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16 April 2013


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The link goes to a Mother Jones piece discussing a You Tube page purported to belong to the older brother. Some links on that go to Feiz Mohammad a radical Australian cleric and there is also a video piece on the Black Flags of Khurasan.

If this page did actually belong to the older brother the two clearly came under the influence of one of the more radical versions of Islam.

What struck me about the video was the extreme romanticism replete with misty warriors and glorious horses. It is something I would expect to appeal to pre-pubertal boys rather than to mature adults.

My current sense is that two boys were vulnerable to precisely this type of conversion.

Babak Makkinejad

Was there ever any evidence of a secular Chechen nationalist anywhere?

I recall the Chechen fighters wearing headbands with Shahadatin inscribed on them.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree with Col. Lang that the likely motivation of the older brother was US policies in Muslim lands. The younger brother might have been there out of a sense of fraternal solidarity and loyalty.

But one has to ask them, really.

I think the comparison with "lefties" is not apt. I think Timothy McVeigh and his cohorts are a better fit. Likewise the anarchists early last century with their campaign of bombings to "bring down the state".

no one

Babak, I agree with everything you say here. I only mentioned the left because I was trying to make the point that there are a lot of people, including US citizens, that make anti-US statements based on US actions and policy in Islamic regions.

My only contention with our host is this: people with psychiatric problems are amazingly capable of acting out their twisted base impulses and justifying it with some pseudo-political excuse.

IMO, an Islamic terrorist must actually be connected to an Islamic movement and I don't think that will be the case with either of these two guys. Simply being upset over deteriorating personal issues, visiting an Islamic website and using the perceived injustices one finds discussed there as a distraction and a vent for said personal issues doesn't rise to the level of Islamic terrorist in my book.

Nothing about this operation compels me to think that the two brothers required support from an extended terrorist network at any stage.


No one

"an Islamic terrorist must actually be connected to an Islamic movement" This is completely untrue. Islamic zealots do not require a minyan to act. There is a very long tradition of this dating back to the murder of the Caliph 'Uthman by a proto-shia man. with regard to Chechen patriots there is no record of there ever having been a movement for Chechen independence from the Tsar, the USSR or Russia that was not religious in its basis. pl

no one

Sir, I take your point. I have been thinking more about it as I watch the news and am approaching the conclusion that you are correct.

Here is what I am still struggling with; A Muslim sets off a bomb and the act is therefore Islamic terrorism.

A Christian sets off a bomb (or shoots up a school) and we do not call it Christian terrorism. Rather we usually look for motives other than religion; these are often motives attributed to insanity and personal stressors. We may not even call it terrorism.

I am not a Muslim, I am not even sympathetic to Islamic causes (excepting the Palestinians) and I have no reservations regarding seeing acts of Islamic terrorism for what they are. Furthermore, I get your points that Citizenship does not define loyalty or self-image and that the divide between Islamic religious life and political is minimal to nonexistent.

Still there is something about the formula, Muslim individual + murder and mayhem = Islamic terrorism.

Maybe it is that, as a modern secular Christian acting as a Christian, one cannot kill to achieve a goal. One cannot kill in the name of Christ. Yet, one can still be a Christian and kill. One would just do the killing in the name of some other cause (stop the spread of communism or IGMFO). So one can - or has to - split one's professional and political self off from one's religious self.

Totally different head from the Islamic set.


Where did they test their bomb design?

Babak Makkinejad

Thanks for your comments.

I do not think Evil has independent Existence but I think actions of Men can be evil.

This must be one of them.

I have come to think that "psychological" explanations are secular equivalents of the concepts of sin, redemption, immorality etc. Just as "Human Condition" is a secular phrase for the "Fall of Man".

So I do not think that appeal to psychology is going to shed much light on what we have witnessed.

I recall watching a farmer in Northern Lower Michigan describing associates of Timothy McVeigh: how they would watch the video of Waco raid on the Branch Davidians' ranch 10, 30, 100 times, get themselves in a state of moral indignation, and told themselves that they had to do something about what happened to Waco.

Having also read of John Brown's actions and the moral and personal outrage that motivated him, watching the events of 09/11/2001 and subsequent disclosures, I find it quite credible to ascribe religiously inspired moral outrage as motivators in this case.

