Video: Older Tsarnaev went to Russia for six months; Update: CBS: FBI interviewed Tsarnaev in 2011; Update: Into “religious politics” for 5 years, says mother

posted at 4:41 pm on April 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Allahpundit included a reference to this in our afternoon thread on the Tsarnaev case, but it’s worth breaking out into a full thread. Some in the media have expressed some bemusement about how two young immigrants brought up in the US for a decade could have been radicalized seemingly so quickly. Information that began coming out a couple of hours ago may explain at least the timing and the circumstances of that radicalization:

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia last year and returned to the U.S. six months later, government officials told The Associated Press. …

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they couldn’t talk publicly about an investigation in progress. Tsarnaev traveled from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to one of the officials.

The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which neighbors the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles said. There are no known ties at this point to Chechen extremist groups, one of the officials said.

The father had left the US in 2009, which could explain the visit in Russia in entirely innocent terms. On the other hand, by last year Tamerlan apparently had a wife and a three-year-old child, according to information provided to CBS by his uncle:

That makes a six-month absence look … intriguing.  Several years prior to that, Tamerlan had become a devout Muslim, which surprised the uncle who called him a “loser” on television earlier today:

An uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a devout Muslim about seven or eight years ago.

“When I was speaking to the older one, he started all this religious talk, ‘Insh’allah’ and all that, and I asked him, ‘Where is all that coming from?’” said Ruslan Tsarni, 42, a corporate lawyer and executive.

The six-month visit to Russia at least suggests that he was in proximity to some extremist groups for quite a while, had he chosen to pursue contact with such groups. After taking a look earlier at Tsarnaev’s YouTube channel, it’s clear that Tamerlan at least admired those kinds of groups.

NBC is also looking at the Chechen angle, and the potential for connections between Tsarnaev and Islamic Jihad Union in Dagestan and Chechnya:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fox is also reporting that, not surprisingly, they are taking a very close look at the electronic communications from both brothers to see what kind of connections they did have.  The feds are also pointing out that the skill of making pressure-cooker bombs takes some time to acquire — and a few months out of the US might have been time spent on such pursuits:

Multiple sources confirmed Tamerlan went to Russia for a prolonged period last year. It’s unclear what he did there, but Fox News is told that the bombmaker who made the Boston devices would need practice to build a device with a viable detonator.

A senior Capitol Hill source, who has been briefed by the National Counterterrorism Center on the manhunt, told Fox News the FBI is tracking passports, airline tickets and a lot of other data.

Fox News is also told that all electronic traffic associated with the brothers is now being “combed,” including the YouTube sites attributed to the suspects which included radical Islamist videos and propaganda.

Investigators are working to verify whether the sites and postings associated with the brothers were in fact theirs. Fox News was told “nothing is being taken for granted” in terms of authenticity.

As I said, it could all have been an innocent visit with family, but it bears investigation.

Update: Hmmmm:

This would be before Tamerlan went to Russia, so I wonder what would have put him on the FBI’s radar.

Update: This may answer that question, but it opens up others:

Well, which foreign country — and why?  Could it have been Russia?

Update: Earlier, Tsarnaev’s mother insisted that the FBI knew what her son was up to.  This is apparently what she meant — and it took an interview with Russia Today to job the FBI’s memory:

Although the FBI initially denied contacting Tsarnaev, the brothers’ mother said they had in an interview with Russia Today.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said her son got involved in “religious politics” about five years ago, and never told her he was involved in “jihad.”

She insisted the FBI “knew what he was doing on Skype” and that they counseled him “every step of the way.”

Tsarnaeva, who is a U.S. citizen currently in Russia, told Russia Today the FBI had called her with concerns about her elder son, although she did not specify when exactly she was contacted.

“They used to come [to our] home, they used to talk to me … they were telling me that he was really an extremist leader and that they were afraid of him,” Tsarnaeva said. “They told me whatever information he is getting, he gets from these extremist sites… they were controlling him, they were controlling his every step…and now they say that this is a terrorist act!”

Tamerlan was into “religious politics” for five years?  Again, it makes that trip to Russia look even more interesting.

Update: From commenter Angus McC:

For all the bluster I’ve seen on this site in recent years aimed at Russia, Russia has been fighting Islamic terrorism longer than we have. The could be our allies if we can drop the silly nostalgia for the Cold War days. Plus, the Russians are ruthless as hell, which makes for a doubly good ally.

I’d bet a small fortune that our FBI interviewed Tsarnaev on Russia’s request.

