Category Archives: Boston Marathon Bombing

From Paris to Boston, Terrorists Were Already Known to Authorities

map-3Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, it never takes long for politicians to begin calling for more surveillance powers. The horrendous attacks in Paris last week, which left more than 120 people dead, are no exception to this rule. In recent days, officials in the United Kingdom and the United States have been among those arguing that more surveillance of Internet communications is necessary to prevent further atrocities.

The case for expanded surveillance of communications, however, is complicated by an analysis of recent terrorist attacks. The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015 (see below), and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot. In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.

In the aftermath of a terrorist atrocity, government officials often seem to talk about surveillance as if it were some sort of panacea, a silver bullet. But what they always fail to explain is how, even with mass surveillance systems already in place in countries like France, the United States, and the United Kingdom, attacks still happen. In reality, it is only possible to watch some of the people some of the time, not all of the people all of the time. Even if you had every single person in the world under constant electronic surveillance, you would still need a human being to analyze the data and assess any threats in a timely fashion. And human resources are limited and fallible.

There is no doubt that we live in a dangerous world and that intelligence agencies and the police have a difficult job to do, particularly in the current geopolitical environment. They know about hundreds or thousands of individuals who sympathize with terrorist groups, any one of whom may be plotting an attack, yet they do not appear to have the means to monitor each of these people closely over sustained periods of time. If any lesson can be learned from studying the perpetrators of recent attacks, it is that there needs to be a greater investment in conducting targeted surveillance of known terror suspects and a move away from the constant knee-jerk expansion of dragnet surveillance, which has simply not proven itself to be effective, regardless of the debate about whether it is legal or ethical in the first place.



Boston Marathon Bombing: Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Path to Extremism Intertwined with FBI Contacts

Murtaza Hussein reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Path to Extremism Intertwined with FBI Contacts[…] Tsarnaev’s online activity had raised the alarm of the Russian FSB as far back as 2010, after the intelligence agency allegedly came across social networking contacts between Tsarnaev and William Plotnikov, a Russian-Canadian believed to have ties to Chechen militant groups.

In March 2011, the FSB sent a letter to the FBI alleging that Tsarnaev had become “radicalized” and that he might potentially seek to join militant organizations in the future. The FBI subsequently conducted several interviews with both Tsarnaev and his parents, determining afterwards that there were no grounds for allegations that he had been in involved with terrorist groups.

Warnings by the FSB about alleged Chechen radicals in the United States are generally viewed with skepticism by the FBI as they are frequently unsubstantiated. Nonetheless, these 2011 interviews with Tsarnaev and his family would later raise questions about the nature of the FBI’s relationship with him before the bombing, even prompting Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to issue an open letter to FBI Director James Comey asking whether Tsarnaev had been the target of a sting operation, or if had been employed as an informant by the bureau.

In a response, Comey denied the bureau had employed Tsarnaev, while declining to elaborate further on any contacts they may have had with him.’


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Found Guilty: Will Federal Jury Impose Death Penalty in State that Bans It?

Why the Tsarnaev conviction is another black eye for Gitmo

Marcy Wheeler writes for Salon:

America's glaring double standard on terror: Why the Tsarnaev conviction is another black eye for Gitmo[…] The trial will now move into a sentencing phase where the jury decides whether Tsarnaev should be executed for his role in the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Now just imagine a similar process, had a jury called out Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s guilt in the murder of each of 2,976 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Anna Williams Allison; David Lawrence Angell; Lynn Edwards Angell,” the indictment filed against KSM and four others in New York in 2009 started its list of the 2,976 people KSM murdered. “Olga Kristin Gould White,” the long list ended. “Guilty,” a jury would surely have found KSM and his co-conspirators, of the mass murder he has always admitted. Guilty, 2,976 times, plus the larger conspiracy to attack the U.S.

Of course, that never happened. Under pressure from Congress and New York politicians, the administration gave up its efforts to try the 9/11 attackers in civilian court in 2011, moving their trial back to the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay just over four years ago.

And in those four years, the trial against the perpetrators of that massive attack, committed more than 13 years ago, has gone nowhere.’


Paris and Boston: That Other, Missing, Comparison

Russ Baker writes for WhoWhatWhy:

Video frame grab of attack on Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo.In response to the horrific events in Paris, a columnist for the Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen, wrote a column drawing a parallel between that monstrous attack and the different but no less abominable violence unleashed in his own city on April 15, 2013. 

By now, many of us have seen the chilling video in which a gunman executes a wounded French police officer lying on the sidewalk, his arms raised in helpless surrender.

The Tsarnaev brothers stand accused of doing essentially the same, sneaking up and shooting a helpless MIT police officer named Sean Collier as he sat in his idling cruiser on the Cambridge campus as the manhunt for the Tsarnaevs gathered pace. The killers wanted Collier’s gun but were too stupid to figure out how to unbuckle his holster.

He’s right about the parallel, but not necessarily about the lessons to be drawn. While there’s little doubt that the French suspects committed the multiple murders in Paris, the same cannot be said at this time about the Tsarnaevs and the killing of Sean Collier. There are real questions about both the identity of the MIT executioners and the purpose of their act. Among the questions: why would the Tsarnaevs have been on that empty campus and have known that a police car was parked between buildings off the street? We’ve examined those issues at great length here.’


Boston Bombings: New Information Casts Doubt on Story of Todashev Killing

Editor’s Note: Scott Horton recently interviewed the author of this piece. It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time. 

Privacy SOS reports:

‘In a stunning reversal, federal prosecutors claim in an October 2014 court filing that they have “no evidence” to suggest Tamerlan Tsarnaev “participated in” a triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts in 2011. Officials had previously leaked to the press assertions precisely contrary to the new declaration. The federal government’s new claim comes in response to motions filed by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys seeking information from the government about Tamerlan’s participation in the murders. Documents confirming Tamerlan’s involvement in the 2011 murders would help the defense show that the elder Tsarnaev intimidated his younger brother.

By claiming to possess “no evidence” that Tamerlan was involved in the slayings, the DOJ might very well succeed in its goal to keep secret records related to the Waltham investigation and sought by the defense. But the reversal also comes at a cost: the federal government’s credibility. The back and forth—first Tamerlan did it, now he didn’t—raises troubling questions about the accuracy of official leaks pertaining to not just the murders, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of a Chechen immigrant at the FBI’s hands in May 2013. It also shines a spotlight on the media’s now common practice of granting federal officials anonymity to discuss important events, and shows how that practice enables the propagation of unreliable information meant to shape narratives favorable to the government. Those narratives, while perhaps helpful to federal agencies, are not always accurate.’


FBI War on Marathon Bombing Witnesses Continues

James Henry writes for WhoWhatWhy:

The FBI’s apparent message to Tsarnaev’s defense team‘Since the Boston Marathon bombing a year and a half ago, the FBI appears to be intimidating, harassing, and silencing friends and acquaintances of the Tsarnaev brothers. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers have noticed it too—they’re having trouble getting anyone to talk to them, recent court papers reveal.

In what WhoWhatWhy previously described as the FBI’s “war on witnesses”, the Bureau seems to be employing a scorched earth strategy of destroying anything that might be of use to the “enemy.”’


Sociopathic Ex-Oakland Cop Killed Ibragim Todashev

NATO 3 get prison terms ranging from 5 to 8 years

Steve Schmadeke reports for the Chicago Tribune:

Cook County prosecutors raised the specter of the Boston Marathon bombings in asking for hefty sentences for three alleged anarchists convicted of making crude Molotov cocktails in the lead-up to the 2012 NATO summit, but a judge ended up imposing more modest prison terms Friday that could result in their release in less than two years.

Judge Thaddeus Wilson took the middle ground, sentencing the so-called NATO 3 to between 5 and 8 years in prison, well below the 14 years sought by prosecutors but more than the time served wanted by the defense. Wilson perhaps best explained his rationale by saying that the out-of-town men hadn’t been as cunning as the Three Musketeers as portrayed by prosecutors or as bungling as the Three Stooges as the defense contended.

The three-week trial of Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly marked the first test in Cook County of a state terrorism law enacted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. In a blow for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, a jury in February acquitted all three of the more serious terrorism charges but convicted them of felony counts of possessing an incendiary device and misdemeanor mob action.


Florida state attorney denies reports FBI agent in Todashev shooting cleared

Richard Luscombe writes for Guardian:

This 2013 police mugshot provided by the Orange County Corrections Department in Orlando, Fla., shows Ibragim Todashev.

Florida state prosecutors on Friday denied that they had cleared an FBI agent who shot dead a friend of the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev while interrogating him. The FBI is understood to have concluded that the officer who shot Ibragim Todashev, 27, was left with no alternative but to fire in self defence after being struck on the neck with a metal pole.

But the state attorney in Florida, Jeff Ashton, denied that he had come to the same conclusion. Ashton’s spokesman said he had completed his investigation but would make a final decision on how to proceed over the weekend. A review, by the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, is also understood to be complete.


Rachel Maddow Pushes New FBI Director To Release Report On The FBI Assassination Of Ibragim Todashev

US will seek death penalty against Boston bombings suspect

From BBC News:

The US government says it will seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement: “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision.”

Seventeen of 30 charges against the 20-year-old – including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill – carry the possibility of capital punishment.

The bombings killed three and injured more than 260 in April 2013.

Mr Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty and no trial date has been set.


Inspire Magazine: The Most Dangerous Download on Earth

From James Bamford for GQ:

Inside Brooklyn’s federal courthouse, a curving cylinder of greenish glass and gray steel, Lawal Babafemi sat silently with his attorney at the defense table as prosecutors got ready to present their case. It was September 27, 2013, a warm Friday in New York, and Babafemi, a 33-year-old Nigerian man with a neatly trimmed goatee, was dressed casually in a blue-and-white-striped polo shirt. It’s safe to say that he was the first magazine employee in the history of publishing to ever face a possible life sentence for trying to recruit writers.

Inspire, the magazine Babafemi allegedly worked for, is not your typical glossy. It’s published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and its special issue on “the Blessed Boston Bombings” contained twenty-two pages of glory and praise to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “They crossed their own finish line at 2:50 P.M.,” read one article in the English-language digital magazine. “The real worthy winners of the Boston Marathon were the Tsarnaev mujahideen brothers.” The issue hit its emotional crescendo on page 26 with a luminescent photo illustration of Tamerlan the martyr against a vision of heaven, a scarf tied loosely around his neck, designer sunglasses on his face, a pair of doves aloft in the sun-dappled clouds behind him.


Rachel Maddow questions the FBI execution of unarmed Ibragim Todashev and their actions since

The Alarming Mistakes Police Made After the Boston Bombing

From The Atlantic:

[…] I don’t want to minimize the pressure that police were under that day, or to understate the risks that they faced. But however generously or harshly one judges the performance of law enforcement, an explanation of what went wrong is needed to prevent future mishaps, and “the fog of war,” a metaphor born on chaotic battlefields, is not an acceptable explanation for a barrage of apparently inaccurate shots fired at a single unarmed suspect already confined in a boat beneath a tarp.

Recall too that, days later, law enforcement officials–one FBI agent and two detectives from the Massachusetts State Police–investigating the Boston bombing would shoot and kill an unarmed Ibragim Todashev at the end of an interrogation.

These episodes also bring to mind the Los Angeles area manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the disgruntled former LAPD officer who went on a killing spree. Police were chasing a 6 foot tall, 270 pound black man. Early one morning, they opened fire on a vehicle believing Dorner was inside. As it turned out, they were firing on two women delivering newspapers: Maggie Carranza, 47, and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez. They later said that there was no warning at all before police began riddling their vehicle with bullets.



The 6 Weirdest Things We’ve Learned Since 9/11

From Cracked:

I’m starting to think we overreacted to the terrorism thing.

It hit me last year as I was standing in the naked airport scanner again, listening to the faint gasps and then applause from the monitoring booth, and realized that I wouldn’t put up with that hassle to ward off the threat of, say, lightning. You know, like if scientists had figured out that you could reduce the already miniscule chance of being struck by merely standing outside and showing God your dick.

Anyway, that made me look back at the lessons we’ve learned in the 12 years since the 9/11 attacks, and I’ve got to say, it’s not encouraging. For instance, we found out that …


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sustained gunshot wounds to face and extremities

The backlash over Rolling Stone's cover photo of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev led to the release of new photos by Sgt. Sean Murphy on Thursday, July 18, of his capture. The images show Tsarnaev as he emerges from the boat where he hid, his face smeared with blood and multiple snipers' lasers fixed on him. <a href='' target='_blank'>View more photos from the aftermath of the Boston bombing</a>.From The Guardian:

Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was badly injured when taken into custody by federal agents in April, with multiple gunshot wounds, including one that had fractured his skull, according to unsealed court papers.

A trauma surgeon detailed the suspect’s condition in a hearing the day the Chechen immigrant, who was lying in a Boston hospital bed, was first charged over the bombing attacks that killed three people and wounded about 264.

Tsarnaev, now 20, is the survivor of a pair of brothers accused of carrying out the worst mass-casualty attack on US soil since 9/11. A pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs exploded on 15 April at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which was crowded with thousands of spectators, volunteers and athletes.

“He has multiple gunshot wounds, the most severe of which appears to have entered through the left side inside of his mouth and exited the left face, lower face. This was a high-powered injury that has resulted in skull-base fracture,” Dr Stephen Ray Odom of Beth Israel Medical Center testified on 22 April, according to court papers unsealed late Monday.


Abby Martin Blasts Rachel Maddow for 9/11 Comments

Tamerlan Tsarnaev: 21st century conspiracist

The suspected Boston bombersFrom Salon:

We already knew that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the apparent mastermind of the Boston Marathon bombing, “took an interest in Infowars,” the website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, but now the BBC’s investigative program Panorama reports that Tsarnaev had literature espousing all manner of anti-government conspiracy theories and even white supremacism.

After a months-long investigation into the bombing, including exclusive interviews with friends of Tamerlan and his brother Dzhokhar, Panorama found that Tsarnaev had articles claiming that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were perpetrated by the government, while another warned about “the rape of our gun rights.” The brother also subscribed to publications espousing white supremacy, including one that stated that “Hitler had a point.”

It complicates the picture of the Tsarnaev brothers presented in the media as simple home-grown jihadis, inspired by violent Muslim groups like al-Qaida.

The BBC describes the literature as “right-wing,” but it’s actually much more complicated than that. Tsarnaev illustrates how 21st century anti-government conspiracism melts down typical ideological barriers in a postmodern stew of various radicalisms, united by a common deep distrust of the government.


New York woman visited by police after researching pressure cookers online

Pressure cookerFrom The Guardian:

New York woman says her family’s interest in the purchase of pressure cookers and backpacks led to a home visit by six police investigators demanding information about her job, her husband’s ancestry and the preparation of quinoa.

Michele Catalano, who lives in Long Island, New York, said her web searches for pressure cookers, her husband’s hunt for backpacks and her “news junkie” son’s craving for information on the Boston bombings had combined somewhere in the internet ether to create a “perfect storm of terrorism profiling”.

Members of what she described as a “joint terrorism task force” descended on Catalano’s home on Wednesday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Piece on the above incident begins around 9:50 in the video below.

FBI Report: Agency Couldn’t Prevent the Boston Bombings

From The Atlantic Wire:

The FBI’s internal investigation into the lead-up to the Boston Marathon Bombings concluded that the agency couldn’t have done very much to prevent the attacks, according to a report from the New York Times. That’s despite a Congressional probe into the agency’s handling of a security review of Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years before the bombings.

The Unexplained FBI Assassination of Ibragim Todashev


Photographer who released Tsarnaev capture images suspended ~ CBS

CBS News

Photo: Massachusetts State Police

A Massachusetts state police photographer angered by Rolling Stone magazine’s latest cover of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has released never-before-seen photos of Tsarnaev just before he was taken into custody.

Pictures taken by Sgt. Sean Murphy, and first published by Boston Magazine, show a bruised and bloody Tsarneav emerging from the backyard boat he hid in after a confrontation with authorities that left his older brother and alleged bombing accomplice dead.



Boston Bombing: Fears Rolling Stone Cover ‘Will Make Kids Think Terrorism Is Cool’


Greg Palast: My War On Stupid Is Facing Defeat on Every Front ~ Vice

In his latest piece for Vice, Greg Palast covers the stupid media’s stupid coverage of the race for New York’s new mayor between a Weiner and a lady who isn’t interested and the Boston Bombings and their relation to another one-eyed monster, the NSA…

What Snowden uncovered is not some massive spying operation that could expose terrorist plots, but a massive invasion of the taxpayer’s wallet by connected consultants.

In the meantime, the guys who could have stopped the Boston Marathon attack by using what the FBI called, “old-fashioned police methods”, were short of both budget and brain cells to capture the killers.

Instead, they’re hunting Snowden and reading European embassy emails. Terrorists worldwide want to thank the US government for this colossal act of stupid.



FBI withholds autopsy of Tsarnaev associate ‘shot in head’ during questioning ~ RT

Abdulbaki Todashev, the father of Ibragim Todashev, shows photographs of his son's body at a mortuary during a news conference in Moscow May 30, 2013. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)RT

The FBI has ordered a Florida medical examiner’s office not to release the autopsy report of a Chechen man who was killed during an FBI interview in May over his ties to one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers.

The autopsy report for Ibragim Todashev, 27, killed by an FBI agent during an interrogation which took place in his apartment on May 22 was ready for release on July 8. However, the FBI barred its publication, saying an internal probe into his death is ongoing.

The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” according to statement by Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando.

The forensic report was expected to clarify the circumstances of Todashev’s death.The Bureau’s statement issued on the day of the incident provided no details of what transpired, saying only that the person being interviewed was killed when a “violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.”

Back in May Ibragim Todashev’s father showed pictures of his dead son’s body at a press conference in Moscow, revealing he had been shot six times.


Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tsarnaev pleads not guilty ~ AP

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Karen Brassard arrives at the federal courthouse for the court appearance by Tsarnaev in Denise Lavoie
Associated Press

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his face swollen and his arm in a cast, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges Wednesday in his first courtroom appearance since his dramatic capture in April.

Tsarnaev, 19, smiled crookedly – he appeared to have a jaw injury – at his sisters as he arrived in court. He looked much as he did in a photo widely circulated after his arrest, his hair curly and unkempt. He appeared nonchalant, almost bored.

He leaned toward a microphone and said, “Not guilty” in a Russian accent to 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. He made a kissing motion toward his family as he was led out of the courtroom. He could get the death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it.