Chechnya has anything to do with these two, that seems to me to be completely off base.”

Legvold cautioned about U.S. media reports about the alleged bombers. “The majority of Americans don’t have a clue as to what Chechnya is or where it is, or what this is all about,” said Legvold. “So there are going to be some unfortunate associations done in the public on the U.S. side. The media is already confused about this kind of thing a bit.”

Experts said during these times of heightened tensions, cooler heads must prevail.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

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by: jcbloom from: Phoenix
April 19, 2013 5:20 PM
Thank you for a well-considered, sane article in the midst of all the uninformed vitrol. Unfortunately, soon this article's comments section will be deluged by right-wing, racist trolls spewing their lies. Ah well.

by: Bryant from: MacDonald
April 19, 2013 5:18 PM
Re: "The majority of Americans don't have a clue as what Chechnya is or where it is ...." Sounds like you have little knowledge as to who Americans are and what they know. Any one who has read a newspaper in the past 20 years knows what is happening over there and knows of the radical Islamic movement that has taken hold. If McVeigh had been a member of the IRA, recently immigrated, and bombed a Protestant Church his Irish background, if any, would have been relevant.

by: Martina C. from: USA
April 19, 2013 5:13 PM
hey, the same "experts" told us that it could have been Catholic Choir Boys... or Girl Scouts... or Jewish Accountants... or Mormon Missionaries... but it couldn't be Arabs or Muslims... no.
we ask the "experts" to shut up..!! we are the experts when it comes to our own security

by: Big Mac from: Denver
April 19, 2013 5:11 PM
First I would like you to ask the victim's families and the victims themselves not to rush to conclusions in the bombings. If they give a statement saying that they won't, I'll follow suit. Is it a deal "experts"? I don't care what's going on or what has happened in the past in Chechnya. There have been numerous situations like theirs all over the world in the past, but they don't move here, get disgruntled and start blowing Americans up. No excuse whatever the case is or yours.

by: chas from: Lamborghini
April 19, 2013 5:00 PM
"The majority of Americans don’t have a clue." Nuff said.

by: Ron from: Mass
April 19, 2013 4:59 PM
You have got to be kidding me, "Caution Against Rushing to Conclusions in Boston Bombings", really?

by: seaoatsdave from: Florida
April 19, 2013 4:56 PM
Mr. Legvold said “The majority of Americans don’t have a clue as to what Chechnya is or where it is, or what this is all about." Obviously he is referring to the low information voter. Because many of us do remember the wars that occurred there in the 1990s and that is was religious and politically based. Many Americans are getting frustrated with the low-expectations put upon us by the media and elected officials. Time to raise those because much of this country is made of well educated and informed people!

by: skiimaan from: usa
April 19, 2013 4:51 PM
So far, the best quote in the news that I've read
"Any attempt to make a connection between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if they are guilty, is in vain," Mr. Kadyrov said in a statement on Instagram. "They grew up in the United States. Their attitudes and beliefs were formed there. One must look for the root of the evil in America."

by: D Daniels from: midwest
April 19, 2013 4:50 PM
Since when did the press care if they got it right. The press in the United States has gotten to the point it just wants to sway readers and listeners to them , Even if they have to tell a lie to do it, I mean what the heck who gets hurt as long as we get those ratings.
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