Since one fellow has been captured alive, I expect we should learn sooner rather than later if others have been involved in this attack.

Regardless of motivations, people have a right to go out during the day and come back home safe and sound.

The events of the past few months, in which many people left their homes in the morning only to come back with death of their loved ones in the evening are totally and completely unacceptable to me as "business as usual"

[I knew people who lived through Beirut Bombings, going to the beach everyday - expecting that day to be their last.]

Clifford Kiracofe

More data:

"Albrecht Ammon, 18, lived directly below the apartment of the two suspects. He said he recently saw Tamerlan in a pizzeria, where they argued about religion and U.S. foreign policy. He quoted Tsarnaev as saying that many U.S. wars are based on the Bible, which is used as "an excuse for invading other countries."
The New Bedford Standard-Times reported that Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, who teaches Chechen history at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, said he had tutored Dzhokhar in the subject when he was in high school.

"He was learning his Chechen identity, identifying with the diaspora and identifying with his homeland," Williams said, adding that Dzhokhar "wanted to learn more about Chechnya, who the fighters were, who the commanders were."

Dzhokhar went on to attend UMass-Dartmouth, according to university officials. He lived on the third floor of the Pine Dale dormitory. Harry Danso, who lives on the same floor, said he saw him in a dorm hallway this week."



This is an informative grief for the victims of terror: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/19/the-crime-of-torture/

The author used to be a Bostonian and Boston Marathon runner. The tragic bitterness of his response towards the release of Constitution Project is boundless.

Clifford Kiracofe

As a new inside the beltway cottage industry of Chechen pundits builds up, the following from an academic expert is useful. Note the various phases of the Chechen war in recent times: nationalist phase, radical Islamist phase according to Swift:

"according to Christopher Swift, a professor of National Security at Georgetown University, who said the second Chechen war has morphed into a "radical" and "virulent" war that has incorporated elements of the Muslim idea of jihad.

"That war initially began as a nationalist war, much like the first one, but very, very quickly metastasized into something that looks much more like the radical Salafi-Jihadi movements we've seen in other regions around the world," Swift said.

"The movement that's emerged from the 15 years of war is very radical, it's very virulent, it's very nasty, but up until now, it's also been very, very local. Their ideology and rhetoric talks about fighting jihad against the West, but their operations have always been in Russia itself and predominately within the republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia," he said.

and here:

"Based on these facts, I doubt we have a Faisal Shahzad-style situation. The Caucasus Emirate is about two companies in size. Most of these guys are living in tents in the mountains and constantly moving between safe houses. Their reach outside the region is very limited. Even the Kavkaz website is run outside the region.

I've been in that terrain. It's very difficult physicial and sociological ground to traverse, even for a local. So I'd be shocked to see that they were connected directly to the group.

Mid-afternoon update:

It looks like the bomber was in Russia just last year. If this is true, then we may in fact have a Shahzad-type event on our hands. It's still too soon to know whether this is international or a lone-wolf event based on these new facts."

AS I said before, historical facts pertinant to this discussion of the Islamic radicalization of Chechnya relate to the activities of first the Pakistani Tablighi Jamaat from about 1978-79 and subsequent direct Saudi Wahhabi involvment.

I just had dinner prior to the Boston event with a colleague visiting from Oxford who advises the Brit MOD on the Balkans. I enquired of his former colleague at Sandhurst who I regard as the leading expert on Chechnya and the Caucasus and was told he has retired.

My friend viewed western attention to and analysis of the Balkans and Caucasus as unfortunately waning as MENA and China and other matters are hot these days. Perhaps Boston will bring some attention to the Caucasus again.

Edward Amame


Thanks. Your version makes more sense than the version that I heard later on.


It may be that the religion of the two bombers is irrelevant. Perhaps they just happen to be Muslim in the same way that IRA bombers were Catholic. The IRA terrorists were not motivated by their devotion to the Roman faith; they did not plant bombs in city streets out of devotion to transubstantiation or the infallibility of the Pope and they did not pray Hail Holy Queens as they terrorised the Unionist inhabitants of Ulster. They were motivated by the politics of the unity of Ireland and the British colonial occupation. And likewise these Chechens may - note I am saying may - have been similarly as indifferent to Allahu Akbar annd the re-establishment of the Caliphate. They may have been political, imagining that in some obscure misguided and perverted way they were fighting for justice for Chechenya, or they may be as nihilistic and anomic as the Colombine and Newtown killers. Hopefully, we shall find out.



You are a typical post-modern Brit or American, unable to accept or understand the importance of religion as sect and an element of identity. What about AQ? What was/is their "true" motivation? what about the Iranians whom I used to watch charge Iraqi heavy weapons screaming "Allahu Akbar?" Iranian nationalism? You remind me of all the people I have struggled with since the great search for "nationalist reformers" among the Iranian mullahs. we have learned little. pl

no one

Ok. I admit I was wrong. These two guys were Islamic terrorists.

Col. Lang, I appreciate the education.

As I said somewhere else on this thread, this (the quote below) is what I struggle to comprehend. Yet, I will accept it to be true. I can see where it has a strong appeal for those who can embrace it. Also, I can see where it would make a naked assault straight into heavy weapons possible, suicide bombing possible, anything really.

"IMO Christianity before the Reformation, Catholic Counter-Reformation, and the Renaissance was very similar in its mentality. The notion that life can be divided into the divine and the earthly is a deeply secular notion that certainly did not exist in Christendom until Westerners began to lose belief in the primacy of the search for salvation in another life and the unimportance of this world's business. such a transformation has never occurred in Islam except in fairly minor sectarian settings...."


There were reported explosions in a wooded area last month in the town of Hannover (outside Boston) which never found the individuals responsible. Whether it was them is unknown at this time.
What about this Austalian Cleric who uses the Internet to espouse his hatred that may have been part of the radicalization of the older brother. Have they tried to put a stop to him?

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, a reluctance to accept alien people the way they are.

Hindus, Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese have done so with great success.

Even Jews in Israel have done a decent job of that.

I sometimes wonder if the origin of this reluctance lies in the historical religious animosity between Christianity and Islam.

no one

One question, though - how can a Muslim then remain a Muslim and still truly become an American, sworn to abide by (or uphold) a secular constitution?


no one

As I have said there are as many interpretations of what it is to be Muslim as there are Muslims. the neocons and the Gaffney types imply that all Muslims are the same and that they operate under a unified authority. That is simply not true. pl

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

“Yes, a reluctance to accept alien people the way they are.”

This may have something to do with democracy, using the term in Tocqueville’s sense, not as describing a system of institutions, but rather a view of society as composed of individuals, all of whom are in principle equal. As Tocqueville himself saw, this vision easily mutates into the notion that these equal individuals are, in essence, identical. It is largely because of this that ‘democratic’ ideology contains lurking ‘totalitarian’ potentialities.

The GWOT has been, in its way, a kind of ‘totalitarian’ project. Right from the start it was commonly underpinned by the premise that the terrorist threat to the United States resulted from the failure of societies to ‘modernise’ along the proper lines – which means, in essence, to cease to be different from us. The assumption that the appropriate solution to the problem was to use American military force as a ‘modernising’ agent was a natural development of the basic ideological framework.

A further corollary of the ideological framework is that, because an egalitarian and individualist ideology commonly has problems dealing with difference, it is liable to generate a curious combination of faith in the possibility of transforming other cultures, with complete contempt for them.

The radical difference in the economic programmes involved tends to obscure the fact that the more fundamental ideological elements of Stalin’s ‘collectivisation’ project and the GWOT are essentially identical. It might be interesting to reflect further on the parallels between the kinds of resistance they generate.

The argument may also illuminate another paradox: the way that the embrace of ‘multiculturalism’ by large elements of the British elite has gone in tandem with a decline in their ability to deal with alien societies without collapsing either into a foolish belief that they are really ‘like us’, or hysterical panic. These developments are natural concomitants of the increasingly ‘democratic’ mentality of the elites. Although this is not universally the case, advocates of ‘multiculturalism’ commonly make the covert assumption that culture is, as it were, simply decorative.

Also linked to these developments is a drastic devaluation in the importance given both to serious historical understanding, and practical experience of alien cultures, in statecraft. And here, one comes up against the fact that the mentality I am describing presupposes not simply that American and Western European experience is normative for the human race, but that is premised on a simplistic reading of this experience, in which total war and tyranny are seen as simply aberrations.


