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The Jihadist that Inspired the Boston Marathon Bombers!

Interesting Article: "Boston Bombing Suspect Traveled to Russia Through NYC Last Year" by Jonathan Dienst and Simon Prokupecz/ Boston published Friday, April 19th, 2013

My thoughts and prayers are with the Boston Marathon explosion victims and their families. Thanks to the police, fire fighters, our great citizens and other public servants courageously responding to this horrific event. God Bless the citizens of Boston and let god provide us the knowledge to go after those responsible for this brutal act.

An interesting article mentioned that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev flew in and out of John F. Kennedy Airport last year and was out of the country for six months, and investigators said they want to know if he received any terror training while he was overseas, NBC 4 New York has learned. Travel records obtained by NBC 4 New York show Tsarnaev left New York on Jan. 12, 2012 for Sheremetyevo, Russia.  He stayed overseas and returned to JFK on July 17. Why would he go to Russia? Who are Chechnya’s terrorists? What do they want?  What’s their connection to Al Qaeda? Would you like to know more?

Interestingly enough the FBI, in early 2011, was asked by a foreign government about Tamerlan Tsarnev (age 26, was previously designated as Suspect 1, wearing a black hat).  The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups. In response to this 2011 request, the FBI checked U.S. government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history. The FBI also interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members. The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011. The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government.

Since the tragic events in Boston, officials are interviewing Tsarnaev’s family members in the United States and abroad. The family has roots in Chechnya, a war-torn region in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains. The brothers were raised in nearby Kyrgyzstan before the family moved to the United States in 2002. The younger brother became a naturalized citizen on Sept. 11, 2012.
Recently, calls were made for the younger brother to be classified as an ‘enemy combatant’, the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said the young one had been ‘used’ by his older brother who had fallen under the influence of a US-based radical of Armenian descent who ‘brainwashed’ him. Who is this Armenian that lives in Cambridge, MA?

Interestingly, in terms of where they got the weapons and so forth, Boston’s Chechen community is the largest in the United States, and the Obshina has a presence extending as far West as Portland. According to one study, in addition to the Russian Mafia, “at least 150 ethnic-oriented Russian criminal groups had also been identified, including Chechens, Georgians, Armenians, and Russian-Koreans, of which at least 25 were active in various parts of the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America.” Unlike these other Russian-based criminal gangs, the Chechens have an ideological – and religious – coloration: there are reported links between Al Qaeda and the Chechen Mafia.
The main question we need to ask is, what is going on in the Chechnyan/Dagerstan region? Well for one, there several jihadists groups that operate in that Region. One such group is Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs led by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev, a long-time Chechen extremist leader killed in 2006. It is well know that several hundred of his fighters eventually trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. With Bin Laden's financial support, another group known as Al-Khattab also mobilized fighters from the neighboring Russian Caucasus republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan and Ossetia, and from the newly independent neighboring states of Georgia and Azerbaijan to fight in Chechnya.

By August 1995, the U.N listing says, substantial numbers of those fighting against Russian troops in the breakaway republic were "Afghan Arabs", Arab extremists with combat experience fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. In October 2011, after the 9/11 terror attacks, Al-Khattab reciprocated the aid, sending fighters to Afghanistan to help the Taliban and Al Qaeda brace themselves for an expected U.S. response.

What all these groups are looking for is the establishment of an Islamic State in the North Caucasus - an area of southwestern Russian consisting of half-a-dozen republics including Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

Islamic radicals have been very active in Chechnya since the early 2000s, when the Chechen independence movement truly radicalized into a fundamentalist movement. Since then, there have been several large attacks in Russia, such as the Beslan school siege in 2004 and the Nord Ost theater attack in 2002. Several Chechens were sent to Guantanamo. Although there has been some pacification of Chechnya under Ramzan Kadyrov (the Kremlin-backed Chechen strongman), it hasn’t been fully subjugated to Moscow.

It goes back to the late 1990s, when the then second-in-command of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, went to Chechnya to look for a base. He was arrested but then let go. The Pankisi Gorge in Georgia was a training camp of al Qaeda until Georgia — with American help — ousted them. So it’s a long connection.

The Chechen independence movement was initially secular; it was a region that suffered hugely — initially under the Soviets — when there were mass deportations to gulags in 1944. We see in many other places that something that begins as a secular movement becomes radicalized. After a Moscow Theater was seized in a 2002 terror attack, there was a brutal Russian assault on Chechnya. And we saw how this movement became more of a martyrs’ movement that had nothing to do with the independence of Chechnya and more to do with jihad. It started as a Soviet/Russian problem, it festered, legitimate demands for independence were never met, and the younger fighters became radicalized.

Out of these Jihadists groups, there is one substantial leader that has come forward, that is responsible for a lot of the Jihadists activities outside of Chechnya and inside the Caucuses.

That person is Doku Umarov, leader of the Emarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate) (QE.E.131.11). He has approximately 750 militants under his command as well as emissaries in foreign countries. In addition, he has overall command of groups operating in the North Caucasus, organizes major terrorist acts and coordinates the provision of resources to militants. In 2010, State designated Doku Umarov, the leader of Al Qaeda affiliate Islamic Caucasus Emirate, as a global terrorist in 2010. The designation came after Umarov’s group took responsibility for a double suicide bombing on the Moscow Metro, in which at least 40 people died and more than 100 were injured.

Umarov’s leadership of Chechen insurgents has “intensified the split between national separatists and radical jihadists and led to a movement seeking to create an Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus with Umarov as the Emir,” the department said in a statement when announcing the move.

Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).

Doku Khamatovich Umarov held the position of “Secretary of the Security Council” of the self-proclaimed “Republic of Ichkeria” in 1997. In August 1999, as commander of the so-called “south-western front”, he helped organize and actively participated in an attack by militants on the Republic of Dagestan, the Russian Federation. In August 2004 he was appointed "Minister of State Security of Ichkeria" and issued a direct order for the elimination of Russian and foreign citizens.
Doku Umarov was appointed “Vice-President of Ichkeria” on 16 June 2005, by decree of Abdul Khalim Sadulayev, the self-proclaimed “President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria”. On 17 June 2006, he took over “presidential” duties following the death of his predecessor, Abdul Khalim Sadulayev. He appointed Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased) as his deputy.

Doku Umarov was directly involved in organizing a number of major terrorist acts: the capture of residential areas of the Vedenski and Urus-Martanovski districts of the Chechen Republic the Russian Federation (August 2002); the kidnapping of staff from the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Chechen Republic (December 2002); and the bombings of the building housing the Department of the Russian Federal Security Service for the Republic of Ingushetia, in the city of Magas, and of two railway trains in Kislovodsk (September 2003). He was one of the main organizers of the raid on Ingushetia by militants on 22 June 2004, the sortie into Grozny on 21 August 2004, the hostage-taking in Beslan of 1-3 September 2004 and the terrorist attacks in Moscow metro stations on 29 March 2010.

The Caucasus Emirate, also known as the Caucasian Emirate is a self-proclaimed virtual state entity, partially successor to the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and was officially announced on October 31, 2007 by former President of Ichkeria Dokka Umarov, who became the first Emir. Its military branch is the Caucasian Front organization. Both the Russian Federation and the United States have designated the Caucasus Emirate as a terrorist organization.

On October 31, 2007, the separatist news agency Chechenpress reported that the President of Ichkeria Dokka Umarov had proclaimed an Emirate in the Caucasus and declared himself its Emir, thereby abolishing the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and its presidency. The declaration of the Caucasian Emirate was quickly condemned by Akhmed Zakayev, Umarov's own minister of foreign affairs; Zakayev, who lives in exile in London, called upon all Chechen separatist fighters and politicians to pledge allegiance directly to his government in exile in an attempt to isolate Umarov from power. Zakayev also expressed regret that Umarov had caved in to pressure from "provocateurs" and committed a "crime" that undermines the legitimacy of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Umarov said that he did not need any sanction from the Majlis-ul-Shura (the council of rebel field commanders) or anybody else to declare the Emirate, as it is "his duty as a Muslim" to establish an Islamic state "as required by Sharia."

According to the news, Russia remained convinced that Tamerlan, an ethnic Chechen, was in ‘direct contact’ with Islamist militants, most likely based in the strife-torn southern Russian region of Dagestan, where he lived for two years with his family prior to moving to the US. During a six-month visit to Russia last year – a trip US investigators are investigating –  it is understood Tamerlan visited Dagestan, which is now regarded as more unstable than Chechnya.

One theory is that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, who was in thrall to his older brother, may have been ‘inspired’ by Doku Umarov. Significantly, while Umarov was originally fighting only for Chechen independence he has more recently embraced a wider jihadist agenda. Chechen expert Dr Carlo Gallo, the founder of London-based political risk firm Enquirisk, explained: ‘Umarov has made statements in which he has said that the enemy of Islam is not just Russia but America, though the insurgents have never conducted significant operations outside Russia.’

It raises the terrifying prospect of further atrocities being carried out across the globe by disaffected individuals inspired by the jihadist rhetoric of the former Chechen leaders.

We should do more to assist in monitoring these types of individuals and take more stringent action to ensure that those that are identified by our international counterparts should remain under surveillance or eliminated prior to any action they take.

Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda's Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror by Yossef Bodansky


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