by Jerry Gordon (May 2013)
The Boston Marathon Massacre
Bostonians may be relieved that the week of terrorism perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers which began at 2:49PM April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon Finish Line ended dramatically on April 20, 2013 with the capture of surviving younger brother Dzhokhar. However, the nation is perplexed about why this heinous and cowardly act occurred and what can be done to prevent possible re-occurrences in America. 26 year old Tamerlan, a 6’ 3” tall aspiring boxer was mortally wounded in a hail of bullets in a shoot out in Watertown, Massachusetts early Friday morning, April 19, 2013. This followed the murder of an MIT police officer and carjacking of a Mercedes SUV. 19 year old younger brother Dzhokhar, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, survives. He was transferred to a prison medical facility after being initially treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 11 victims were also being treated there after two blasts tore through crowds of spectators at the finish line of the iconic Marathon.
His late brother Tamerlan’s remains were interred at the Al-Barzakh Cemetery in Doswell, Virginia located 15 miles from the state capital in Richmond on May 10, 2013. A controversy has been raised by local Caroline County officials with the Commonwealth Attorney General about whether the burial of the Boston Marathon Bomber was legal.
Those Boston Marathon blasts occurred less than 13 seconds apart at approximately 2:49 PM on Monday, April 15, 2013. They left a trail of deaths and destruction in what is now called the Boston Marathon Massacre involving three dead and more that 282 treated for injuries. Fourteen were severely maimed for life with missing limbs. The deaths caused by the Tsarnaev brothers include 8 year old Martin Richard, 29 year old Krystle Campbell and 23 year old Lu Lingzi, a Chinese national and Boston University graduate student. 26 year old MIT police officer Sean Collier was killed by the Tsarnaevs while in his patrol car in Cambridge. Richard Donahue, a 33 year old Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority police officer was also shot and critically wounded.
There is mounting evidence that the Tsarnaev brothers may also have been involved in a triple murder in suburban Waltham on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Preliminary indications from Middlesex County police and prosecutors conducting the unsolved murders have forensic evidence which matches with the Tsarnaev brothers.
In a dramatic scene, on Monday, April 22, 2013 Dzhokhar was read his Miranda rights in the company of a Federal District Court Judge, Marianne Bowler, an attending physician, Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney and Miriam Conrad, head of the Massachusetts Federal Public Defender’s office. Ms. Ortiz has had prior experience dealing with home grown jihadis having successfully convicted Tarek Mehanna of Sudbury, Massachusetts of plotting to kill US soldiers abroad. Ms. Conrad will nevertheless be a formidable opponent endeavoring to surface factors mitigating Dzhokhar’s role thus keeping him from being convicted for alleged use of weapons of mass destruction – the core of the charges entered against him bought by Ms. Ortiz.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Dzhokhar said that “the brothers were self trained and self indoctrinated, and were striking back at the US for killing Muslims.” The same rationale given by other home grown terrorists like Army Maj. Nidal Hassan who perpetrated the Fort Hood Massacre on November 5, 2009 and American Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, born Carlos Leon Bledsoe, who killed Army Pvt. Andy Long at a Little Rock, Arkansas recruitment center on June 1, 2009.
According to US House Intelligence Committee member, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) the Tsarnaev brothers had created a veritable arsenal of pipe bombs, hand grenades and improvised explosive devices like the pressure cooker ones used in the Boston Marathon attack and thrown at pursuing police during their getaway attempt. Clearly, the Tsarneav brothers had more murderous attacks in store for unwary innocents.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly commented that the Tsarneav brothers remarks about heading for New York “to party” may have been an indication that some of those improvised weapons were to be used to complete the failed attempt by Times Square bomber, Fawer Shahid. Both the Tsarnaev brothers and Shahid had one thing in common. They both ordered fireworks from the Phantom Fireworks chain that authorities believe detonated savagely at the Copley Square finish line for the Boston Marathon on April 15th. The New York Police Department’s formidable and robust counter-terrorism and intelligence divisions with liaison offices abroad has been taken to task by civil rights groups for allegedly violating the freedom to worship and privacy rights of Muslims through intrusive profiling and monitoring of radical mosques and Imams. Nevertheless, those means have foiled dozens of terrorist attempts and plots since 9/11 protecting New York City. One cannot say the same for the smaller Boston Police Department.
The mayhem wrought by the Tsarnaev brothers bespeaks of the well-known fanatic mentality that describes fellow citizens as kaffirs or unbelievers who are, in Islamic jihad doctrine, subject to death. The sang froid of these terrorists was on display in surveillance videos and photos of them sauntering in white and black baseball caps while they dropped backpacks laden with pressure cooker bombs laced with lethal shrapnel composed of nails and bb’s to maximize casualties. These were designed to cut a deadly swath through the unsuspecting Patriots Day Marathon spectators at the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square. Dzhokhar returned to the campus at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth chatting amiably with fellow students before rejoining his brother Tamerlan for a return to the jihad finale in Boston. Police investigators subsequently found one of the large Phantom Fireworks mortars stashed in his dorm room. Three classmates of Dzhokhar including two Kazakh students were arraigned as accessories after the fact for cleansing Dzhokhar’s dorm room of material evidence including a laptop and dumping it into a trash bin. Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov, and Robel Phillipos were charged on May 1, 2013 with “conspiracy to obstruct justice” and in the case of Philipos with making “false statements.” They face possible fines and upwards of five years in a federal prison upon conviction. The actions by the two Kazakh students at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth raised questions about enforcement and compliance with the Department of Homeland Security Student Visa program. DHS in response to the Boston police arrest and arraignment of the two Kazakh students issued immediate orders on May 4, 2013 for Custom and Border officials to determine that foreign students have valid student visas.
In this report, we shall explore why this domestic Jihad, perpetrated by refugees with Chechen Muslim origins from Russia’s troubled Caucasus, occured and the modalities of the alleged radicalization of the Tsarnaev brothers in the Boston Community. Why did the post 9/11 counter-terrorism intelligence system fail to detain Tamerlan Tsarnaev given Russian security requests for investigation prior to his sojourn in Dagestan? There is evidence that this is not an isolated phenomenon among Muslim refugees resettled in the U.S. It has been suggested that a moratorium must be imposed to prevent a reoccurrence of Jihad In America.
Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs
The Tsarnaev family is ethnic Chechen with origins in Islamist Dagestan in the northern Caucasus. This is a predominately Muslim region of Southern Russia that has a long history of violent suppression by Russian forces in two savage internal wars with separatists in the 1990’s and at the start of the 21st Century. The separatists were seeking to establish an independent Muslim Republic in the Caucasus. More than 30,000 to 40,000 Chechens were killed in those conflicts. Further, well over 300,000 Chechens were displaced internally in Russia and the EU. It is estimated that less than 1,000 came to the US as refugees with perhaps 200, including the Tsarnaevs, settling in the Boston area. The father, Ansor, and younger son Dzhokhar came to the US as tourists in 2002 applied for and were granted Asylum under the Refugee Act of 1980. That act facilitated family reunification under the P-3 Visa program of the US Department of State. Mother, Rubeidtsa, and daughters Ailina and Bella along with Tamerlan, the elder son, came in 2006. Tamerlan chose to remain here as a resident alien. They were granted generous taxpayer benefits and put on a fast track to obtaining US citizenship or green cards. A decade later on September 11, 2012 Dzhokhar became a US citizen.
Conflict between Russia and the Mountainous region of the northern Caucasus goes back to the Caucasian wars of the 19th Century from the 1817 to 1864 – a ferocious conflict that witnessed the ethnic cleansing of the Muslims Circassians who settled in the Ottoman Empire. Their descendents can be found among the leaders of Jordan’s Arab Legion and even a small community in Israel. Literary references to the Czarist Imperial Caucasian conflicts with Mountain tribes and clans, including Chechens, can be found in the literary works of Lermontov and Tolstoy. That conflict ended with the capitulation of Muslim separatist leader Imam Shamil who swore loyalty to the Czar.
The capital of Chechnya, Grozny, means ‘terrible’ in Russian, a reference to Czar Ivan Grozny (Ivan the Terrible).
Subsequent to the two Chechen Russian internal conflicts of the 1990’s and early 21st Century, Chechen separatists have continued with a series of dramatic terrorist actions.
Revenge by Chechen Muslim separatists wreaked havoc at a 2003 Moscow theater when 100 hostages succumbed to gas pumped in by Russian security forces. This was eclipsed by the horror of the 2004 Beslan school attack that witnessed over 1,000 parents and children held hostage with over 300 killed in a Spetznaz assault gone wrong. A series of attacks on the Moscow subway system by female Chechen suicide bombers in 2010 killed 40. A bombing attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport in January 2011 killed at least 35 people and injured dozens more.
Chechens are nominally Sufi Muslims. However, a number have been converted to Sunni Wahhabism. Both Saudi funding and Saudi jihadis who espouse global Jihad have enlisted Chechens. These Chechen Jihadists have participated in Al Qaeda and Taliban battles in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.
The Wall Street Journal cited a Swiss expert on Chechen terrorism who observed:
. . . there is a significant distinction between Chechens who back Chechen resistance to Russian rule and the much smaller group who have embraced global jihadi ideology.
“In these cases, the Chechen background is maybe a part of what leads them to do what they do,” said Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on Chechen militants at the Center for Security Studies in Zurich. A purely nationalist Chechen would have little reason to put a bomb at the Boston Marathon.”
The region's sharpest Muslim voice, disseminated through the website www.kavkazcenter.com, is that of the self-proclaimed Emirate of the Caucasus. This body, which exists only on the web but enjoys the loyalty of real fighters and commanders, aspires to hold authority in Islam's name over the whole north Caucasus, and perhaps beyond; and to wage unlimited war against infidel Russia. Using the language of ultra-militant jihad, it rejects all non-Muslim ideologies, from democracy to communism, and it lauds the Taliban's fight against Western forces in Afghanistan. However it has strongly denied any responsibility for the Boston attacks and alleged a Russian hand in the conspiracy.
Although it preaches Islam of the harsh Saudi variety, the Emirate excoriates the Saudi regime for being too friendly to the West; in this and other ways its rhetoric resembles al-Qaeda. Other targets for the Emirate's scorn include Westernized Chechen nationalists who lobby for the cause in America or Western Europe.
Radical Islamic Influences on the Brothers Tsarnaev
Both Tsarnaev brothers were athletic. The elder brother Tamerlan matriculated at nearby Bunker Hill Community College taking accounting courses but eventually dropped out to pursue a boxing career while perhaps being radicalized by a Muslim fundamentalist. He made the heavy weight New England Golden Gloves competition with aspirations of joining the US Olympics Boxing Team. He married an American Christian woman who converted. The couple has a three year old daughter, Zahara. He spent six months in the Russian provinces of Dagestan visiting his father and possibly receiving para-military training, including bomb making and tactics as a jihadi. Tamerlan was interviewed for 'extremist ties’ by the FBI in 2011 at the request of the Russians. They could find nothing at the time that warned them of his intent to commit jihad. He had also been arrested on a domestic abuse compliant filed by a girl friend in 2009. On his last trip to Dagestan in January 2012, Tamerlane came back sporting a beard, perhaps signifying his deepening commitment to Muslim fundamentalism. A YouTube page in his name had links to Islamic websites and videos from a radical Australian Muslim preacher, body builder and former boxer, Sheik Feiz Mohammad.
An International Business Times report on Mohammad’s influence on Tamerlan noted:
Feiz Mohammad, the radical preacher cited by dead Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is a former boxer who blames women for being raped and called for prominent Dutch politician [Geert Wilders] to be beheaded.
[. . .]
Although it is not known whether the hardline sheikh has any direct links to Al-Qaeda, he has regularly broadcast sermons from the group’s spiritual leader, the late Anwar al-Awlaki, on his website.
Dzhokhar became a competitive wrestler at the elite Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. At his graduation, the City of Cambridge awarded Dzhokhar a $2,500 scholarship to attend the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth where he majored in marine biology.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “a profile on the Russian social-networking site Vkontakte that appears to belong to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev includes a propaganda clip rallying jihadists to go to Syria to fight alongside rebels there, citing sayings from the Prophet Muhammad.” Andrew Bostom has pointed out in a Jewish Press article that “Tsarnaev was mentored (albeit only via e-mail correspondence) by a full-throated University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth apologist for so-called Chechen separatism, Brian Glyn Williams.”
The parents’ comments inferred that their sons were victims of a CIA plot. The mother Zubeitda was cited in a CNN report saying “that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims.” Zubeitda was arrested on a charge of shoplifting and malicious defacement at a suburban Natick, Massachusetts Lord & Taylors store in 2009. She is under an arrest warrant in Massachusetts for having missed a parole hearing in October 2012. She had returned to Makhachkala, Dagestan to rejoin her husband Ansor. Ansor, contacted in Dagestan by the AP, described Dzhorkar as a “true angel, who was studied medicine and must have been set up.” Sister Ailina in West New York, New Jersey told the Newark Star-Ledger, that “They were great people. I never would have expected it. They are smart – I don’t know what’s gotten into them.” The perpetrators’ uncle in Montgomery Village, Maryland, Ruslan Tsarni told the press, “I always told those two, Islam has always been there, just do your business. Work, go to school, and be useful. Know why you came to America, I am not sympathizing with them.” Uncle Ruslan last spoke with the Brothers in 2009.
Tolerance of Radical Islam may be the “Suicide Belt of Political Correctness”
In the wake of the shootout with the Tsarnaev brothers resulting in the death of Tamerlan and subsequent capture of Dzhokhar, the Boston Globe published an article in the Metro Section, “Islam might have had secondary role in Boston attacks.” The author, Ms. Lisa Wangness, paints a picture that Muslim extremist religiosity was only one thread in a complex tapestry of influences that may have driven the Tsarnaev brothers to commit their explosive Jihad on Patriots Day. She noted:
.. scholars cautioned Friday against concluding that the Tsarnaevs’ motives were purely religious. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a firefight with police early Friday morning, appeared to sympathize with Islamic extremists agitating for Chechen independence from Russia.
Powerline took issue with the Boston Globe article in a blog post. It cited a Los Angeles Times article on the Tsarnaevs attendance at the Islamic Center of Boston mosque in Cambridge near their apartment. The Times had no difficulty in finding members who recalled them.
At the Cambridge mosque near where the bombing suspects lived, two worshipers who showed up for Saturday’s prayer service recalled seeing both men.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of the mosque — the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center — about three months ago, after he stood up and shouted at the imam during a Friday prayer service, they said. The imam had held up slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of a man to emulate, recalled one worshiper who would give his name only as Muhammad.
Enraged, Tamerlan stood up and began shouting, Muhammad said.
“You cannot mention this guy because he’s not a Muslim!” Muhammad recalled Tamerlan shouting, shocking others in attendance.
“He’s crazy to me,” Muhammad said. “He had anger inside.… I can’t explain what was in his mind.”
Tamerlan was then kicked out of the prayer service for his outburst, Muhammad recalled. “You can’t do that,” Muhammad said of shouting at the imam.
Still, Tamerlan returned to Friday prayer services and had no further outbursts, Muhammad said.
It’s all so complex.
Dr. Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), in a Fox & Friends interview suggested that “Political Correctness may be our own suicide belt.” In the Fox News interview, Jacobs cites the extremist views of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center’s (ISBCC) radical Imam, William Sahib Webb, who was disinvited by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to speak at an Interfaith service at Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral. Both Governor Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had enthusiastically embraced the ISBCC Mosque at its opening in the Roxbury section of Boston in June 2009. See NER article, “Chelm on the Charles River.”
According to Jacob’s APT colleague, Ilya Feoktistov, both ISBCC Boston and Cambridge Mosque imams “were born and raised in the United States.” ISBCC’s imam William Sahib Webb is a former Oklahoma gang member, who converted to Islam in prison. Both were sent for training in the Middle East. Salafist imam Dr. Sheikh Basyouny of the Cambridge Mosque went to Medina University in Saudi Arabia. The ISBCC’s imam went to Cairo’s Al Azhar University. Sheikh Nehela sits on the board of the Boston ISBCC that is controlled by a Muslim Brotherhood front, the Muslim American Society (MAS). The MAS is one of several unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Dallas Federal Holy Land Foundation trial.
Fox & Friends interviewer Gretchen Carlson pointed out that one ISBCC trustee Abdulrahman Alamoudi is serving a 23 year sentence in a Federal prison convicted of being in a murder plot against the Saudi King and laundering funds for Al Qaeda. Jacobs also referred to another trustee, extremist Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian ‘spiritual leader’ Yusuf al Qaradawi. He was caught on video extolling anti-Semitic hatred during a Cairo Tahrir Square rally in February 2011 after returning from exile in Qatar. Jacobs has previously noted preachings by Qaradawi “that Jews should be killed, homosexuals should either be stoned or thrown off roofs, wives can be beaten, and Israel has to be destroyed.” Qaradawi supports Hamas and Hezbollah both listed as terrorist groups by our State Department. Jacobs also pointed out that an ISBCC website had lessons on how to beat your wife. Fox & Friends Carlson segued to Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s arrest in 2009 for domestic violence. Jacobs covered that and more in our February 2011 NER interview with him.
Were the Tsarneav Brothers Perpetrators of a Triple Murder In Suburban Waltham?
We inquired of the Middlesex County Massachusetts District Attorney about whether they had made a match between the forensic DNA samples found at the murder of three Jewish men that occurred on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and the Tsarnaev brothers. I was told that the matter was under investigation. An intrepid ABC free lancer, Michele McPhee, posted the stunning news that indeed possible matches of DNA samples had been indicated between the forensic evidence from the crime scenes and those of both Boston Jihadi bombers.
The ABC Investigative Team report by Michele McPhee on The Blotter, “Mounting Evidence' Boston Bombers Involved in 2011 Triple Murder”, noted:
Massachusetts investigators have developed what they call “mounting evidence,” bolstered by “forensic hits,” that point to the possible involvement of both Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar in a gruesome, unsolved triple homicide in 2011, law enforcement officials told ABC News .
In the wake of the Marathon bombings, Middlesex County began to probe a link between the elder Tsarnaev and Brendan Mess, one of the three men killed in the gruesome slaying on Sept. 11, 2011. Officials said Mess and two men were found in a Waltham residence with their throats slit and their bodies covered with marijuana. Tamerlan and Mess were once roommates and did boxing and martial arts training together.
The officials also said records of cell phones used by the Tsarnaevs appear to put them in the area of the murders on that date.
Who might have assisted Tamerlan in this ritualistic Islamic slaughter reminiscent of the fate of Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Danny Pearl? He was allegedly killed by 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheik Mohammed in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002. But this was Waltham, home of Brandeis University, attended by one of the three murdered Jews.
BuzzFeed Politics headlined this unfolding development on April 21st, “Boston Bomber’s” Former Friends Suspect Him in Triple Murder”.
They spoke with a friend of both Tamerlan and one of the victims, Brendan Mees who said:
“At the time none of us would have thought it was Tam. It was just so emotional, and we thought we had someone else who had done it. Tam’s name wasn’t coming up at all,” said one of their mutual friends, who asked to be identified by his first name, Ray.
Now “a few of my friends, without even speaking about it beforehand, have all been thinking” that Tsarnaev could have been connected to the 2011 murder of Mess and two others at Mess’ apartment, he said. Ray and Tsarnaev were both part of a social circle centered on the gym at which Tsarnaev trained and on a Boston hip-hop group called FlyRidaz, whose members expressed shock at having known the suspected killer.
[. . .]
“Tam wasn’t there at the memorial service, he wasn’t at the funeral, he wasn’t around at all,” Ray said. “And he was really close with Brendan. That’s why it’s so weird when he said, ‘I don’t have any American friends.’”
There is a curious observation about Tamerlan after his return from Dagestan in July 2012:
When Tsarnaev returned to the United States, Ray said a friend saw him out in public once and described him as “hollow.” But Mess’ younger brother continued to see Tsarnaev at the gym where they both trained. “Tam was with Brendan’s little brother a month ago,” he said.
Ray said none of his friends saw any “red flags” while they were friends with Tsarnaev, although he said some of them remember Tsarnaev making comments about the afterlife being glorified and disparaging remarks about Americans once or twice.
The ABC Investigative Unit Blotter report builds on the mounting forensic evidence that the victims in the grisly Waltham murders knew the perpetrators. The marijuana connections abound given evidence that the younger Tsarneav brother was perhaps involved in dealing marijuana at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth campus. Further, there were indications that older brother Tamerlan was a heavy user until he allegedly quit in 2008 and became increasingly religious and began attending the Cambridge Mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston.
Should there be a Moratorium on Muslim Student Visas?
Bob Beckel, the liberal panelist on Fox News, The Five stunned his fellow panelists with his comments regarding a moratorium on US visas for Muslim Students. He noted that more than 75,000 Muslims with student visas approved for study in this country. A minority of them never show up for classes creating a potential security risk.
Beckel’s suggestion took on immediate significance with the Boston police and arraignment of three UMass-Dartmouth classmates of surviving Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarneav, which included two Kazakhs. DHS in response to the Boston police arrest and arraignment of the two Kazakh student issued immediate orders on May 4, 2013 for Custom and Border officials to determine that foreign students have valid student visas.
The Washington Times article on Beckel’s Muslim student visa moratorium proposal noted his rationale:
The Five’s liberal co-host Bob Beckel doubled down on his statements that the federal government should temporarily suspend student visas for foreign Muslims.
“My point is not to suggest that there’s a cell of 70,000 people here. What I’m suggesting is that those students coming from those countries where [they] harbor resentment against the United States, if we could save one Boston Marathon event or one child’s life by saying we’re going to take a two-year hiatus from countries that we know do not like us and know from whence terrorism is coming,” the Fox News analyst told Megyn Kelly on America Live.
A Los Angeles Times article on the Boston arraignment of the three UMASS-Dartmouth students noted the difficulty of enforcement of the existing student Visa program administered by the DHS. The DHS is endeavoring to provide real-time background information on foreign students with visas to Custom and Border enforcement agents. The DHS is hoping to provide all Customs and Border agents with access to Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to check on passengers before they arrive in the United States by running names from the manifests through the database. However, how effective is the SEVIS system in screening for compliance by foreign students and attending schools?
A GAO study of the SEVIS program noted that “as of January 2012, more than 850,000 active foreign students were in the United States enrolled at over 10,000 U.S. schools.”
Among the GAO report findings that raised concerns over DHS’ ability to rely on the SEVIS system to screen foreign students were:
ICE reported that it has withdrawn at least 88 schools since 2003 for noncompliance; however, ICE has not evaluated schools’ withdrawals to determine potential trends from their noncompliant actions because case information is not well organized according to SEVP officials.
Without a process to analyze risks, it will be difficult for ICE to provide reasonable assurance that it is addressing high risk vulnerabilities and minimizing noncompliance.
Probably the most damaging of the GAO assessments went to the matter of Flight Schools that figured prominently in 9/11 perpetrator training for their deadly mission. It noted:
GAO found that approximately 167of 434 (or 38 percent) SEVP certified flight schools do not have the required certification as of December 2011. As of March 2012 SEVP has recertified 1,870 (or 19 percent) of certified schools.
Clearly, the SEVP has enormous hurdles to clear before it can track foreign students, let alone address Beckel’s suggestion to implement a moratorium on visas for Muslim students.
Who dropped the intelligence ball that might have stopped Tamerlan and his brother?
Mike Rogers (R-MI) Chair of the House Intelligence Committee held hearings on how Tamerlan Tsarneav could have slipped through the network of counterterrorism databases in the US and in Russia that might have prevented the Boston Marathon Massacre. Rogers is a former FBI agent and knows how the bureau goes about its counterterrorism tasks. He noted at the conclusion of the Hearing:
The information Russia withheld would have allowed the bureau to open an investigation where you could track [Mr. Tsarnaev's] communications. To me, that's where the ball really got dropped.”
Blaming the Russian Federation Security Bureau (FSB) may absolve the CIA, FBI, Treasury and National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) of culpability in the failure to halt Tamerlan and his younger brother. According to the Los Angeles Times, five days before the attack the Boston Regional Intelligence Center produced an 18 page report on the vulnerability of the Marathon finish line. That report went to local police and regional counterterrorism groups. No security measures were put in place by the Boston Police Department to cordon off the area. Against the backdrop of the BRIC report squabbles among US and Russian counterterrorism groups doesn’t square.
The 9/11 Commission in its report found that lapses in effective communications of critical intelligence might have prevented the 9/11 al Qaeda plot in America. It suggested coordinating information sharing between the CIA and FBI and centralizing counter-terrorism information. The latter created the NCTC. The focus of the NCTC is foreign terrorist threats and presumably information from both US and foreign intelligence sources. The NCTC maintains the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment or TIDES system which has over 745,000 names. An AP report indicates “that entries with a full name, date of birth and intelligence indicating a reasonable suspicion that a person is a terrorist or has terror ties, the person's name is sent to a terror watch list, which feeds into lists like the one that bans known or suspected terrorists from traveling on planes.” The CIA added Tamelan’s name to TIDES. Because jurisdictional walls existed between the CIA and FBI, the domestic information is not synched up with the databases of the NCTC and other domestic agencies like DHS and the Treasury. And if it is, it is only in piecemeal fashion. The Tsarnaev case illustrated a classic intelligence kluge among the CIA, FBI and the Russian Security service in which some early information was conveyed about Tamerlan and his mother’s rising Islamic Jihad expression. These were based on FSB intercepts of text messages with relatives in Dagestan. It is alleged that there may have been another layer of insufficient communication between the Dagestan FSB and the FSB counterterrorism unit in Moscow.
In the Tsarneav family case, there was evidence of early communication about radical Jihadist sentiments in 2011 that prompted the Russian FSB to make contact with the FBI. Based on a Wall Street Journal article about the intelligence problem, here are the sequence of events and miscues.
In 2011, Russia sent an alert to the FBI about alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, prompted in part by text messages between his mother and a Russian relative. The texts suggested Mr. Tsarnaev was interested in joining militant groups that Russia blames for attacks in the Caucasus region, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigations.
U.S. officials call these text messages the most important in a series of missed signals between the two countries. One U.S. official characterized at least one of the text messages as generally discussing jihad, but without any specific mention of terrorism plans.
[. . .]
On March 4, 2011, the Russian security service sent a formal request via the U.S. embassy in Moscow asking the FBI to look into Mr. Tsarnaev, U.S. officials said. At that time, the Russians didn't mention the texts and made reference only to Mr. Tsarnaev's interest in joining “underground” groups, a term that to U.S. ears could suggest political opposition, Dagestan officials said.
The Russian request was forwarded to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston. There, FBI field agents and other officials translated the letter and worked to identify Mr. Tsarnaev based on U.S. immigration and other records.
Once they had identified Mr. Tsarnaev, a U.S. Customs agent entered his name into a Treasury terrorism database. That system, known as the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, sends alerts to U.S. security officials when someone in the system is, say, preparing to travel by air.
Five days later, FBI asked the Russian FSB, for more information and received no response, one U.S. official said. Officials say the information from Ms. Tsarnaeva's texts would have allowed them to get wiretapping authority.
The FBI conducted a standard 90-day inquiry, including searches of public databases, its own files, and those of other agencies, as well as a voluntary interview, U.S. officials said. Mr. Tsarnaev provided his correct birth date, which was different from the two provided by the Russians.
Under FBI guidelines, any suspicious activity could have prompted a preliminary or even a full investigation. Agents found none and the FBI closed the case in June.
On Aug. 8, the FBI made another attempt to get additional information from the FSB, and received no response, a U.S. official said.
In late September, the FSB sent an identical request to the CIA through the U.S. embassy in Moscow, officials said. The CIA didn't find anything of concern and referred the information to the FBI because Mr. Tsarnaev was a legal U.S. resident. The FBI made its third request to the FSB for more information Oct. 7.
A few days before Mr. Tsarnaev's Jan. 12, 2012, Aeroflot flight to Russia, a U.S. Customs official in the Boston task force received an alert from the Treasury database that he was planning a trip, but took no action because he wasn't seen as a danger.
Russian security services, however, had Mr. Tsarnaev in their sights. . . Dagestani officials say he tried to build contacts with radical rebel groups in the region, and met with one Islamist fighter.
U.S. authorities heard none of this, Dagestani officials said. The monitoring of Mr. Tsarnaev was the responsibility of regional security officers, who are barred from contacting the FBI or CIA directly. When officers in Makhachkala need information from the U.S., they are directed to pass the request through Moscow.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said knowledge of the intercepted messages “would have been good enough to re-examine the individual.”
Given the information, Tamerlan might have been detained on his re-entry to the US from sojourn in Dagestan, as a person of interest. The report of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center on vulnerability of the Boston Marathon finish line to attack could have prompted further preventive actions by the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police in conjunction with the race organizers. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, this tragedy which could have been prevented looks like 9/11 in microcosm all over again.
Islamic Terrorists Manipulate Asylum System
Ann Corcoran of the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog discussed how the Tsarnaev family entered the US under the State Department Asylum and Family Reunification programs.
In the case of Asylum, they get in with a tourist visa or come illegally across our borders and ask for asylum. With the refugee program we pick them up abroad and fly them here. Both programs are part of the Refugee Act of 1980. Federale (at VDARE) notes that the supposed persecution refugees and asylum seekers claim is often a lie because so often we see supposedly fearful “refugees” going “home” sometimes just to visit. . . .
The Tsarnaev aunt in Toronto, interviewed on Canadian TV, said she [prepared] the refugee paperwork for mom and dad in 2002, they got in. Then under refugee family re-unification program, the two jihadist sons, and two daughters entered the US.
Corcoran further noted the magnitude of both Muslim and Russian resettlement under the State Department program:
Each year the Refugee Resettlement Program admits on average 70,000 refugees, many from Muslim countries and territories. Our Russian resettlement has been huge. Recall the large Russian Jewish immigration of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
In 2002, 9,978 Russians or those from former Soviet Union countries were given permanent residency status. How many Chechens—only the US State Department can say for sure.
She further notes that the Tsernaev brothers were not “the first terrorists to get into the US through the refugee program, remember the Iraqi refugee terrorists in Kentucky.”
In a day long US Senate immigration reform hearing on April 24, 2013 testimony from Janice Kephart, former legal counsel to the 9/11 Commission presented testimony on the defects in our asylum system that has allowed terrorists to use this country as a venue of convenience. Ms. Kephart is a National Security Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Center for Immigration Studies and a noted border security expert. She provided testimony on The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744 before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Washington Free Beacon reported on these aspects of Kephart’s Senate testimony, in an article, “Extremists Manipulate Asylum System, Expert Says”:
Kephart. . . testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that current asylum policy fails to screen for and deport foreign-born immigrants to America with affiliations to terrorist groups.
“Political asylum claims usually permit terrorists to do what they seek: buy time to live here freely,” Kephart said in prepared testimony.
[. . .]
Kephart identified more than a dozen instances of asylum being used to keep immigrants with ties to extremist organizations in the United States between the early 1990s and 2005.
Among those cases cited by Kephart were:
Syrian national Daoud Chehazeh came to the United States from Saudi Arabia in 2000. He was granted asylum in November 2012 after three failed attempts and despite reports that he facilitated travel for the 9/11, hijackers and had contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the former leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed in 2011 by a drone strike in Yemen.
Ramzi Yousef, architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a nephew of Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, also used asylum status to remain in the United States prior to his successful attack, Kephart said. Yousef is currently serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the first Trade Center bombing.
Nuradin Abdi, a Somali national, received asylum in 1999. He was convicted in September 2007 of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
My work on the 9/11 Commission made it clear that terrorists need travel documents for movement at some point during their journey here as much as they need weapons for operations. Once within U.S. borders, terrorists seek to stay.
It was revealed April 22, 2013 that the FBI had been unaware of a trip one of the Boston bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, made to Russia in 2011 because his name in a computer database was misspelled.
Senator Charles Schumer (D., NY), one of the architects of the immigration reform, asked Kephart whether the bill’s requirement that passports be swiped at entry to and exit from the United States would have made it easier for the government to track Tsarnaev’s travel.
“Yes,” Kephart said.
Can Refugee Jihadism Lead to Reform of US Resettlement Programs?
The unfolding events of the Boston Marathon Massacre have produced evident abuses of the Refugee Resettlement programs of the US State Department and Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. The Tsarneav brothers and family were granted asylum, and family reunification. They were generously supported with state welfare and Medicaid benefits and educated at an elite public high school, community colleges and state universities. Then there was evidence of abuses in the Student Visas of Kazakh accomplices after the fact that may have purposefully destroyed evidence in the dorm room of Dzhorkar Tsarneav.
Perhaps the most flagrant recent example of abuses of the asylum system was the fraud committed by a Tunisian jihadi, Ahmed Abassi. Abassi was implicated in the alleged radicalization of a fellow Tunisian apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a foiled Canadian railway bombing plot. Abassi has been arrested and was allegedly planning to release a bacterial agent in a major municipal water system hoping to kill upwards of 100,000 Americans. US Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan Preet Bahara said at the arraignment of Abassi, “had an evil purpose for seeking to remain in the United States – to commit acts of terror and develop a network of terrorists here, and to use this country as a base to support the efforts of terrorists internationally.”
We have written extensively about one group of refugees, the Somalis. There has been documented evidence of fraud in the family reunification program committed by Somalis in African refugee camps. These resulted in shutdown of the Department of State family re-unification program for three years.
Then there was the recruitment of Somali youths from the US to fight for the establishment of an Islamist Caliphate in war-torn Somalia with the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab. (See our NER Article, Foot Soldiers of Islam).
Recently, the Federal District Court in Minneapolis held a sentencing hearing on the conviction of 9 Somali refugees engaged in recruitment of refugee Jihadis and funding of al Qaeda affiliate, al Shabaab. Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch noted in a post on this event, studiously avoided by the mainstream media. Note this excerpt from the La Crosse Tribune, newspaper:
Authorities say more than 20 young men have left Minnesota to join al-Shabaab since 2007. Some have died, several remain at large, and others have been prosecuted in what the FBI has said is one of the largest efforts to recruit U.S. fighters for a foreign terrorist organization.
In 2007, small groups of young Somali men began holding secret meetings at a Minneapolis mosque, in cars, and at restaurants to talk about returning to their homeland to wage jihad against Ethiopians. The Ethiopians had been brought into Somalia in 2006 by its weak U.N.-backed government, but were viewed by many Somalis as invaders.
Al-Shabaab recruiters in Minneapolis appealed to patriotic ideals and told young men, some in their teens, that it was their “duty” to return to Somalia and fight. Recruiters also quoted from the Quran, appealing to religious beliefs to deepen the fighters’ resolve.
The men began leaving Minnesota in small groups to avoid detection, with the first departing Minneapolis on Oct. 30, 2007. Additional groups left in waves over the next months and years, with some raising money for their trips under false pretenses.
The FBI began investigating in 2008. The U.S. declared al-Shabaab a terrorist organization in early 2008.
Read it all here.
We noted over five years ago, the abuses of the US refugee resettlement program and control exerted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees under the aegis of the Refugee Act of 1980. (See NER Article, “Why Is The UN Determining Who Becomes Humanitarian Refugees In The US?”)
On May 15, 2013 the Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration held its annual hearing on the refugee resettlement program. Corcoran drew our attention to a letter written by a former member of the International Refugee Committee (IRC), Boston office sent to Ann Richard. She is Assistant Secretary at the US State Department responsible for management of the Refugee Resettlement Program. The IRC is one of a number of Voluntary Agencies or “Volags” working as contractors in the refugee resettlement program. The author, Michael Sirois, presents ample justification for a moratorium. Here are some excerpts:
I worked for the IRC in several capacities from 1980 until 2004 (caseworker, deputy director of the Boston office). In 2004, amid increasing budget constraints, I volunteered for a lay off. At the time, my heart was still into the work I loved and I continued to volunteer for two additional years, spending 3 days a week working on the family reunification program, in which I was considered an “expert.”
Early on, I grew familiar with the fraud that was rampant throughout the program, from the refugees themselves (sometimes forgivable), the overseas OPE’s (not forgivable) and on up to the UN (most unforgivable). Most of my colleagues were also aware of it, and while they often joked about it, almost no one did anything to change or challenge it.
In our work, it was all about “getting the numbers,” often at the expense of legitimate screening for “real” refugees.
[. . .]
My major concern was helping people re-unite with close and legitimate family members whose relationship I believed to exist in fact. I can’t tell you how many times, after resettlement that those relationships were revealed to be fraudulent. Sometimes the reasons were understandable from a human kindness point of view (claiming an orphaned niece as a sister), but often those “relationships” were simple financial transactions.
In my long years at the IRC, I assisted many ethnic groups. I can say without reservation that the Somalis were among the most duplicitous.
[. . .]
All of us in the field know just how weak the “security screening” was. It’s mostly a very poor and ineffective system of simple name checks from countries that for the most part keep no records.
[. . .]
It is time for a moratorium on refugee resettlement until ORR and the volags get their act together.
[. . .]
The present program is really a “resettle and dump on the community” thing. This is not fair to the communities, the refugees or the volags.
Refugees are not assimilating for the most part. Some argue that refugees should not “assimilate” but “integrate” but, to me, it‘s all the same, since the majority do neither.
[. . .]
After 9/11, I was, as always, very vocal in defense of refugees and the US refugee program, convinced that no one admitted under the program could possibly be or become a terrorist. Regrettably, my mind has changed.
I do think the US should continue to receive some refugees, but it needs to be a much smaller and very carefully monitored program.
The current one is a huge mess and a danger to our security and a detriment to our economy and society.
If you believe that the US Senate in its rush to produce an omnibus Immigration Reform bill has taken the time to examine these patent and dangerous abuses of our US Refugee Resettlement Program guess again. Corcoran noted that S. 744, “provides more funding for resettlement contractors and makes it easier for a greater number and variety of refugees/asylum seekers to gain admission to the US.”
In the light of a long trail of abuses, citizens should request that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the “gang of eight” Senators conduct hearings on the Refugee Resettlement Program before continuing this threat to our national security.
Clearly, the Boston Jihad Massacre is evidence that the Refugee Resettlement Program controlled by the UN has become a clear and present danger to our National Security.
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