Yes, the way Islam is lived and interpreted changes with geographies. Saying that Islam is unified is nonsensical.
From a different angle: maybe the disconnect for non Muslims is the fact that the majority of Muslims will have a more "primal" connection to Islam.something which I think has mostly disappeared in the western developed world.
Again the educated "westernized" Muslims seen on TV represent only themselves.
Ijtihad is still not part of the vocabulary of most Muslims. Unfortunately.
And the policies of the US and EU wrt the Muslim world are certainly not helping.

Babak Makkinejad

US Constitution is not a secular document; it is predicated - through hidden assumptions and pre-suppositions - on the New Testament; in my opinion.

Without Christianity, US Constitution, its preamble, and the Bill of Rights cannot be justified.

I assume that by "True American" you meant someone who took US Constitution as a Muslim would the Revelations of the Quran.

I think after the US Civil War, no such "True Americans" have existed since one could argue that the Constitutional Process in US has been corrupted.

More broadly, however, I think you are pointing out to a serious conceptual schism between Revealed Religions and Constitutional Orders. Excepting United Kingdom, written Constitutions are poor imitations of the Holy Scriptures are presumed to function in the political arena in an analogous manner as the Revelations function in the personal and moral realm.

I think you are quite right to point out this schism; which implies that presumed secular orders - unless predicated on the Revelations in one way or another - will be in contradiction to the Revelations.

In effect, these secular orders become idols - from the point of view of Revealed Religions.

Which brings me to this:

The most successful constitutional order in the world today is that of the United Kingdom; a monarchical theocracy with no written constitution.

I think to resolve or to otherwise manage the schism between secular political order and Revealed Religions one must look at the ideas and practices of the United Kingdom.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

Islam also has been very egalitarian from the very beginning, notice, for example, the absence of hereditary aristocratic titles in Muslim polities.

Islam is, at least superficially, a much simpler religion than Christianity with its complex doctrine of Trinity and its sciences of Christology and Miriamology.

Over the centuries, this seamless garment of Islam has succeeded in clothing the lives of the common (Muslim) people in dignity and purpose.

The Call of Mu'azzan, 5 times a day, in every Muslim state, is calling Muslims to bear witness. This is God's call to all men, severely constraining what could be uttered by men in the exercise of Free Speech and therefore diversity of opinion.

So, in effect, we have - as you have suggested - the Western totalitarian democracy pitting itself against the communitarian religiosity of Islam; a religion that is and has been militantly monotheistic Islam, hoping to win against it.

I confess that I never paid much attention to the "multicultural" issues and debates in the West. The touchstone for me has always been absence of discrimination and many Western societies did not seem to be actively discriminating against Muslims - let us say. [There are very many well-to-do Muslims in France, living professional and productive lives who do not seem to be alienated from the French society. Likewise in US and in Canada. Although I heard about the angry young Muslim men in UK more than decade ago - before 09/11/2001 attacks on US.]

In regards to you last paragraph: yes, I noticed that as well in my conversations with Europeans, all wars, specially theirs, were considered as aberrations not as the manifestations of the truth of "The Fall of Man" or "toutes sont emmerder".

I did not argue with them since I felt sorry for them that they needed such crutches to keep their conceptual secular world together - without the Hope of God's Love or Redemption.

no one

Babak, Thanks for the thoughtful response. I will think about what you have said.

AS an aside, I do not think the US Constitution is based on the New Testament. To the extent that it is based on anything spiritual, I would say those elements resemble Masonic concepts - concepts which are predicated on the belief in One God, but One God as understood by the individual; not as dictated by any particular dogma (disclaimer: I am not one of those conspiracy nuts that sees the Free Masons pulling the strings behind geopolitical machinations. I am, myself, a member)

FB Ali

Kerim said, "..maybe the disconnect for non Muslims is the fact that the majority of Muslims will have a more "primal" connection to Islam".

In practical terms this "connection" manifests itself in a Muslim's sense of being a Muslim (quite apart from the particular creed he may believe in, or how deep his faith is). The corollary to this sense is that of belonging to the worldwide community of Muslims -- the Ummah.

That is why, for example, the average Muslim in South Asia or Southeast Asia feels so badly about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, resulting in antipathy towards Israel's patron and protector, the USA.

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