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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora