An Islamist Surprise for Ian Buruma?
Simon Shuster, writing for Time, has a surprise for Ian Buruma, who thinks that the Tsarnaev brothers' are an American phenomenon -- like a mentally deranged man with a gun -- and doubts that digging into their Caucasus connections will uncover anything of value: "Dagestani Relative of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Is a Prominent Islamist" (May 8, 2013):
Last year, when Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months in the Russian region of Dagestan, he had a guide with an unusually deep knowledge of the local Islamist community: a distant cousin named Magomed Kartashov. Six years older than Tsarnaev, Kartashov is a former police officer and freestyle wrestler -- and one of the region’s most prominent Islamists.Buruma isn't entirely wrong, for some of the radicalization began in America, but Shuster provides evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's focus shifted during a visit to the Caucasus:
In 2011 Kartashov founded and became the leader of an organization called the Union of the Just, whose members campaign for sharia law and pan-Islamic unity in Dagestan, often speaking out against U.S. policies across the Muslim world. The group publicly renounces violence. But some of its members have close links to militants; others have served time in prison for weapons possession and abetting terrorism -- charges they say were based on fabricated evidence. For Tsarnaev, these men formed a community of pious young Muslims with whom he could discuss his ideas of jihad. Tsarnaev's mother, Zubeidat, confirmed that her son is Kartashov's third cousin. The two met for the first time in Dagestan, she said, and "became very close."
[A] picture . . . emerges . . . of a young man who already carried a deep interest in Islamic radicalism when he came to Russia from his home in Massachusetts. But that curiosity evolved during his visit. The members of Kartashov's circle say they tried to disabuse Tsarnaev of his sympathies for local militants. By the end of his time in Dagestan, Tsarnaev's interests seem to have shifted from the local insurgency to a more global notion of Islamic struggle -- closer to the one espoused by Kartashov's organization.Tsarnaev's focus thus shifted away from the North Caucasus and onto the global jihad, zeroing in on America as the main 'oppressor' of Muslims and thereby making it the object of attack. Read Shuster's entire article . . .