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Many in the mainstream media are mystified, unable to pin down a possible motive behind the Boston bombings despite a wealth of information that strongly suggests the suspects had ties to radical Islam.
For example, it was discovered early Friday that one suspect had a playlist on YouTube titled “Terrorist” and another called “Islam.” He also subscribed to a channel called “Allah is the One.”
The two suspects are immigrant brothers from the Russian republic of Chechnya. The playlist belonged to 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed overnight in a shootout with police in the Boston area. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken into custody late Friday evening.
The older brother’s playlist also included “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags From Khorasan,” described as “a key part of jihadist mythology: That one of the most significant battles fought against the ‘infidels’ will take place in the Khorasan, a geographic area that includes parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan” and has been increasingly mentioned in al-Qaida propaganda.
Politico posted an article titled, “Bombing motive: Far from obvious,” in which authors Josh Gerstein and Jennifer Epstein asked, “[W]hy would two Chechen refugees harbor such anger toward the United States that they’d want to carry out a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon?”
They then declared, “The answer is far from obvious” because of disagreements between Russia and the U.S. and because of American condemnation of Russian human rights abuses, including those in Chechnya.
However, the authors’ own article goes on to recount numerous reasons why a pair of Muslim brothers from Chechnya might harbor ill-will toward America.
The authors quotes a security expert who said, “Over the last several years, we’ve seen Chechens fighting in Afghanistan, Chechens fighting in Iraq, Chechens fighting in Syria.”
Lorenzo Vidino of the Switzerland-based Center for Security Studies also observed, “Starting in the 1990s, some Chechens began to embrace a militant interpretation of Islam and have fallen into the umbrella of a sort of global jihad,” and, “Once you embrace that ideology, if you buy into the global jihad mindset, one battlefield equals the other.”
“An attack on Boston is good as an attack on Pakistan, which is as good as an attack on Moscow,” he added.
In fact, attacks by Chechen Muslims have been particularly brutal.
The Politico article noted, “After a hostage taking in a Moscow theater in 2002 in which about 170 people died, the Bush administration put three Chechen groups on the U.S. terrorism list.”
Chechen separatists were blamed for one of the most notorious terrorist attacks in history, a raid on a rural school in Beslan, Russia, in 2004.
Terrorists held more than 1,100 people hostage, mostly children, for three days. When Russian troops stormed the complex, more than 330 people, mostly children, died at the hands of the terrorists or became casualties during the siege.
Survivors said “screaming teenage girls were dragged into rooms adjoining the gymnasium where they were being held and raped by their Chechen captors who chillingly made a video film of their appalling exploits. They said children were forced to drink their own urine and eat the petals off the flowers they had brought their teachers after nearly three days without food or water in the stifling hot gym.”
CNN’s website steered clear of the Islamic factor as much as possible in describing the Boston suspects. An article linked as “Who are they? What we know” did not even mention Islam or Muslims for most of Friday, the first day it appeared.
By afternoon, the article included a mention of Islam, but downplayed religion as a factor.
“Though the family is Muslim, their religion played no role in the attacks, the uncle insisted. ‘Anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it’s a fraud, it’s a fake,’ he said. He described the family as peace-loving, ethnic Chechens. ‘Somebody radicalized them, but it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia.'”
However, if “their religion played no role in the attacks,” then why did the uncle also mention “Somebody radicalized them”? CNN did not note the discrepancy.
A link on CNN’s website called “What’s next? Hunt for motive begins” appeared Saturday and made no mention of Islam or Muslims.
CNN’s silence comes after correspondent Christiane Amanpour’s comment earlier this week in which she made clear that she hoped the Boston bombing perpetrator did not turn out to be Arab, and, by implication, Muslim.
Speaking at the Arab American Institute Foundation’s annual dinner Tuesday, she said it was understandable to “hope beyond hope that this doesn’t turn out to be what it might be.”
Amanpour did say, “And I know, when we know who did this, we will all unite in strong condemnation.”
But she implied she hoped the bomber turned out not to be an Arab or Muslim, because, “I do understand the burden of association.”
Some in the media hoped it would be a white American.
David Sirota at Slate wrote a piece Tuesday, titled, “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.”
His reasoning? Because a Muslim bomber would lead to a “slander” of Islam.
Sirota writes that unlike a white American, a Muslim perpetrator would mean “a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered.”
Sirota reasoned, if the suspect were a white man, the whole class of white males would not be blamed. But, if the suspect turned out to be a Muslim, that would lead to pointing a finger of blame against Islam. Sirota failed to mention that white males have not declared jihad on Western civilization.
After receiving much flak for the article, Sirota double downed and wrote another one the next day, titled, "I still hope the bomber is a white American."
This time, he reasoned, "The identity of the person behind the Boston bombings will strongly affect our response," and he worried if the bomber were a Muslim, it might cause the U.S. to "overreact."
An MSNBC commentator appeared to be more concerned about justice for the suspects than the victims.
On his "All In" show Tuesday, Chris Hayes strongly criticized remarks by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who had said any non-citizens accused of the Boston bombing should not receive Miranda rights and should be tried by a military tribunal.
Hayes said he was "angered and disappointed" by her comments and called them ignorant and a "disgrace."
Hayes reasoned, "If a French national is arrested in a bar fight, he gets access to a lawyer, is arraigned and charged, and eventually tried. We don't have some special carve out in the law for foreigners."
Hayes did not mention that the law does have a special place for those who engage in acts of war against the United States, even if a suspect were French: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.