Did Brothers' Chechen Origins Play a Role?
At this point, any connection is hazy at best
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2013 11:46 AM CDT
This undated photo provided by the vkontakte website shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.   (AP Photo/vk.com)

(Newser) – Reports that the two brothers accused in the Boston Marathon bombings are Chechens—a heavily Muslim ethnic group that hails from the North Caucasus region—have wire services scrambling to provide context to Chechnya's long and violent fight for independence from Russia. One primer in wide circulation today comes from the Council on Foreign Relations. While Russia captured the Chechen capital in 2000 and theoretically reasserted control over the republic, sporadic violence from various insurgent groups has continued since, it states. One Chechen militant, Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Moscow's subway in 2010. What's more, "experts say there are several ties between the al-Qaeda network and Chechen groups," says the CFR primer. And all of this tells us what exactly?

  • "Not very much," writes Hayes Brown at ThinkProgress. "An ethnicity does not indicate any sort of defined motive or ties to any possible group or groups," and "it is difficult to discern what—if any—ties or sympathies the two brothers have to Chechen terrorist groups." Further, Brown points out that Chechen groups have historically set their sights on Russia, not the US. (The brothers' alleged social media accounts suggest they were interested in Chechen issues—and the elder reportedly posted a video from an extremist linked to al-Qaeda, according to Mother Jones.)
  • Quartz zeroes in on a statement Chechnya President Ramzan Kadyrov posted today via Instagram. Quartz translates it from Russian; the key statement: "Any attempts to link Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if indeed they are guilty, are futile. They grew up in the USA, their viewpoints and beliefs were formed there. You must look for the roots of [their] evil in America." (Quartz, however, notes there's some disagreement about the last sentence; more on that here.)
  • In addition to the CFR piece, Reuters previously published a backgrounder on insurgents in the Caucasus region, and Politico notes that President Obama has avoided the issue of Chechnya in deference to Russia, much like his predecessors.

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
Apr 20, 2013 10:41 AM CDT
In this picture he sure doesn't look like a sweet, little angel. He looks like he hates whoever is taking the picture. Every photo I've seen of him, at least the close-ups, you can tell he's a pot smoker by just looking at his eyes. Daddy thinks he's been studying medicine for the last two years, when it was really bomb making 101.
Apr 20, 2013 12:38 AM CDT
We need to round them up like cattle, and shoot them like pigs.
Apr 20, 2013 12:20 AM CDT
The Chechens are scum. There is simply no excuse for taking children hostage as they did in Beslan, which resulted in 180 dead kids. I don't what your stupid "cause" is -- there is simply no excuse for killing children to make a political point. These two scumbags are typical Chechens.