Video: Did Tsarnaevs finance bomb plot with drug sales?

posted at 10:41 am on April 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

CBS News reported last night that investigators believe that the unemployed Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have financed his terrorist plot through the sale of marijuana — an interesting occupation for a fanatical Muslim.  The composition of the bomb has come into clearer focus as well.  The triggering device came from a remote-control car, and the fed still think the gunpowder may have come from fireworks.

Most interesting, though, is the acknowledgment that the Tsarnaevs only had one firearm on them during their gunfight with police:

The search through landfills should remind us that bombers need quite a bit of practice in order to get a device that works properly. Even a trained bomber, like the Times Square terrorist, can easily screw one up. That’s one reason why Tamerlan’s six-month sojourn to Dagestan should be interesting to investigators. If Tamerlan wasn’t testing his pressure-cooker devices here, either he was extraordinarily lucky on his first try — or he got training elsewhere. There aren’t that many places in the Boston region where a bomber could test his designs without attracting a lot of notice.

Also, if Tamerlan was selling marijuana to finance his terrorist plot — or even just to make some cash — it might shed a new light on the 2011 triple homicide, whose victims included Tamerlan’s one-time best friend.  Brendan Mess sold pot, too, and homicide detectives assumed that drugs had been the cause of a dispute that got out of hand.  The New York Daily News makes the connection as well:

Friends of the ex-Golden Gloves boxer have openly speculated Tamerlan may have been involved in a grisly triple homicide two years ago involving one of his close friends. The unsolved case continues to stump investigators in the Boston suburb of Waltham, where Tsarnaev’s friend, 25-year-old Brendan Mess, was found murdered Sept. 12, 2011, in his apartment.

Mess, along with two other men, had their throats slit by either an ice pick or knife, and their bodies were covered in marijuana. The attack was made even more bizarre after police said $5,000 was left at the blood-splattered scene.

A couple of points don’t fit, though.  It was just three months later that Tamerlan left for Dagestan.  Why bail out of an operation so soon after getting rid of the competition, if indeed that’s what happened?  Why leave $5,000 behind, too, if you need financing for a terrorist plot — especially cash that couldn’t be easily traced?

The father of the two bombers will fly back to the US this week to claim the elder son’s body, according to a local CBS affiliate.  Anzor Tsarnaev also pledged to cooperate with the investigation:

The Boston Marathon bombing suspects’ father has planned to travel to the U.S. within the next two days, possibly to claim the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Anzor Tsarnaev told reporters in the Dagestan province of Russia, where he and his wife reside, he would be leaving Thursday or Friday, the Associated Press reported. The mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, reportedly has not decided if she will make the trip; she was charged with felony shoplifting in Massachusetts a year ago, before the family moved overseas.

The father said he would cooperate with the FBI in the ongoing investigation, according to CNN. Federal authorities went to Russia Wednesday for face to face interviews with the parents.

US officials offered to exempt the mother from arrest if she returned for interviews and the trial of her younger son. Zubeidat may return temporarily, but blames the US for all her misfortunes:

The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects told reporters in southern Russia on Thursday that she regretted ever moving her family to the United States, as her husband said he would travel to the U.S. later in the day to see his surviving son.

“Why did I even go there?” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said through tears after CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata asked her if she regretted the move.

“America took my kids away from me,” she declared through tears, saying she wished she had remained in a village in the southern Russian region of Dagestan instead of emigrating to Boston in 2002.

Tsarnaeva was adamant that police arrested her elder son alive and that he died later in custody. Says said she saw video of him on internet, referring to an amateur video which showed a man stripped of most of his clothing being taken into custody on the day of Tamerlan’s death and Dzhokhar’s eventual arrest.

“What have you done to my son? Why did they have to kill him?” the emotional mother asked during the news conference. She was vague when asked who she believed was behind the conspiracy she claims set her kids up.

On that note, let’s give the last word to the editorial board of the Washington Post, via Instapundit, which asks whether the FBI is focused enough on the real bad guys:

LAW ENFORCEMENT agencies can’t be expected to stop every terrorist attack, any more than they can prevent every mass shooting. If, as most investigators now appear to believe, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev acted on their own with a bomb design downloaded from the Internet, their plot posed a steep challenge to those agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for detecting threats.

Nevertheless, there are reasons for concern about the two agencies’ performance, based on what is known so far about their tracking of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The older and more radical brother was first identified as a possible extremist by Russia, which asked the FBI to investigate him in early 2011. Later that year, also after prompting from Russia, the CIA asked that his name be added to a watch list maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, The Post’s Greg Miller and Sari Horowitz reported. His subsequent departure for Russia in early 2012 resulted in “a ping” to customs officials, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress on Tuesday. However, it appears the FBI never learned that Tamerlan had left the country and was not informed when he returned in July. …

As we said, not every plot by terrorists can be detected. Respect for civil liberties means that not everyone who visits a jihadist Web site or is the subject of an inquiry by another government can be placed under permanent surveillance. But it’s worth asking whether the FBI’s methods for identifying and following up on threats need refinement.


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CBS News reported last night that investigators believe that the unemployed Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have financed his terrorist plot through the sale of marijuana — an interesting occupation for a fanatical Muslim.

As long as he doesn’t sell to other Muslims, he’s good.

unclesmrgol on April 25, 2013 at 10:44 AM

It was just three months later that Tamerlan left for Dagestan.

My guess is he was freaking out and needed some distance.

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Nice muslim boys like these, involved in illicit drug sales?

Shocking!

and unexpected.

The search through landfills should remind us that bombers need quite a bit of practice in order to get a device that works properly.

I’m surprised the boys didn’t go immediately to the mosque and have an after action briefing with their imam so future activists can gain from their experience.

/s

hawkeye54 on April 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Big Sis can’t get a new “pinging” machine because sequester…dontchaknow.

d1carter on April 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Works for the Taliban in Afghanistan. So why not here? Face it — it saves on having to provide logistical support for the sleeper cells.

platypus on April 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

an interesting occupation for a fanatical Muslim

Never heard of al-Hassan ibn-al-Sabbah?

The Persian Ismailia sect?

The origin of the word assassin?

All Moslem.

Hash…(and grass)…pretty much a part of mohammedan history for centuries.

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

US officials offered to exempt the mother from arrest if she returned for interviews and the trial of her younger son. Zubeidat may return temporarily, but blames the US for all her misfortunes:

Given her statements, about a country that took her in and gave her family opportunities, I’m not going to let her go on a felony charge. Step foot in her and be arrested, tried and if convicted, serve her time then be deported and permanently barred from entering this country.

rbj on April 25, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Hash…(and grass)…pretty much a part of mohammedan history for centuries.

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Don’t forget Afghanistan opium poppies.

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

UMass students have said that White Hat dealt weed on campus Used it as well.
Makes sense that his source was speedbump.

Jabberwock on April 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

US officials offered to exempt the mother from arrest if she returned for interviews and the trial of her younger son. Zubeidat may return temporarily, but blames the US for all her misfortunes:

Return temporarily?? Nah, if she returns, there’s probably no getting rid of her. I mean we can’t just willfully and deliberately separate mother and son once she comes back here. That would be unjust.

/s

hawkeye54 on April 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM

As we said, not every plot by terrorists can be detected. Respect for civil liberties means that not everyone who visits a jihadist Web site or is the subject of an inquiry by another government can be placed under permanent surveillance. But it’s worth asking whether the FBI’s methods for identifying and following up on threats need refinement.

Notice the gracious, forgiving nature of the WaPo’s statement. I dare say they never had such utterances and understanding with the previous administration.

What we have here is a very unique set of facts. I hate to rain on the WaPo’s sophism, but there were multiple opportunities, besides visiting a “jihadi” website to catch these individuals.

What worked to our detriment and ultimately led to the deaths and maimings in Boston was the feckless, dangerous liberal multicultural/immigration agenda. An agenda that put the “feelings” and “sensitivities” of terrorist above the safety of our citizens.

People have now paid for that foolishness with their lives and limbs. You might hope that would cause a rethinking of the issue by liberals. But alas, they have instead doubled-down to ensure future danger to our populace.

Marcus Traianus on April 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Afghanistan and poppies come to mind.

fourdeucer on April 25, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Don’t forget Afghanistan opium poppies.

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Sorry sir, I didn’t see your comment.

fourdeucer on April 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Gov. Patrick is blocking access to their public assistance records. Did they use Obamaphones to plan their attack? We’ll never know.

RedRedRice on April 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM

The Washington post is carrying water for Obama in a way it never would have for Bush.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53548-2004Jun18.html

unclesmrgol on April 25, 2013 at 11:03 AM

If you are engaged in jihad you can do whatever is necessary to get the job done.

Wigglesworth on April 25, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Zubeidat return?

You’ve got to be kidding?

For what purpose?

Unless she was part of the criminal conspiracy leading to the bombings…what can she possibly provide?

Temporary?

Like these fine upstanding Boston folks?

Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Oyango?

Well known illegals…both in Boston…still here…

They must know somebody.

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 11:06 AM

First, missed cash doesn’t mean they didn’t take other cash. Assuming they are involved at all. Happens all the time.

Second, I’m not sure that there was only one gun. I thought the photos of the shootout showing both suspects had guns. Didn’t the one witness say the younger brother was firing as he fled? And didn’t the police say the older brother was shooting?

But a bigger question should be asked. How did the older brother get the money to travel so far for so long?

archer52 on April 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM

My guess is the fireworks may have been part of it at one time, but wouldn’t it make more sense to use them as tests for the detonators?

Remember, the younger one said to his friends he was popping off fireworks a while back.

No way they didn’t check out that kind of detonators. Even guys who know who know what they are doing test it.

archer52 on April 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

archer52 on April 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM

The First United Bank of Jihad and Falafel Stand?

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

No bias here

Msdnc focuses camera on dear leader CNN focuses on the speaker condi rice

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Holy cow…. the bias on msdnc
Totally focused on dear leader while the other stations are showing speakers and such

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Why let the Mother back in here? She sounds more like a candidate for a drone strike.

trigon on April 25, 2013 at 11:24 AM

A couple of points don’t fit, though. It was just three months later that Tamerlan left for Dagestan. Why bail out of an operation so soon after getting rid of the competition, if indeed that’s what happened? Why leave $5,000 behind, too, if you need financing for a terrorist plot — especially cash that couldn’t be easily traced?

It wasn’t about getting rid of the competition.

He killed them, took enough cash to take care of his kid and siblings, gave a large enough stash to his brother for resale, and buy his plane ticket.

Don’t forget, at this point Tamerlan was already contacted by the Feds at least once, so he was beginning to feel boxed in.

budfox on April 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

She sounds more like a candidate for a drone strike.

trigon on April 25, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Apparently, they can do that here, now.

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

It takes a lot of money to support this kind of lifestyle: You Too Can Dress Like a Russian Pimp

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2013 at 11:31 AM

You Too Can Dress Like a Russian Pimp

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Just a couple wild and crazy guys.

At least Speedbump was a better dresser.

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 11:36 AM

The MSM – running interference for criminals daily!

kirkill on April 25, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Holy cow…. the bias on msdnc
Totally focused on dear leader while the other stations are showing speakers and such

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 11:20 AM

What — you mean it’s not all about Obama?

Liam on April 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Here’s one: MA Gov. Patrick has shut down further investigation into how much welfare money Speedbump got, citing ‘right to privacy’.

Right to privacy for dead terrorists? My, how progressive!

Liam on April 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I find very puzzling that the best friend of a known-suspected terrorist is murdered in a manner known to be a favorite method of Muslim extremists and the guy isn’t a primary suspect. He was known to have a violent streak and was prone to violence. Then he he skips town. No pings anywhere about this??? Also the date of the murders leaves curious. Where’s Lt Columbo when you need him? For that matter, where’s Barney Fife?

jaywemm on April 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM

A couple of points don’t fit, though. It was just three months later that Tamerlan left for Dagestan. Why bail out of an operation so soon after getting rid of the competition, if indeed that’s what happened? Why leave $5,000 behind, too, if you need financing for a terrorist plot — especially cash that couldn’t be easily traced?

Yeah. The triple murder fits neither with the selling drugs nor as a fight over territory.

The big question is: Was the cannoli taken? If Tamerlan did the murders then it was either execution because Mess was helping Tamerlan’s little brother sell drugs, or it was to get cred as a terrorist to ingratiate himself with an Chechen organization that would give him some training.

Dusty on April 25, 2013 at 12:17 PM

She sounds more like a candidate for a drone strike.

trigon on April 25, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Apparently, they can do that here, now.

With full approval of our Imperial President, Barry. Like Nixon, he has his own enemies list for our DoJ to act upon. I’m sure he’s eager to try out this exciting new technology some day. Soon, perhaps.

/s

hawkeye54 on April 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM

It takes a lot of money to support this kind of lifestyle: You Too Can Dress Like a Russian Pimp

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Just because one can, doesn’t mean one should.

hawkeye54 on April 25, 2013 at 12:55 PM

That’s the AQ way. Opium, etc. has funded many a terrorist dream.

EdmundBurke247 on April 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM