The Boston bombings and the roots of terror

24 April 2013

Within days of the bombings in Boston, massive contradictions have opened up in the official accounts given by the Obama administration, the FBI and other state agencies as to how this terrorist attack transpired.

As in so many previous cases, once again in the Boston bombings the individual said to be the principal organizer of an act of terrorism was well known to the FBI. In 2011, the agency had been tipped off by Russian intelligence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died last week following a shootout with police, was suspected of being a radical Islamist seeking to link up with armed groups in the Northern Caucasus.

The FBI now claims that it investigated Tsarnaev, a resident alien and Russian citizen, but found no incriminating evidence, learning nothing more about him until after the April 15 bombings.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday that when Tsarnaev left the US for a six-month trip to the Caucasus in January 2012, his trip “pinged” the Department of Homeland Security system, but that when he returned no one took notice because the investigation into his activities had lapsed.

There are many possible explanations for how someone placed under an FBI investigation as a suspected Islamist militant could carry out a bombing in the heart of a US city, killing three people and wounding over 170 more. The one that is least plausible, and can be rejected as a lie and cover-up, is the FBI’s claim that the suspect simply fell under its radar.

The mother of the two brothers has directly contradicted the FBI’s story, reporting that Tamerlan was in continuous contact with the agency for between three to five years and that they were “controlling his every step.”

Russian police sources have contradicted the FBI claim that it received no information from Moscow, reporting that they provided the US agency with a dossier on Tamerlan.

Amid the self-congratulatory praise for the police agencies that placed Boston under a state of siege last Friday before capturing Tsarnaev’s 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, there has been a growing drumbeat of criticism of an “intelligence failure” by the FBI. The US Senate and House intelligence committees held closed-door hearings Tuesday on the FBI’s handling of its 2011 investigation into the activities of Tsarnaev.

There is no reason to expect anything but a cover-up from these hearings. One only need consider the fact that the FBI’s director is Robert Mueller, who held the same post on September 11, 2001. Ostensibly the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the United States, neither 9/11 nor the hearings that followed it resulted in Mueller or any other senior US intelligence, military or other government official losing his post for “failing to connect the dots.”

A number of those involved in the 9/11 attacks had been under surveillance either by the FBI or the CIA. The CIA was well aware that two of the hijackers had entered the US, but deliberately concealed the information from other agencies. Elements within the FBI had demanded an investigation into suspicious activities of Saudi and other Arab nationals training at flight schools in the US, but to no avail.

None of those who carried out the official investigations of 9/11 had any interest in probing too deeply into these connections for fear of what they would reveal.

Virtually every terror case in the US since 9/11 has had the FBI’s fingerprints all over it, and the Boston bombings are no exception. The federal police agency has engaged in unending sting operations, using highly paid informants to troll through mosques and immigrant communities, ensnaring hapless people in plots that would never have existed without the FBI providing the inspiration as well as the means.

In the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they were handed an ideal candidate for such a sting—it is now reported that he had been thrown out of his mosque for making militant statements. Yet they supposedly dropped the case for lack of evidence. This claim lacks any credibility.

After the bombings, the FBI’s release of the photographs of the Tsarnaev brothers, appealing to the public for “tips,” amounted to a calculated cover-up. The FBI is not the Keystone Cops. If they didn’t have prior knowledge of the Tsarnaevs’ plans, they knew precisely who these individuals were the moment they saw them on the videos.

Now there is a palpable air of nervousness in government circles. Before a real investigation has even begun, the story is being put out that the two brothers acted alone without any outside assistance. Within the Obama administration, there appears to be a concerted effort to contain any damage from new revelations.

There are any number of explanations for what happened after the FBI received the request from Moscow. One is that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was given a pass because he was seen as an asset in gathering intelligence on Islamist groups or furthering the murky US operations in support of separatism in southern Russia. Some sources have suggested that he may have turned on his American handlers, as has happened not infrequently—the killing of five top CIA operatives in Afghanistan by a Jordanian doctor sent to infiltrate Al Qaeda comes to mind.

One thing is certain; terrorism is invariably bound up with the criminal foreign policy conducted by Washington, which takes the form of an endless succession of reckless, predatory and violent interventions all over the world.

The September 11 attacks themselves had their roots in the decision of the Carter administration at the end of the 1970s to foment an Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan to overthrow a Soviet-backed government, and Washington’s subsequent discarding of the mujahideen, whom it had previously hailed as “freedom fighters.”

History is repeating itself in the intricate and long-standing relationship between US imperialism and Al Qaeda. In both Libya and Syria, Washington has utilized Al Qaeda-linked forces as proxies in wars for regime-change against secular Arab governments.

In Libya, once Gaddafi was overthrown and murdered, the US sought to suppress these forces, resulting in the bloody assault on the US consulate in Benghazi that claimed the life of the US ambassador and three other Americans last September 11. In Syria, it is preparing to do the same thing, working to cobble together a coalition of “moderates” to marginalize the al Nusra Islamists, who until now have borne the brunt of the fighting. All of this is sowing the seeds for more terrorism.

Innocent bystanders, whether in Damascus, Kabul, Baghdad or Boston, end up paying the terrible price for these US operations, which leave a trail of blood and disaster everywhere.

Bill Van Auken