The Russians Warned Us – Why Didn’t We Listen?

How did the FBI fail to keep track of Tamerlan Tsarnaev after the Russians warned us about him?

This is a mystery our lawmakers are passionately interested in. The FBI blames the Russians for not providing more information after their own efforts failed to turn up anything they regarded as suspicious. Yet the Russians did indeed provide enough information to justify surveillance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to NBC News, when they informed the FBI he had met with a known terrorist leader no less than six times during his visit to Dagestan. :

“A police official source in Makhachkala, Dagestan, told NBC News on Sunday that the Russian internal security service reached out to the FBI last November with some questions about Tamerlan, and handed over a copy of case file on him.

“Tsarnaev had first popped up on the local police radar in Dagestan last summer, the source said. During routine surveillance of an individual known to be involved in the militant Islamic underground movement, the police witnessed Tamerlan meet the latter at a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala, the police official said.

“It was one of six times in total that surveillance officials witnessed Tsarnaev meeting this militant at the same mosque, according to the police official. The militant contact later disappeared, the police official said, but so did Tsarnaev before investigators had a chance to speak with him. The FBI never responded, according to the Dagestani police official.”

What more did the FBI need to put Tamerlan under surveillance?

The problem is that the Chechen “freedom fighters” are US allies, along with their ideological compatriots in Libya and Syria. When the Chechen rebel “foreign minister,” Ilyas Akmadov,” applied for political asylum in the US, the Department of Homeland Security nixed the idea – but were overruled by a bipartisan coalition of political heavyweights, including Madeleine Albright, Alexander Haig, Frank Carlucci, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ted Kennedy, and John McCain. In a letter of endorsement, Albright gushed that Akhmadov is “devoted to peace, not terrorism.” McCain wrote: “I have found him to be a proponent of peace and human rights in Chechnya.”

It’s a curious sort of peacenik who once fought beside Shamil Basaeyev, commander of the Chechen “rebel” forces, and perpetrator of the worst terrorist massacre in recent Russian history: the slaughter of 300 in Beslan, many of them schoolchildren. Yet the US government not only granted Akhmadov asylum, they also gave him a generous salary at the US Institute of Peace (an Orwellian name if ever there was one).

Although support for the Chechen independence movement is bipartisan, that troublesome little sect known as the neoconservatives has actively backed the Chechen cause from the get-go: an impressive list of prominent neocons, including Bill Kristol, sits on the board of the Chechens’ principal US propaganda outfit, the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (formerly the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya). According to Glen Howard, head of the Jamestown Foundation, a neocon outfit focused on Central Asia, the Chechens aren’t Islamist terrorists, they’re just cuddly “nationalists” rebelling against a Russia that has gone “fascist.” “The Russians are trying to treat Chechen separatism through the prism of 9/11 and terror rather than as a nationalist movement that has been defying Kremlin rule for 200 years,” says Howard. This analytical premise, however, doesn’t seem to apply to, say, Afghanistan.

Neocon “national security analyst” Eli Lake reflects this anti-Russian bias writing in the Daily Beast:

“There were good reasons that the tip didn’t trigger a more aggressive American investigation, current and former intelligence and law-enforcement officials tell The Daily Beast.

“Those officials pointed to the FSB’s habit of treating much behavior by Chechens as suspicious, and nearly all such behavior as terror-related. The Tsarnaev request, they speculated, was likely triggered by the FSB’s concern that he would participate in or provide support to Chechen insurrectionists in Russia, rather that by any sense of a threat to American interests.”

So Tamerlan Tsarnaev met on six occasions with a well-known Chechen terrorist – probably Gadzhimurad Dolgatov, who called himself “Abu Dujana,” killed in December. So what? That’s no skin off our nose, right? Lake treats us to a quote from Michael Hayden, former CIA director:

“The FSB is mad at a lot of Chechens. Not all of them are terrorists, and even fewer of them are dangerous to the United States. When stuff like this happens, we did what we did we called the long pause. You get with your staff, you say it’s these two Chechen idiots, you see what’s in the database. You collect so much stuff, then you go and explain it eventually to Congress.”

Lake has surely performed a service in helping to “explain” to Congress and the American people why the Russians were ignored, a deed for which he will no doubt be amply rewarded: access is the coin of the realm in Washington, and Lake has plenty of that.

But Hayden is behind the times in averring that the Chechen terrorists are no threat to America: a recent split in Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasian Emirate) has opened up in the ranks, between those who are more nationalist and the strict Islamists who insist on the goal of establishing a regional Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus. The UN recently added Umarov to the sanctions list of individuals associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Dolgatov was the leader of a tiny group allied with Doku Umarov, leader of the ultra-Islamist faction.

A video extolling Dolgatov’s martyrdom was posted on Tamerlan’s Youtube account – one of two labeled “terrorists” – when he got back from Dagestan, and later erased – we don’t know by whom. Tamerlan, like Dolgatov, died in a shootout with police, which is certainly what he intended.

Add to this the latest news from the interrogation of Dzhokar Tsarnaev: that he and his brother did it because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – two battlefields on which US troops faced off with Osama bin Laden’s legions.

The “self-radicalization” theory being floated by numerous leaks from various law enforcement agencies is simple ass-covering, which “journalists” like Lake are happy to retail to the general public. To begin with, every jihadist is “self-radicalized” in the sense that they begin an ideological journey that starts within themselves: the phrase is purest malarkey. The line from Tamerlan’s plunge into religiosity, reportedly encouraged by his mother, to his journey to Dolgatov’s lair in Dagestan, and on to the Boston marathon finish line is straight and clear.

Dzhokhar is denying any involvement of groups in his native land (which is actually Krygyzstan, but clearly he sees Chechnya as his true homeland): according to him, he and big brother thought this up all on their very own. But he would say that, now wouldn’t he? After all, an admission of overseas involvement might provoke retaliation against his friends at home.

This, of course, is the answer the authorities want to hear: it gives them some cover to say they couldn’t have known, in spite of the Russian warning. Dhzokhar, having failed to kill himself, is a witness willing to be led: he is, after all, facing a potential death penalty. The whole cover story will be unveiled at his trial, where we’ll have endure his lawyers telling us how he was “brainwashed” by his domineering older brother, and squish-head liberals on Twitter arguing that he was “alienated” by our irredeemably “racist” and Islamophobic society – no wonder he cracked up!

How did two Chechen punks – one a thuggish loser, the other a dreamy 19-year-old pothead – manage to kill three and injure over 250 people, inflict the bloodiest wound on the country since 9/11, and bring the entire city of Boston to a standstill? How did they manage to evade the multi-billion dollar “security” apparatus, which was set up with so much fanfare after 9/11? The answer is to be found in the manipulations and odorous alliances dictated by our interventionist foreign policy, a throwback to the cold war era, which has deemed Russia an enemy and the Chechens the Good Guys. After Boston, they are going to have a lot harder time selling that line.

American foreign policy is concerned with everything but what ought to be its central purpose: the protection of the American people. If our policymakers were focused on that rather than on extending US domination far and wide, the Boston marathon bombing would never have happened.


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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].