Al Qaeda AQ Caucasus Emirate Chechnya Dagestan Doku Umarov Global Jihad Global Jihadism Islamism Jihadism North Caucasus Russia

Yet Another Rusology Fail: The Boston Marathon Attack Had No Relation to the Caucasus or Jihadism


by Gordon M. Hahn

According to reports from the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Jokhar Tsarnaev, one of the sites most visited by Jokhar’s older brother Tamerlan under whose theo-ideological influence the younger Jokhar had fallen was the main website of the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin whom Tamerlan tried to join when he was in Dagestan in 2012 (

Shortly after the attack the Huffington Post hosted a discussion on the attack and the Caucasus in which two of the three participants argued that the attack had nothing to do with the Caucasus, no less jihadism. One of the participants argued to the contrary. It seems it is time for the two academics whose biases led them astray to — as one of them said — ‘eat crow.’

For the Huffington Post video, see

Despite the preponderant weight of the evidence pointing to the Tsarnaev brothers’ identification with the North Caucasus (in particular their parents’ homelands of Dagestan and Chechnya), with the Caucasus Emirate, and global jihadism, some parts of U.S. government continued to deny them. In April 2014 I was invited to testify before the Subcommittee of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence of the Committee on Homeland Security of the U.S. House of Representatives ( After my testimony I was approached by a staffer of the subcommitte or the committee and told that they had prepared a draft report on the Boston Marathon attack based almost exclusively on my research report accessible at However, officials at the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) vetoed the draft paper based on my work, saying that it could be sited only once in the committee report, as my work “could not be trusted.”

Yet it was the NCTC and other such bodies that had failed to stop an attack by a group I had been warning about for years. They had failed because the predominant, even monopoly view in Washington’s think tank and government echo chamber was that the Caucasus Emirate was not really a jihadi group but rather a disparate group of Chechen freedom fighters. In DC’s group-think environment, Russian intelligence warnings about Tamerlan — no less my own about the CE — could never have held water. Moreover, regardless — or perhaps because — of how wrong US intelligence and security organs had gotten it, the person who proved not only right but prescient was deemed ‘unworthy of trust.’ On this background, how I was ever invited to testify before the subcommitee remains a mystery.

At any rate, now you know have an inkling as to why 4 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded on April 15, 2013 in Boston, where 30 years ago I was a college student embarking on a life in Soviet/Russian studies. Little did I know how futile my hard work would prove in the face of the intellectual and professional corruption and perfidy that grips Washington.

For a discussion of Tamerlan’s attractions to the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin and global jihadism, see Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014) or my white paper report at

For the warning that the North Caucasus jihadists were tied to Al Qa`ida and the global jihad already in the mid-1990s and could produce recruits for the global jihad for attacks in Europe and/or the United States, see Gordon M. Hahn, Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: