He did? We certainly suspect this might be the case, given Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s unusual six-month sojourn to Dagestan and Chechnya, but, er … no one has actually established that as fact. At least judging by media reports, the current case theory postulates that Tsarnaev self-radicalized, and apparently approached bombmaking with the same auto-didactic enthusiasm. And yet, Secretary of State John Kerry told a Brussels press conference that Tsarnaev got radicalized in the Caucasus and came back to blow people up in Boston:
The question from the reporter, according to a transcript provided by the State Department, was, “Sir, with the problem we have that young people go to Syria (inaudible), does that matter also to the U.S., do you have the same problem?”
“Well, of course we have the same problem. We just had a young person who went to Russia, Chechnya, who blew people up in Boston. So he didn’t stay where he went, but he learned something where he went and he came back with a willingness to kill people,” said Kerry.
“I think the world has had enough of people who have no belief system, no policy for jobs, no policy for education, no policy for rule of law, but who just want to kill people because they don’t like what they see. There’s not room for that. That’s what we’ve been fighting against after all of the wars of the 20th century. Now we’re in the 21st century, and it’s time for a different organizational principle. And we need to, all of us, do a better job of communicating to people what the options of life are. And we’re open. Democracies are open to people participating in the democracy, not killing people. And so I hope that we can all figure out how we translate these better opportunities more effectively in our politics.”
You see, this is why government officials should exercise restraint when discussing criminal cases. It’s not just that their comments might be seen as unfairly prejudicial, which is certainly one rational concern, but also that they end up sounding like idiots.
This may have escaped the notice of America’s top diplomatic officer, but American officials are only now flying to Dagestan to start investigating exactly what Tamerlan did on his sabbatical:
Investigators want to know what Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the eldest brother, did in Dagestan, a restive region in southern Russia that is home to an Islamist insurgency, during a six month visit in 2012. Specifically they want to know if Tamerlan, who began linking to Islamic extremist web videos on YouTube after the trip, met any radicals or militants during his trip.
They’re coming from the US embassy? Shouldn’t the Secretary of State be informed of what happens at our embassies?
It’s more than possible that the investigators will find exactly what Kerry claims, but shouldn’t we wait until they actually find it first? It hardly seems diplomatic to publicly blame Russia (and Dagestan and Chechnya are still part of Russia) for radicalizing Tsarnaev without some solid evidence first.