News / Europe

Experts Suspect Russia Has More Intel on Alleged Boston Bomber

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The ethnic Chechen brothers are the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The ethnic Chechen brothers are the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Fatima Tlisova
Two leading experts on the Russian republic of Dagestan suspect Moscow knows a lot more about one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers than it is telling U.S. investigators. Another warns unrest in the Caucasus region, which includes Dagestan, could spill over into February’s winter Olympics in Sochi, less than a day’s drive away on the Black Sea.

Two ethnic Chechen residents of the Boston area–Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev–were accused of last week’s marathon bombing. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shootout with Boston police last Friday and Dzhokhar, 19, was captured later the same day.

Tamerlan spent half of 2012 in Dagestan, ostensibly to visit relatives. U.S. investigators are trying to determine if the lengthy visit included contacts with Islamist factions and extremists groups that have been a source of turmoil in the region for years.

In Boston, Tamerlan had expressed sympathies with the ideologies of such groups.

‘Black spot’ in the story

“Tamerlan’s trip to Dagestan remains one of the major ‘black spots’ in the story of the Boston bombers,” said Jean-Francois Ratelle, a professor at George Washington University in Washington. Ratelle worked in Dagestan researching the radicalization of Islamic youths in the Caucasus region.

The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, with the suspects' father Anzor Tsarnaev, left, speaks at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan, April 25, 2013.The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, with the suspects' father Anzor Tsarnaev, left, speaks at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan, April 25, 2013.
x
The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, with the suspects' father Anzor Tsarnaev, left, speaks at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan, April 25, 2013.
The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, with the suspects' father Anzor Tsarnaev, left, speaks at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan, April 25, 2013.
Ratelle said Russia’s FSB intelligence agency closely monitors Islamist groups in Dagestan.

“I grew a beard and was spending time among young, the young radicals," he said. "That was enough for being under constant surveillance, for being detained several times and questioned."

Prior to Tamerlan’s Dagestan trip, Russian intelligence contacted both the FBI and CIA inquiring about Tsarnaev, warning that he might try “to join unspecified underground groups” if he visited the Caucasus region. But, according to the FBI and CIA, Moscow did not supply additional information despite repeated requests.

Ratelle said it was “very interesting” that Russian intelligence did not follow up with a report on Tamerlan’s Dagestan visit despite its earlier warning.

Russians provide no details

Another Dagestan expert troubled by Moscow’s silence is Walter Richmond, professor of Russian studies at Occidental College in California.

“Did Tamerlan Tsarnaev travel to Russia to get to the terrorist training camps?” Richmond said. “We don’t have an answer since the Russian government agency did not provide us with details of his six month stay in Dagestan. [It's] very strange, the fact that a young man who was on the watch list of the Russian security services as a suspect in terrorist activities was allowed to enter the country’s most troubled region, stay and leave with no reported encounter with any of the government agencies.”

Russia, highlighting DagestanRussia, highlighting Dagestan

Ratelle said he would not be at all surprised if Tamerlan came away from last year’s visit to Dagestan as a much more “radicalized” Islamist.

“I have witnessed many of my young acquaintances in Makhachkala [the regional capital] becoming radicalized during my stay in Dagestan,” he said. “If a young man like Tamerlan Tsarnaev wishes to become a ‘pure Muslim,’ Dagestan is the right access point to get closer to that ideology.”

​And Glen E. Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, believes the turmoil in the Caucasus region could spell trouble for the winter Olympics, scheduled in Sochi, just across the Caucasus Mountains from Dagestan.

“The big question we in the West, and especially in the U.S., should be asking ourselves today is about the risks of dispatching thousands of our athletes and spectators to the Olympics in Sochi,” Howard said.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vlad from: Fort Lee, NJ
April 26, 2013 11:36 AM
So, VOA is now peddling conspiracy theories in support of the Jamestown Foundation's long standing agenda of cancelling the Sochi Olympics? Shameful!

by: alex from: New York
April 26, 2013 10:41 AM
I find it interesting that you are all pointing fingers, the information was provided to the FBI about a possible terrorist, they closed the case, why? When are we going to take responsibility for our actions exactly? Because this approach is not how we get there. When you receive intel from a country such as Russia, this has to be taken seriously, and it was not (due to the extent of the investigation).

Let's look at ourselves before we point fingers at the people that tried to help us, otherwise they will not help us again.

Have a good weekend!

by: Derek from: NYC
April 26, 2013 10:01 AM
The Chechens fought lost 2 wars for independence from Russia (1994-95 and 1999). Since then Russia has been trying to portray the Chechen rebels as jihadists; extremist Muslims even though the Chechens have more in common w/ Russians than Arab jihadists or Afghan Taliban. There has never been in any evidence of a link b/t Chechen separatists and Al Qaeda. No Chechens have ever been found fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Chechens are Muslim and the rebels often invoke Islam in their fight but their war is a political one for independence from Russia, not a religious fundamentalist war against non-Muslims. Human rights NGOs; the US have lambasted Russia for its severe human rights violations in Chechnya.

by: Ramzan from: Grozny
April 26, 2013 4:51 AM
Yet another massacre has occurred in the historically war-torn region of the Southern United States – and so soon after the religious festival of Easter.

Brian McConkey, 27, a Christian fundamentalist militiaman living in the formerly occupied territory of Alabama, gunned down three men from an opposing tribe in the village square near Montgomery, the capitol, over a discussion that may have involved the rituals of the local football cult. In this region full of heavily-armed local warlords and radical Christian clerics, gun violence is part of the life of many.

Many of the militiamen here are ethnic Scots-Irish tribesmen, a famously indomitable mountain people who have killed civilized men – and each other – for centuries. It appears that the wars that started on the fields of Bannockburn and Stirling have come to America.

As the sun sets over the former Confederate States of America, one wonders – can peace ever come to this land?

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
April 25, 2013 9:04 PM
I completely agree that Moscow’s unwillingness to provide Intel information in such high profile case looks more than suspicious in two respects: 1)either Moscow keeps the Intel in the hope for exchange of softening West’s attitude to iron fist rule of Mr Putin in Russia and his challenge to the West. It questions sincerity of Mr Putin’s call on the USA “to push together”. 2) or Moscow is caught in a foul play as the the Kremlin wanted to use Tamerlan Tsarnaev for speedily mending bilateral relations. Just remember how blasts of apartment houses over Russia were used to justify war in Chechnys. Tamerlan might through double agents (islamists/FSB) actually have spent six months in a FSB training camp, disguised as belonging to Islamists . I have no doubts that there are plenty of such camps in the region.
In Response

by: Richard from: Dallas, Texas, USA
April 26, 2013 12:17 AM
It does seem odd to me that the bombs used worked so well, especially as Dzhokhar said they did not test them prior to use. It seems to me that most of the time, home-made bombs either detonate prematurely, or not at all.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs