Saturday, April 20, 2013

A few thoughts on Tsarnaev

There has already been plenty of spilled ink and pixels on the recent capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev - one of the young men believed to be involved in the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this week.

At the moment, there is much that is simply unknown. Assuming he recovers from his injuries (which as of this morning seemed likely), he’ll get his day in court, and we’ll hopefully have a better picture of what happened.

We know that at least one of his relatives has contended that he and his older brother were set up by US authorities. For the time being, I find that implausible. If I had been one of the relatives, I am sure my initial impulse would be one of denial. From what is available, it seems pretty likely that the Tsarnaevs were the perps in this week’s bombing.

Equally implausible for now is the notion that this was an attack that was motivated by religion, politics, or ethnicity - nor do there appear to be any ties to any terrorist organizations. Oftentimes, terrorist attacks that have been motivated by such reasons are followed up a statement or manifesto explaining the reasoning behind the attack (the exception seems to be right-wing terrorist groups in the US, who seem to prefer to remain largely silent). No such statements were ever forthcoming, nor did any organization rush to claim responsibility. My opinion, for now, is that this was probably some sort of lone wolf attack. I could be wrong, but until I see some evidence to the contrary, I think I will stick to what I see as the simplest explanation.

What I think should be avoided are any broad generalizations about Chechens (I have seen way too much of that), or Muslims (again, I have seen way too much of that) and connections to terrorism. Personally, I feel I know way too little about Chechnya or the surrounding Russian states or surrounding independent nations in and around the Caucasus to make broad statements. What little I do know would suggest that the lot of those who live in Chechnya along with those who have fled has been fraught with hardship.

In the meantime, hopefully, the victims of the bombing can start to find some closure. What happened was horrifyingly awful.

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