WASHINGTON – While investigators still are trying to determine whether the Boston Marathon bombers now identified as Chechen Muslims had external contacts, analysts say that the two perpetrators may have received training at camps linked to al-Qaida.
The suspect bombers of Chechen origin are Tamerlan Tsarnayev, 26, and his brother Dzokhar, 19.
After an overnight shootout in the Boston area of Watertown between the brothers and police, Tamerlan was killed. Authorities say the brothers also killed a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while a transit police officer was wounded.
It is unknown whether Tamerlan was shot by police or possibly blew himself up. There is an indication that he was wearing a suicide vest. Dzokhar remained at large, although police have converged on an area where he is believed to be cornered. There is similar concern that he, too, may be wearing a suicide vest.
Police reports say the brothers have been in the United States since they were children, raising the question of whether their alleged bombing and subsequent shootouts constitute domestic or international terrorism.
Authorities reportedly are attempting to determine whether the brothers were part of a sleeper cell network, loners or tied to a larger network of Chechens or al-Qaida-affiliated groups in the United States.
Chechen Islamist radicals, being Sunnis, are linked to al-Qaida.
See “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception,” which reveals the threat that is hidden in plain sight for Americans.
Although Tamerlan was killed, the FBI has told Massachusetts police officials that it wants Dzokhar alive, presumably to determine whether he is part of a larger Chechen or al-Qaida network in the U.S., in addition to standing trial for the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15 that killed three people and wounded some 180.
There has been concern among U.S. law enforcement authorities and intelligence officials that Chechens may be entering the U.S. through Latin America to set up such sleeper cells at the behest of al-Qaida.
The nature of the initial bombing using a pressure cooker, as WND previously reported, suggested a link with al-Qaida, which has provided detailed instructions on making such a homemade bomb in one of its magazines, Inspire.
Radical Islamist Chechens are affiliated with al-Qaida and are in a bitter fight in a portion of southern Russia in the Northern Caucasus that is predominantly Muslim.
They are seeking an independent Muslim Caucasus emirate subject to Shariah law.
Since 1994, Chechens have been in a bitter fight with Moscow to establish independence. In addition to the southern Chechen province, Muslims in neighboring Dagestan and Ingushetia similarly seek independence from Russia and continue to wage an all-out guerilla war with Russian security services.
A major Chechen Muslim website which WND monitors appeared to play down the link of the brothers to Chechnya, calling them “strange ‘terrorists,'” and quoted mostly comments from other press reports.
“One after another began to appear publications with the various hints, and some commentators have floutingly poked U.S. with lofty phrases like – ‘Well, now, Putin and Assad are laughing at the U.S. who support terrorist in Syria,'” according to the Kavkaz Center website.
The Department of Monitoring of the Kavkaz Center questioned why the backpacks of the brothers never were inspected by police at the Boston Marathon, even though there was supposed to be such security checks.
It said that “judging by the page in the social network ‘Vkontakte’ Dzhokhar Tsarnayev is very far from the image of ‘Islamic terrorist.'”
The website pointed out that Tamerlan, who was killed, wanted to be a wrestler for the U.S. Olympic team.
“According to his own statements, because Chechnya’s not got independence, he played for the United States, not Russia,” the Kavkaz website said.
It also referred to videos that Tamerlan had collected, including one of the Black Banner, said to be an organization dedicated to al-Qaida.
National security experts say that Chechens terrorists are regarded more as a security threat to Russia and not considered a threat to U.S. They add the fact that Chechen nationals were involved in the Boston bombing is consistent with efforts by al-Qaida, especially Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, to recruit non-Arabs to conduct terrorist activities.
Chechen militants are known to have fought along with Islamist fighters such as al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and now are known to be siding with Sunni Salafist Syrian opposition fighters attempting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“While it is possible that the Tsarnaev brothers ‘self-radicalized’ while in the United States using radical Islamist propaganda that they acquired by themselves and possibly through the influence of radical Islamists they may have come across in the United States, it is more likely that their radicalism was directed in some way by an al-Qaida operative, probably one associated with AQAP in Yemen,” according to the open intelligence Langley Intelligence Group Network, or Lignet.
Sources believe that such a connection is more likely, since Chechen Muslims have more of a dispute with Russia than with the U.S.
However, as Lignet pointed out, the Boston bomb attack reflects good planning that has been eerily similar to the type of attacks al-Qaida conducts and appears to be too sophisticated for suspects this young operating on their own.