There are more issues with Russia than “silly nostalgia for the Cold War days,” and there is at least an argument that the Russian insistence on holding Chechnya helped foster the Islamist rebellion after the more secular initial rebellion failed.  But Angus is right that Russia has been fighting the Islamists for a long time, which may be why the FBI took their request seriously enough to interview Tsarnaev, if the request actually came from Russia.


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There are more issues with Russia than “silly nostalgia for the Cold War days,” and there is at least an argument that the Russian insistence on holding Chechnya helped foster the Islamist rebellion after the more secular initial rebellion failed.

Had Ron Paul said this, a lot of commenters would be flinging poo right about now.

aryeung on April 19, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Thank God they were white!

exhelodrvr on April 19, 2013 at 8:56 PM

There are more issues with Russia than “silly nostalgia for the Cold War days,” and there is at least an argument that the Russian insistence on holding Chechnya helped foster the Islamist rebellion after the more secular initial rebellion failed. But Angus is right that Russia has been fighting the Islamists for a long time, which may be why the FBI took their request seriously enough to interview Tsarnaev, if the request actually came from Russia.

Don’t know if I can entirely agree with that… Russia has many problems and I’m no fan of Putin’s but release Chechnya and then what? A small autonomous state in their own backyard that willingly funds and fosters these sorts of terrorists.

This isn’t the IRA. This isn’t about land and freedom. What sort of land did they want out of Boston that caused these creeps to come and show their displeasure here? Were they sending a message to Russia by attacking us, a nation that has been covertly backing Chechen rebels to destabilize Russia since the Clinton administration.

No… Islamist terrorists are Islamist terrorists and if Putin has done one thing right it’s fighting this evil without mercy. I’m inclined to agree with AngusMc that it was Russia that gave us the tip, with perhaps an off-chance that it was Israel doing our job for us as they’ve had to so often these past 51 months.

Gingotts on April 19, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Twitter Feed Suggests Boston Marathon Terrorist Was An Obama Supporter

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 9:01 PM

I blame Bush.

aryeung on April 19, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Twitter Feed Suggests Boston Marathon Terrorist Was An Obama Supporter

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 9:01 PM

looks like a hoax twitter feed.

MechanicalBill on April 19, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Never mind. Sorry, misread that site.

MechanicalBill on April 19, 2013 at 9:19 PM

Here’s what’s coming…

Tamerlan was in contact directly or indirectly with Al-Awlaki, who was actively searching for people just like him – cleared entry, non-Arabic, passes for white.

The timeline builds itself.

Tamerlan went jihadi at the same time Al-Awlaki started building sleeper agents.

It only took this long for Tamerlan to strike, because he ended up on FBI radar two years ago, which is about when Al-Awlaki was killed.

budfox on April 19, 2013 at 9:21 PM

The idea that Russia is some sort of “natural ally” because they have been fighting Islamic terrorism for years is extremely naive. Almost Obama-worthy, in fact.

Russia fights Islamic terrorism at home, yes, but has still acted as a shield for Iraq, Iran and Syria. Remember the “reset” button? And the U.S. selling our missile defense in Europe? Tell me how that represents “silly nostalgia for the Cold War days” on the part of the U.S., or has mollified the Russians in any way.

Any student of Russian history knows that Russia has always viewed international politics as a zero sum game, and that no matter how much anyone tries to cooperate with them, they are invariably primarily interested in scoring points at everyone else’s expense.

HTL on April 19, 2013 at 9:22 PM

he’s captured.

keep the change on April 19, 2013 at 9:32 PM

he’s captured.

keep the change on April 19, 2013 at 9:32 PM

…now…let’s water-board him!

KOOLAID2 on April 19, 2013 at 9:44 PM

“religious politics”

LOL. Yeah, he was a member of the death-cult of islam; “religious politics” means killing people, and it is the main function of islam.

Pork-Chop on April 19, 2013 at 9:51 PM

So, how long before obama declares that the police “acted stupidly” in arresting his muslim comrade?

Pork-Chop on April 19, 2013 at 9:53 PM

looks like a hoax twitter feed.

MechanicalBill on April 19, 2013 at 9:17 PM

The tweets are from his old twitter feed.

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 9:57 PM

he’s captured.

keep the change on April 19, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Good.

Maybe this is stay in the news cycle longer as a result. Maybe there were others in on it. Maybe we will find out what terrorist ties they had.

Axion on April 19, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Someone had ordered that he not be read his Miranda rights. Someone way up the ladder…So that he may not incriminate himself and be fully lawyered up?

ndanielson on April 19, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Obama fails to stop Islamic terrorism from reaching US shores.

J_Crater on April 19, 2013 at 10:01 PM

The real story will be how well the FBI will dance when the facts come out. It is an even bet the reason they hesitated putting out good photos of the suspect wasn’t because they wanted to know who they were, but where they were.

