Who is Ruslan Tsarni?

By Patrick Martin
29 June 2013

In the two months since the Boston bombing, new facts have come to light that suggest a sinister origin for this attack. The Tsarnaev brothers were not only known to the FBI because of a tip passed by Russian security services, the family was directly connected to a former high-ranking official of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The link is Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the two brothers. He was widely quoted in the American media after the bombing, denouncing his nephews as anti-American fools. They were “losers,” and he wished they had “never existed.”

Who is Ruslan Tsarni? A question worth asking. The following facts have been reported in various online media outlets, but not in the corporate-controlled daily newspapers and television networks.

* In 1995, Tsarni incorporated in the US a group called the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, which helped supply Islamist insurgents in Chechnya with items like mine-resistant combat boots.

* The organization was registered at 11114 Whisperwood Ln in Rockville MD, the home of Graham Fuller, the one-time vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA under President Reagan.

* Fuller retired from the CIA in 1988, after stints in Germany, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, North Yemen, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong, including station chief in Kabul.

* Fuller was propelled into retirement by the Iran-Contra scandal, since he was widely identified during the political uproar of 1986-87 as the CIA official who first proposed a back-channel approach to Iran, which led to the arms sales whose proceeds ultimately were used to finance the Nicaraguan Contras.

* Fuller was working at the RAND Corporation, a well-known CIA and Pentagon contractor, when Ruslan Tsarni incorporated his Chechen group at Fuller’s home.

There is one additional fact which is even more significant, and explains why Tsarni used Fuller’s personal residence as the headquarters for his Chechen Islamist operation: in the mid-1990s, Ruslan Tsarni married Fuller’s daughter, Samantha Ankara Fuller. They were divorced in 1999.

Thus, when the FBI was tipped off by the Russians about the Tsarnaev brothers, they were a known quantity, people connected by blood and marriage to the highest levels of the intelligence apparatus.

Graham Fuller mentions his daughter’s marriage to Tsarni in his memoir, Three Truths and a Lie, published in paperback last year. He confirmed this connection to the uncle of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers in a recent interview with Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor.com, a Mideast-oriented news service with links to such pillars of US foreign policy as the Institute for Strategic and International Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Fuller told Rozen that it was “absurd” to suggest any link between Ruslan Tsarni and the CIA, based on these connections. As for any link to the bombers, he said, “I for one was astonished at the events, and to find myself at two degrees of separation from them.”

Tsarni has other connections to the murky world of Central Asian politics, where gangsters, Western oil companies, ex-Stalinists and US intelligence agencies rub shoulders. According to media accounts, Tsarni testified as a defense witness in the four-year-long BTA Bank trial in London, where Kazakh billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov, who fled to Britain after a falling out with Kazakh ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, saw his financial empire collapse.

According to Bloomberg News, Tsarni “was a legal consultant to a U.S. company contracted under USAID in a program of economic assistance for Kyrgyzstan.” He worked for several American multinationals in Central Asia, always returning to the Washington DC area, where he still lives.

There is also the fallout from a comment made by Tsarni after the bombing, when he suggested that “an Armenian convert to Islam had brainwashed” his nephew Tamerlan and directed him on the path to terrorism. This provoked protests from Armenian-American groups. The publisher of an Armenian-American newspaper, Harout Sassounian wrote, “one can only wonder about Uncle Tsarni’s mysterious motives and enigmatic connections.”

The most suggestive indication that there is much more to be learned about the US government’s ties to the Boston Marathon bombers is the absolute silence in the most important media outlets on Tsarni’s dubious connections. Most of the facts listed above have been circulating on the Internet for two months, without ever being mentioned in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or any television network.

On June 13, however, the Times published an op-ed column on “Turkey’s Growing Pains,” portraying the mass protests against the Erdogan regime as a healthy sign of “the further maturing of Turkish politics.” The author was Graham E. Fuller, described as “a former vice chairman of the C.I.A.’s National Intelligence Council.”

The Times was discreetly silent on Fuller’s connection to Tsarni, or the mounting speculation about the US government role in the Boston events.