As the mainstream media is reporting, three additional suspects have now been arrested in the Boston bombing case, two of whom were room mates of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from Kazakhstan. Both were people whose social media accounts were pawed over by Internet sleuths for days. And one of their asssociates, Junes Umarov, whose name is the same as Dagestan's number-one terrorist, has been confronted for two weeks by The Jester, the self-appointed Grand Inquisitor of Twitter who says he is a "former Anonymous leader" (these people are never former).As a result of this intense scrutiny, Junes has turned his Twitter account on and off several times and his role remains unclear.
Just so many pat things in this story -- an Armenian convert to Islam who just happens to have the last name "Allakhverdov" which means "Allah-believer". Two men who were friends with a terrorist suspect, now charged with hiding evidence and obstructing justice, who just happen to have the license plate "Terrorista" (as in the Harlem Shake song). And they just happen to hide his backpack with fireworks in it. Sure, it all appears to be true. I get all that.
But...I keep getting the feeling someone is scripting this. Even putting the bottle of Ranch dressing next to the plov (ouch). MadCow, who believes it's all a CIA plot with "blowback" said all these stories have the feel of "the one-armed hippie on acid who killed your wife".
Well, sometimes one-armed men really did kill your wife. So sure, maybe there really are Armenians from Azerbaijan or Nagorno-Karabakh specificially with this last name. (Yes, I even happen to someone with this last name and for the 10th time, I get it that it's a real name; the person I know identifies as "Russian" in fact; but that's not the issue. The issue is that in this context with this narrative, somebody shows up with the very name that describes him.
There's all kinds of sympathy for these teenagers from liberal media and also the Twit-o-sphere #freejahar fan clubs. Yes, you get things like this from Troy Crossley praising "misunderstood" jihad -- he's a friend of Dzhokhar's who seems to think that by raising money ostensibly for his mom, and using the opportunity of having 15,000 followers or whatever to pimp his rap CDs, that he can get ahead in life.
But before you get too teary-eyed, remember that these two Kazakhs come from a culture of cynical and brutal deception maintained by their dictator, Nursaltan Nazarbayev, an aging Soviet-era tyrant who has been in place all this time without change, giving his daughter TV stations, his son-in-law oil companies and crushing dissenters left and right.
What these kids have done is emblematic of what is wrong with their societies -- and the way their societies work through and through, and why they are hard to change.
Because of their long history of oppression -- from the Tsar, the Bolsheviks, and now the post-Soviet state oligarchy and Putin's regional vertikal, if you will -- they do not trust authority, even when it works legitimately. It is a default not to cooperate with police; this will always and everywhere look like snitching and ratting out someone.
Even when there's an appalling crime like the Boston bombing, the default and the instinct and the drive will be to protect one's own -- the temporary clan of a dorm relationship with fellow former Soviets -- or one's relatives or friends or neighbours -- over the authority who may ask you to go against your clan. It's really tough to crack. What began as an instinct for survival and the instinct of civil society's remnants under the Soviets not to cooperate with the murderous communist regime has now over the decades become an impenetrable mass of ungovernablity. The entire system of bribes is about that.
People want to quickly ascribe the instinct to hide the backpack with youthfulness. I disagree; it's about non-cooperation with the authorities and feeling that you owe your first loyalty to your clan, whatever form that may take. And that is a dark thing: that means that people would rather save their violent psychopath peer than think about hundreds of people with nails in their bodies now and their limbs missing.
Posters appearing in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan calling on the public to "pray for Dzhokhaev" and portraying his arrest and the death of his brother in a shoot out as some injustice mean that the US authorities may find the best way to defuse mass sentiment
However, noting that this poster has the look and feel of printing in State Printing House No. 42, I think this poster had help. From the state intelligence as a provocation; from the Russian intelligence (my first guess usually); from possibly some Islamist organization, who knows. But it's not some piece of carboard with uneven crayon.
I think there are more questions to be asked about who else knew Dzhokhar; whatever people were in the dorm; why these particularly Kazakhs and the third person got involved in grabbing and hiding the stuff. But it's basically about protecting svoikh, your own. I also don't buy the claim of sequencing; that these kids didn't know the firecrackers were relevant to the bomb. Especially when buried in the criminal complaint you can find one of the admitting to having dinner with Tsarnaev a month ago and having him cooly describe to them that he knew how to build a bomb.