They already figured out who. What they were doing was trying to figure out how to explain it.

http://truthandcommonsense.com/2013/04/19/why-is-upper-level-quiet-at-doj-cya-time/

Trust me, as my buddy pointed out before, the hesitation over releasing a GOOD photo of the suspects was not by accident. They knew. They also knew they had dealt with him before. It was a “Uh, boss, before you go out there and say something on video we can’t take back, can I offer up a suggestion? We might need to wait a little and get our act together about what we knew and what we didn’t do in case someday we are testifying in front of Congress. And I figure that’s a guarantee! ”

Some of the actions the feds took didn’t make sense to us who have some experience with those of us who handled investigations.

First, they had good photos but didn’t put them out right away. It could be because they were trying to find them through cellphones or intel. And maybe they didn’t want to turn it into what it turned into- a deadly rabbit chase. However, as we have now found out the two had more bombs and weren’t done planning attacks. So the question becomes do the feds let them bomb more while swimming around in circles, or put out their faces and hope for the best?

However, what if they already knew about the older brother. They had a file. They had a heads up from a foreign government. That’s not something to be dismissed lightly. It isn’t like an agent just decided to open a file on a hunch and found out it was bad lead. This was a case where a foreign agency- probably intelligence- contacted THEIR leaders who contacted OUR leaders…about the threat they felt was real from ONE person.

And they closed the file. After they did the subject became more and more radicalized and openly so. You would think even if the file was “closed” there would be some monitoring of a subject another country felt dangerous.

archer52 on April 19, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Boston Bombs: Obama Lulled America Into False Confidence Over Terror Threat

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 9:52

PM

And cut spending for bomb security.

ndanielson on April 19, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 9:01 PM

looks like a hoax twitter feed.

MechanicalBill on April 19, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Breitbart and Newsbusters has the story.

ndanielson on April 19, 2013 at 10:03 PM

looks like a hoax twitter feed.

MechanicalBill on April 19, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Several news agencies have tracked down a Twitter account which is believed to belong to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers whom the FBI has identified as the people responsible for a pressure cooker bomb which killed three people and injured nearly 150.

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 10:09 PM

bazil9 on April 19, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Try it now:

Pic of the Day: Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev & Bob Dylan… Just Sayin’

M2RB: Bob Dylan

Resist We Much on April 19, 2013 at 11:32 PM

The FBI failed us before 9/11. (Remember the captured “20th hijacker” and his computer they dared not examine?)

And now failed us again with the Boston bombing. (Not keeping an eye on a suspected alien Islamic radical after being warned and interviewing the proto-terrorist Tamerlan.)

Useless, gelded. p.c. crapzoids.

profitsbeard on April 20, 2013 at 1:37 AM

Note the final paragraph in that Breitbart article that Ed cites. The FBI seems to have become undermined, if not paralyzed by PC:

This is the latest in a pattern of late intelligence from the FBI. They missed the boat on 9/11; they had a bead on Major Hasan Nadal prior to his terror attack at Fort Hood; they even interviewed Carlos Bledsoe, man who murdered a soldier at a recruitment post in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009.

petefrt on April 20, 2013 at 9:35 AM

There are so many unanswered questions and now we have to add did the feds slow down the investigation to get someone’s azz covered?! This only adds to the pile of excrement covering our once beautiful capital. We all know the two mopes involved had to have help pulling this off. #1 didn’t learn bomb making in his engineering class at a community college.

Kissmygrits on April 20, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Note the final paragraph in that Breitbart article that Ed cites. The FBI seems to have become undermined, if not paralyzed by PC:

This is the latest in a pattern of late intelligence from the FBI. They missed the boat on 9/11; they had a bead on Major Hasan Nadal prior to his terror attack at Fort Hood; they even interviewed Carlos Bledsoe, man who murdered a soldier at a recruitment post in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009.

petefrt on April 20, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Not to worry. Plenty of cover to be afforded by the MSM. After all, this is a liberal WH.

socalcon on April 20, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Confirmation of what the FBI knew. First from the mother via Russia Today, now from the father via WSJ:

The boys’ father, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, said he was present when the FBI interviewed Tamerlan in Cambridge. He said they visited for what they called “prevention” activities. “They said: We know what sites you are on, we know where you are calling, we know everything about you. Everything,” Mr. Tsarnaev said.

Looks to me like FBI was all over this kid at one time, but something stopped them from acting on the info they clearly had.

Ft. Hood redux? Was it PC, or was it something else?

petefrt on April 20, 2013 at 11:11 AM

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