Andrei Piontkovsky
Andrei Piontkovsky
Senior Adviser of Free Russia Foundation
Turning a blind eye can lead to new tragedies

In January President Trump exchanged some harsh words with Australian Prime Minister Turnbull. He was very frustrated, having inherited from Obama the agreement to resettle 1,500 refugees from the Nauru and Papua islands in the US.

“I don’t need any more Tsarnayevs,” he grumbled on Twitter. This tweet shows that Trump knows that the Tsarnayev brothers first came to the US as refugees (although Trump is clearly unaware of Tsarnayev-the-elder’s escapades just before the Boston Marathon bombing.

Let me try to give you a play-by-play of the events the American collective consciousness has instinctively refused to acknowledge for almost 4 years now (because if it did, it would have to draw too dramatic of a conclusion as to who Mr. Putin really is).

I especially count on the legions of Trump fans in the US, so maybe they’ll succeed in explaining to their hero Trump who exactly it is that he’s planning to work with in the fight against Islamic terror.

True: In 2011, Moscow twice warned the FBI and the CIA that the elder Tsarnayev was an Islamist sympathizer (although there were no specific charges). He was questioned in the US twice, but was not detained due to lack of incriminating evidence.

Putin has been quite keen on pointing this out to the Western audience, repeating the memorized legend again and again, (e.g. at the Valdai discussion club in Sochi):

“In 2011, we warned our American partners of the Islamist ties of US resident Tamerlan Tsarnayev. The colleagues didn’t take our information [seriously], and even suggested we stay out of their affairs. Well, I then instructed [Russian Federal Security Service head] Bortnikov not to raise this issue with the Americans anymore, and a few months later the Tsarnayevs committed the terrorist act at the Boston Marathon. You see – they’re not prepared to cooperate with us in the fight against international terrorism, even when it’s a matter of their own security.

Vladimir the Tauridian lays it out smoothly. Yet he deliberately leaves out the most dramatic page from the history book of Tamerlan Tsarnayev’s life and death.

Actually, it wasn’t “a few months” later – it was a year and a few months later that the Tsarnayevs perpetrated the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in April 2013. The year prior, in 2012, a remarkable thing happened.

After being questioned, Tsarnayev was aware that Moscow suspects him of complicity with the Islamist underground. He knew full well what happens to people like that in Russia, quite often off the record. Still, in January 2012, he goes to Russia. He doesn’t try to sneak in via some secret forest trails – he openly and legally flies into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport despite his name being in every database imaginable. Tsarnayev would never dare do that had he not been certain he’d be safe in Russia.

Naturally, someone whose fate was being personally supervised by Putin and Bortnikov was under tight watch by the FSB’s central outfits (i.e. his curators’ caring hands) from the second he landed at Sheremetyevo airport.

It was still under the FSB’s watchful eye that he traveled in the Caucasus and met with activists of the Islamist movement. In The Boston Bomber was loaded, [the Russian newspaper] Novaya Gazeta reported that Dagestan Center for Combating Extremism investigators documented numerous meetings between Tsarnayev and two individuals suspected of involvement with the Islamist militant underground: Mahmoud Nidal and Tsarnayev’s old North American acquaintance William Plotnikov.

Both of these friends of Tsarnayev’s were liquidated – one Mahmoud Nidal on May 19, 2012, the other William Plotnikov on July 14, 2012. After that second liquidation, the elusive and invincible Tamerlan disappeared. Vanished into thin air. Went into the woods, or so the naive Dagestani law enforcers thought.

In fact, however, he was in Moscow once again, and from there, from that same Sheremetyevo Airport, he flew unhindered back to America, to fulfill his mission and meet his fate.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, a delegation of US senators came to Moscow to co-investigate the case with their Russian colleagues. Yet the Russian colleagues brazenly sent the senators packing, asserting Tsarnayev had not been in Russia in 2012. An American diplomat who accompanied the delegation, Ryan Christopher Fogle fell victim to a successful provocation by the Russian security services: he was promised secret information about Tsarnayev, but was instead ostentatiously detained as TV cameras rolled.

To make it clearer, the playbook “Cooperate with the Kremlin or you’ll keep getting blown up” was first fully developed by Putin’s propaganda and its foreign agents after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Senator McCain might not even realize just how right he was when he warned President Trump: “When you talk to Putin, don’t forget you’re talking to a murderer and thug.”

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