By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Many unanswered questions remain in the wake of the barbaric Boston Marathon bombings last week.
In the absence of established facts, it is difficult to reach an informed conclusion and find a motive for the murderous actions of the Tsarnaev brothers -- Tamerlan, 26, and Dzhokhar, 19. It is interesting to note that Tamerlan carries the name of a vicious 14th century Turkic warlord who razed entire cities to the ground and butchered millions of innocent people.
Instead of jumping to unwarranted conclusions and making generalizations about Chechens, Muslims, and the Tsarnaev family, some probing questions are in order:
-- Back in 2011, when the Russian intelligence services asked the FBI to investigate Tamerlan’s radical Islamist ties and plans to join underground groups, how thoroughly did the FBI carry out this task? If the FBI agents did a thorough job and found nothing sinister, why did they not follow up a few months later when Tamerlan returned to the US in 2012, having spent six months in the troubled Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan? And why did US law enforcement agencies fail to investigate the Jihadist videos and links to radical Islamist websites found on Tamerlan’s computer?
-- If the Russian tip was not seriously pursued by US officials, was their decision based on political considerations or a proper assessment of the risk of terrorism? Since Chechen insurgents were fighting Russia for independence, did US officials prefer not to meddle in an internal Russian conflict? Did the US view Chechen "terrorists" as "freedom fighters," concluding that they represented no threat to the United States? More significantly, what role did the anti-Russian stance of influential neo-conservative American circles play in assessing the warnings on Tamerlan?
-- Did the Russian intelligence services thoroughly investigate Tamerlan when he fell in their lap while visiting Dagestan and Chechnya for six months, particularly if they were dissatisfied with the FBI's lukewarm response to their earlier request?
-- Would this terrorist act killing four Americans and injuring close to 200 now prompt US intelligence agencies to cooperate more fully with their Russian counterparts to jointly combat terrorism regardless of international political concerns?
-- Will the US investigate the 10-day visit to Turkey in July 2003 by Tamerlan and three of his family members, as disclosed by Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler? What was the purpose of Tsarnaevs’ visit to Turkey and who were their contacts?
Turning to Ruslan Tsarni, the talkative uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers, who made controversial and contradictory comments disseminated worldwide by CNN, NBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Time magazine, among others. Uncle Tsarni accused an unnamed Armenian convert to Islam in Cambridge, Mass., for radicalizing Tamerlan!
Tsarni, a Maryland resident, told the NBC Today show that one of his Armenian acquaintances informed him about an "outside influence" on Tamerlan: "He [the acquaintance] said, there is someone who brainwashed him [Tamerlan], some newly convert to Islam. I would like to stress [the acquaintance] was of Armenian descent."
However, Uncle Tsarni, gave CNN a completely different explanation for the despicable actions of his nephews. He had accused them of being "losers," claiming that they had brought shame on their family and the Chechen people. But, he later told NBC Today that he had called his nephews "losers" out of anger, and that he was now sure their crime had nothing to do with Russia or Chechnya. Tsarni also contradicted himself on CNN by claiming that the person who had "brainwashed" Tamerlan was the "new convert to Islam of Armenian descent," not the acquaintance!
The question is, who is Tsarni and why is he accusing an Armenian? A cursory internet search reveals that he has had direct ties to western energy companies involved in the Caspian region. He has worked for Big Sky Energy, Golden Eagle Partners, and Nelson Resources Ltd., all three with direct investments in Caspian Sea energy projects. Could Tsarni’s ties to these energy companies explain his accusation against an Armenian?
Finally, why hasn't a single Armenian organization or official complained to the news media about their dissemination of Tsarni’s baseless and libelous statements, accusing an Armenian for radicalizing Tamerlan? A similar situation occurred years ago, when an Australian newspaper, The Canberra Times, reported: "Pope Shot by Armenian Gunman." In reality, Pope John Paul II was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk!
It is high time that Armenians organize an anti-defamation organization that would vigorously pursue all those who libel and defame them around the world?