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In this recent post Professor Juan Cole, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at The University of Michigan, analyzes the video interviews of the Tsarnaev brothers' aunt and uncle -- Maret and Ruslan -- and gleans something I haven't heard before.

He thinks that from what Maret said it is possible that the brothers' father, Anzor,

was a soldier or security policeman for the pro-Russian Chechnyan government of Akhmet Kadyrov, established in 1999 in the course of the Second Chechnya War against the Islamic Peacekeeping Army, which had invaded Daghestan.

Maret Tsarnaev seemed to me to say that the father of the two, Anzor Tsarnaev, had worked as an ‘enforcer’ for the Russian authorities, I take it as a policeman or security official. That was the reason, she said, that he had to flee to Kyrgyzstan. That is, far from being rooted in the Muslim fundamentalist wing of the Chechnya rebellion, as many are assuming, the family appears to have been part of the Russian Kadyrov-Putin establishment and opposed to religious radicalism there.
If I recall correctly, the father, Anzor, lives in Russia now, though I don't know when he returned, and that the elder son, Tamerlan, travelled recently to Russia to visit him.

Without just quoting the whole post, the gist is that the brothers felt they "failed' their father - remember the uncle Ruslan repeating "they are LOSERS" in his statement - and this was their means of proving their mettle and getting back at their father.

You really should read Cole's whole post. It's a pretty nuanced and covers many points, including the secularism of ex-Soviet Muslims; the family's emigration, first to Kyrgyzstan and eventually the U.S., where he was "easily" given asylum; and reasons for the sons' possible resentment towards their father, both personally and for his possible complicity in the suppression of Chechen Muslims. As such it doesn't fit in neatly with any of the scaremongering scenarios we're seeing on TV right now, so it's sure to be ignored. But it's a very interesting take.

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Comment Preferences

  •  oh come on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, murrayewv, BvueDem

    Aznor was well known here in Boston.  Instead of this sort of speculation--ASK somebody!

    •  Just relaying Cole's post (4+ / 0-)

      Are you saying Aznor didn't work for the Kadyrov government?

      Did you read Cole's post?

      •  Let me put it this way (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, murrayewv, BvueDem

        I am friends with someone who has been over to dinner at their place, met the whole family, and who has a keen interest in religion.  And I'm just a random person in Boston.  I'm sure my friend knows exactly how the guy feels about his religion, and I'm sure the kids' friends have a pretty good idea about how they felt about their dad.

        These weren't people living in some kind of safe house or something.

        •  I agree, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cordgrass, mookins, psnyder, Judge Moonbox

          my headline was too glib, I've changed it.

          However, I've attended many of Juan Cole's lectures and classes and he knows his stuff. I see no reason to doubt his knowledge and analysis of Chechen politics of the last couple of decades.

          •  thank you n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mookins, psnyder
          •  if nothing else (0+ / 0-)

            it sheds just a little more light on what role Chenchnya may or may not have played.

            I'm still betting on the disaffected youth happens to be Chechen this time unlike the Columbine and Sandy Hook guys.

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 07:02:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I used to listen to Juan Cole, but no much anymore (0+ / 0-)

            Back in 2001-2003 I found him useful and informative. Maybe I've learned more since then, or maybe he's gotten bitter or blinders, but I don't find him as useful anymore. He seems to have narrowed himself to a gadfly role that is only critical of the USA. That's not an awful thing, useful sometimes, but at the risk of his general credibility.

            The prima facie evidence is that Tamerlan got increasingly radicalized by violent Islamists the past few years. This is what his family, neighbors, friends, and YouTube account all point to. E.g., per the (liberal) Boston Globe:

            In recent years, as discord rippled through their family, both brothers displayed signs of growing extremism.
            Maret Tsarnaeva told reporters at a press conference on Friday in Toronto that her nephew Tamerlan recently went from praying no more than once a day to praying five times a day. A neighbor and family friend in Cambridge said Tamerlan became a devout Muslim within the past few years.
            “He started talking about religion,” said the family friend, who asked not to be identified. “He grew a long beard.”
            The friend said Tamerlan urged him to be more observant, asking, “Why don’t you become a better Muslim? Why don’t you pray, why don’t you do your Islamic duties?”
            When the friend joked about the beard, he said, Tamerlan became upset, asking “Why are you making fun of my religion?”
            Online, it appears, Tamerlan toyed with extremism. A YouTube account created in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name in August 2012 includes in one playlist a video dedicated to the prophecy of the Black Banners of Khurasan, which is apparently embraced by Islamic extremists.
            In another video, featured on a playlist entitled “terrorists,” a speaker holds an assault rifle and wears camouflage fatigues while flanked by armed men wearing masks.
            While steering clear of the racism and Islamophobic prejudice of the US right-wing, among liberals we also need to work to remove blinders about the threat that violent Islamist ideology poses -- not only in the deadliest forms like Al Qaeda, but also for wannabe idiot losers like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
            (Yes, there are also violent Christianist ideologies, and we do a good job covering them here.)
    •  Juan Cole is highly respected (8+ / 0-)

      and I would not dismiss what he says so lightly. How would people in Boston know anything about his life in Chechnya that he did not choose to reveal. This is how former concentration camp guards (not that I am putting Tsarnaev in this category) were able to live as "just folks" in their respective immigrant communities.

    •  Er, nonsense. The diarist is much better (0+ / 0-)

      informed than you seem to be.

  •  It's interesting to contrast (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus, Lujane, Judge Moonbox, BvueDem

    the father's probable secularism with the sons' (particularly Tamerlan's) Isalmic radicalism. And certainly to bring in their conflicts with their father complicates the situation beyond simple minded Fox News-type certainties.

    The distinction may not be that this make this incident of Muslim-related terrorism different from other acts of anti-Western terrorism experienced in recent decades but rather that the particular psychological factors for political violence vary with each one. What I gather from Cole's interesting psychologizing is that acts of political violence depend on deep psychological factors, as well as religious beliefs and political ideologies.

    •  It's also interesting to consider the (6+ / 0-)

      personal differences (in his words) that lead uncle Ruslan Tzarni to separate himself from the family for many years.  It seems to me that the father of the bombers is likely a pro-Russian secularist, while the uncle is a religious and pro-American Muslim.

      Very complicated dynamics!

      From what I've seen, I admire the uncle very much.

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