Tsarnaev Carjack Victim Purposely Left Smartphone

The 26-year-old Chinese national known as “Danny,” whose Mercedes the Tsarnaev brothers hijacked, purposely left his iPhone in the car when he escaped, so that the police could use it to track the brothers.

When they stopped for gas, Dzhokhar went inside to pay, and Tamerlan put his gun aside to figure out the navigation device (maybe planning his route to New York City?), so Danny managed to escape and run to the gas station across the street to call 911.

Danny also said that when his phone rang, the brothers threatened to kill him if he spoke Chinese on the phone.

Who Put Tamerlan on Watch List?

Yesterday I read that the FBI put Tamerlan Tsarnaev on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), a list of about 700,000 names compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center.*

Today, I’m reading that the FBI didn’t put him on the list after getting the warning from Russia, but the CIA did six months later, after getting the same warning.**

All I’m really sure of at this point is that, once again, our bureaucracies are trying to make sure someone else takes the fall.

Janet Napolitano says that Tamerlan “pinged” the system when he left for Russia, but didn’t “ping” when he came back, after visiting Islamic terror havens Dagestan and Chechnya, because his time on the list had expired.  If spending seven months in those places isn’t enough to keep you active on the list until they can check what you did there, what is?

Also, the WaPo story says that given the timing of the CIA’s putting Tsarnaev on the TIDE, he might still have been on the list when he came back, so that Customs should have notified the FBI.

We’re getting lots more finger pointing than answers.

* See “Why the FBI Didn’t Catch Tamerlan Tsarnaev,” Philip Bump, The Atlantic Wire

** See “CIA  pushed to add Boston bomber to terror watch list,” Greg Miller, WaPo

Plenty of Crazy To Go Around

We’ve been learning that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of the radical Australian Islamic cleric Feiz Muhammed.   Muhammed has denounced the Harry Potter books and movies for their dangerous paganism.

Does that ring a bell?  Here in the U. S., we have our Christian fundamentalists, like John Hagee and James Dobson, attacking Harry Potter in the exact same way.

Plenty of crazy to go around in both Christian and Islamic extremist circles.

Um, Tamerlan, This Didn’t Help

“It was very hard to argue with him on themes somehow connected to religion.  On the other hand he did not hate Christians.  He respected their faith.  Never said anything bad about other religions.  But he was angry that the world pictures Islam as a violent religion.”

Elmirza Khozhugov, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s former brother-in-law, in an email to the NYT.

If you’re angry that your religion is seen as violent, wouldn’t you go the Gandhi or MLK route?

Lessons Not Learned

Based on today’s House and Senate hears about the Boston Marathon Bombings, it seems that we still haven’t learned the lessons of 9/11, when it was clear that agencies were not sharing crucial information with each other.  In that instance, the CIA did not share information with the FBI about the men who hijacked the planes.

Now it seems that the FBI did not know about Tamarlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia in 2012, although the Department of Homeland Security did.

It also emerged that the Russians warned us “multiple times” about him.

Who Is Misha?

From “Boston Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Influenced by Mysterious Radical,” Adam Goldman, Eric Tucker & Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press:

In the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said.

Under the tutelage of a friend known to the Tsarnaev family only as Misha, Tamerlan gave up boxing and stopped studying music, his family said. He began opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He turned to websites and literature claiming that the CIA was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Jews controlled the world.

“Somehow, he just took his brain,” said Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni….

They [Tamerlan and Dzhokhar] were raised in a home that followed Sunni Islam, the religion’s largest sect. They were not regulars at the mosque and rarely discussed religion, Khozhugov [the Tsarnaev brothers’ ex-brother-in-law] said.


Then, in 2008 or 2009, Tamerlan met Misha, a slightly older, heavyset bald man with a long reddish beard. Khozhugov didn’t know where they’d met but believed they attended a Boston-area mosque together. Misha was an Armenian native and a convert to Islam and quickly began influencing his new friend, family members said.




As time went on, Tamerlan and his father argued about the young man’s new beliefs.


“When Misha would start talking, Tamerlan would stop talking and listen. It upset his father because Tamerlan wouldn’t listen to him as much,” Khozhugov said. “He would listen to this guy from the mosque who was preaching to him.”


Anzor [the father] became so concerned that he called his brother, worried about Misha’s effects.


“I heard about nobody else but this convert,” Tsarni said. “The seed for changing his views was planted right there in Cambridge.”


Khozhugov said Tamerlan did not know much about Islam beyond what he found online or what he heard from Misha.





Chechnya Isn’t Just a Russian Problem

Janet Napolitano says that the Department of Homeland Security did know that Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Russia last year, despite the misspelling on his travel documents.

That still leaves the question of why they didn’t do more to check him out and keep an eye on him.

I think in general our government sees the issue of radicalized Chechens as Russia’s problem, not ours.  The Chechens have been fighting Russian domination for three hundred years.  But we need to recognize that while some of these folks just want to attack Russia, and so their struggle is primarily local and political*, others are more committed to global Islamic jihad, and that is everybody’s problem.

* Of course there are religious factors inextricably interwoven with the fight for Chechen political independence.  Under the czars and the post-Soviet regime, they were and are Muslims fighting Christians.  Under the Communists, they were Muslims fighting official atheism.