By Danny Schechter
I started writing on Patriots day in Massachusetts, the State holiday commemorating America’s revolutionary war in one of the cities in which it began. It was also the anniversary of the Waco FBI massacre aimed at right-wing fanatics and the demolition of the Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City by right-wing fanatics.
But I was writing about the events in Boston with the bomb attacks on the Marathon, and the manhunt that locked the city down in a military maneuver.
I worked in Boston media for 12 years, many of them at WBCN when it was located in the Prudential Center, for many years the destination of the race. I also lived on Norfolk Street in Cambridge where the two men alleged to have of triggered the bloody mayhem were said to be living. I took my daughter to the Cambridge Hospital where the other “suspect, “ Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may or may not recover.
It’s a turf I know well. I went by the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School attended by the two brothers in question almost every day, and have a friend who may have been one of his teachers.
It all seems so familiar and yet still difficult to understand.
The details are flooding in as journalists track the history of the Brothers Tsarnaev with every detail tweeted, broadcast and posted just about everywhere. Everyone is now an “expert” in our age of instant information and often-instant misinformation
Who were these boys and what were there motives? Clearly, as they aged, they reached out and reinforced their Chechen identity which is simplified in the US only as hard core Jihadi Muslims.
Nationalism in that country is goes way beyond a fanatic faction, in part because of the years of harsh Russian oppression, first in the Soviet Days when Stalin literally deported the whole country and sought to destroy its culture and many of its people. If it was not genocide, it was something very close and a history seemingly unknown by our media and most Americans.
In response, the Chechens have fought back militarily and with terror attacks including a murderous high-profile takeover of a school, and movie theater in Moscow. Many were killed. The military response has also been brutal and again the death toll seems only well known only to some human rights groups here and there.
I know about because I co-produced Globalvision’s human rights TV series “Rights & Wrongs,”, hosted by Charlayne Hunter-Gault that aired on PBS stations and world- wide. We featured a prize-winning report from a village that the Russians massacred.
This is not to justify the horrific events in Boston, and the terrible injuries and deaths caused there, but only to say that when problems like this are allowed to fester, they have a way of becoming other people’s problems. It is called “Blow Back.”
Young people new to this history may easily develop–or be encouraged to develop- -revenge fantasies against a world that has been silent to their people’s suffering. In targeting the marathons they were disrupting a very visible International sporting events just as a Palestinian faction targeted the Olympics in 1972. The bombing was an attack on the international community, not just Americans.
Given our ignorance of the world, It’s not surprising that the Ambassador of the Czech Republic had to issue a statement saying Chechnya is not Czech. The fact that President Obama thanked Vladimir Putin is a sign that the US will never try to assure justice for Chechnya.
Putin is blamed by Chechens for massacres there in an unending cycle of tit for tat violence. Remember how the Russians destroyed the Chechen capital of Grozny? It wasn’t pretty—but of course, the runners in Boston should in no way be held responsible.
The Daily Beast reported how the investigation zeroed in on the Chechen connection. “With the description, the FBI searched surveillance video and the digital images sent in by the public until they found a “person of interest” in a black hat and black jacket, a black backpack on both shoulders. They would subsequently identify him as 26-year-old Tamerlane Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen who had come here from Kazakhstan in 2003 after his family was granted political asylum. His avowed goal had once been to get his American citizenship by boxing for the U.S. Olympic team and then turn pro.
That dream had hit a bump at the 2009 Golden Gloves Championship in Salt Lake City, where Tamerlan failed to make even the semifinals, losing by decision to Lamar Fenner of Chicago. He had hoped for a title bout but was arrested that year for assaulting his girlfriend. He stayed away from the gym for a while and came back transformed, abrasive and rude when he had once been polite and respectful. He walked with his street shoes on the mats as if to show rules did not apply to him.”
He had also been repeatedly questioned by the FBI, at the request of the Russians. That probe found no evidence of any terrorist connection and no action was taken except that the Department of Homeland Security recommended just because the
FBI questioned him, that he not be been given citizenship, a decision that could have led to his further alienation from the country and anger against its government. He was punished after having been found innocent. This after the FBI saying, “We didn’t find anything about him that was derogatory. His father was told—get this—that the FBI told his son, that the questioning was prophylactic “ So that no one sets off bombs on the streets of Boston.” Power of suggestion anyone?
It’s just possible that since he felt they were treating him like a terrorist, he would act like one.
In the meanwhile, his thwarted ambitions found refuge in talk of jihad. A YouTube account in the name “Tamerlan Tsarnaev” posted a playlist he named “Terrorists” and “liked” Islamic militant videos. He complained, “There are no values any more.” On the day of the attack, Dzokhar tweeted : “There are people who know the truth who stay silent & there are people who speak the truth but we don’t hear them ‘cuz they are a minority.”
In Chechnya, there are reports that the public there thinks this is a plot and that the boys were set up. The boy’s parents insist they are innocent, even as their Uncle doesn’t.
In this country, conspiracy theorists raise questions after it was disclosed that there were many reports that runners were told there was a police “drill” underway and thee were bomb dogs and an enhanced police presence at the race.
Carl Worden who reminds us that Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged killer of JFK, said he was a “patsy” after he was captured. He wonders if the same can be said of these widely despised brothers who stand accused of the crime. One of course is dead, but the authorities are not reading the other his Miranda Rights because of a “public safety” exception in hopes of getting him to spell every bean before he is Gitmo bound.
Writes Worden: “Setting up a patsy isn’t as difficult as one might imagine. Let’s take this instant case in Boston. We already know the FBI was contacting the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing, long before that fatal day. What if the handlers or someone sent by them contacted the brothers to help with a bomb drill scenario to check how effective security was at the Marathon? What if these handlers told the brothers to mix with the crowd wearing bulky back packs the handlers gave them, and were told to place those backpacks in certain locations when the crowd was distracted by the racers reaching the finish line? They had nothing to hide, right? They were working with the security detail, right? Why should they try to hide their faces when everybody knows full well that there are cameras everywhere at an event like that, not just security cameras, but news cameras and private phone cameras?
Why did the surviving brother have his bill-cap turned in reverse to fully reveal his face in that camera-ridden environment? Pretty stupid, right? Well yeah, especially when you think your doing God’s work and have nothing to hide! But when the brothers saw their faces all over the news, that is when they realized they had been set up and took off running — just like Oswald did.”
Hmm, I don’t think I buy this if only because even the far right has stayed away from Chechnya and the Obamatons want to woo Putin, On the other hand I could be naive myself. Here’s Michael Moore’s website on neocons backing Chechen terrorism. Your reactions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at NewsDissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org. He has been around for a while.