This is not funny Borat stuff; this is the real Kazakhstan, which is beloved by Western businessmen and diplomats because it has hurried to curry favour with the West as much as China and because it is making investments in modernization; perhaps it's emblematic that some of the top scholars of Central Asia in our country have been recruited successfully to come and teach in the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan.
The key thing to know about Kazakhstan is that it has a sizeable Russian-speaking population, very good relations with Putin and is the anchor in the Soviet-Re-Union (the Customers Union, Putin's pet project) and that Russian is still spoke even by the ethnic Kazakhs as a lingua franca at home, in the region, and abroad. That's how they could come to be friends with a fellow from the North Caucasus -- all of them are in a sense in a "Russian" context. While they were literally born as the Soviet Union fell apart, the culture of those post-Soviet states merely replicates and if anything intensifies some of the worst features of the Soviet Union. I've tried to get some of that across in this long post, but let me recap the highlights:
o It does not appear that the Tsarnev families within Dagestan and the families of the Kazakh boys are related at all in any way.
o Yet Uncle Ruslan, the Tsarnaev's uncle famous now for his early denunciation of terrorism, sympathy with the victims, and willingness to condemn even his own relatives, did business in Kazakhstan. We don't know how much, how often he went there, when he went there. But he was in the oil and gas business, and may have ceased going there (or not been permitted to go there) after defending one of the key opponents to Nazarbayev, a sort of Berezovsky to Putin, if you will, Ablyazov. Even so, we don't see anything tying these families together.
o As I recount, the father of one of the boys is a wealthy provincial businessman and local assemblyman who is mentioned in the press as having met once at least with Nazarbayev, and having received a pledge of protection from Nazarbayev. But as this occurs during one of Nazarbayev's populist walkabouts to show off his policies in supposedly supporting small and medium business, and seems to humorous rather than sinister, it's not clear if it means that Amir can count on Nazarbayev to go to bat for him with the Americans and call in some chits to get the boys reduced sentences or a release home to be dealt with in their own system (which means torture and terrible prison conditions or release even if they were found guilty of serious charges -- we just don't know how it would go).
o While the security and foreign policy wonk media doesn't seem to be picking up on it, as @Kat_Missouri and CNN pointed out, the items in the backpack are significant. Apparently the jar of vaseline indicates something more sophisticated about bomb-making, even if the painstaking removal of gun-powder from fireworks represents something amateurish. Odd.
o The criminal complaint can be read here, with the picture of the fireworks. What stood out for me in this story is the cover story of having to steal the laptop to make it look like there wasn't anything odd about taking the backpack. That I'm just not getting. You either take stuff from a guy's room and hope no one sees you stealing it, or you take all of it that you find incriminating, and then claim he said you could take it by referring to his tweet...or something. I am just not getting the issue here of taking only the backpack, yet not the computer.
o For me, there's an odd detail in the name of the one boy. His last name is his grandfather's first name, not his father's last name. While a Kazakh boy could be named for his grandfather, as in any culture, and more so in a culture respecting ancestors more than in the West, I'm not getting why he has the name of the grandfather. Several hypotheses -- maybe there is a custom to have his last name come from the grandfather -- but I'd like to see evidence of that given the high quotient of knowier-than-though Internet ethnologists. Or he may have had reason not to appear abroad with his father's name. But to use anything other than his father's name in an official document requiring a birth certificate and so on seems odd, too. Why did he wish to chaneg the name? The father isn't famous; he's a provincial businessman. At least, not famous as far as we know. But as it's been pointed out on Twitter, maybe he just didn't want a small circle of people to find out...
o The father of Dias Dadyrbayev, Murat Kadyrbaev, gave an interview to RT here. He says the car was purchased and not stolen, and the license plate was a joke gift from some friends in Spain. He says his son is not involved and "liked to help other people" do their math homework and learn mathematics. He admits he skipped some classes.
I haven't found anything else about Murat, that may be impossible with Google search cluttetred up with recent news, I will have to drill further.
Two teenage boys were blown up trying to open a cardboard box with a bomb in it planted in a store in Makhachkala. It's not clear from the report whether they are the bombers or stumbled no the box; a box had been left in that store before.