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Top Billing! HNN Dr.Tim FurnishThe Ideology Behind the Boston Marathon Bombing 

…..Much of the world, including the twittering class, woke up to the relevance — if not existence — of Chechnya this past week. (The Tsarnaev brothers’ parents were Chechen, but Dzokhar was born in Kyrgyzstan and Tamerlan in Russia proper; both had also lived in Dagestan.) Still a part of Russia, despite violent efforts at independence, this small region is home to about 1.3 million people, mostly Sunni Muslims, and is located between the Black and Caspian Seas. Islamic militancy has been part of this Caucasus Muslim culture for at least two centuries, until recently mostly in the guise of the various Sufi jihads waged against their Orthodox Christian (or Marxist) Russian overlords — exemplified by that of Imam Shamil (d. 1859). (The Sufis are the mystics of Islam, usually peaceful but never pacifist.) Throughout the twentieth century the Sufis in Chechnya, Dagestan and environs — predominantly two orders known as the Naqshbandis and Qadiris — increasingly eschewed jihad and, in recent decades, their Islamic militancy mantle has been taken on by Muslims (both indigenous Chechen and foreigners, such as Arabs) of the more Wahhabi/Salafi tendency (who have even killed Sufi leaders there). Salafis are Sunnis who believe in emulating the salaf, “pious ancestors” of Muhammad’s time — think Primitive Baptists, but wielding swords. Wahhabis are a specifically Saudi Arabian type of Salafi, intellectual heirs of the Sunni fundamentalist Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) who had resurrected and repopularized the strict Sunni teachings of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) which, inter alia, included a dislike of Sufis (for their love of saint veneration, seen as shirk, “idolatry”) and the duty to fight jihad against any rulers deemed insufficiently Islamic as well as, a fortiori, non-Muslims.

This was the Chechen Islamic context which incubated both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before they came to the U.S. as young men and, after over a decade here, seemingly assimilated. However, Internet sleuthing by various outlets indicates that the elder Tsarnaev, at least, was being pulled back into strict Islamic norms: he was a purveyor of the online sermons of one Feiz Mohammed, whose views were so Islamically “extremist” they might have made Ibn Taymiyya blanch; he may, as well, have become enamored with the ideas of a Pan-Islamic Caucaus Emirate and may have received training from jihadists of that self-styled polity; finally, perhaps most tellingly, Tamerlan was influenced by Islamic eschatological teachings about the coming of the Mahdi.   

Foreign Policy J.M. Berger –Boston”s Jihadist Past 

….It will take time to discover whether there was a militant connection and, if there was, to what extent it is pertinent to the Tsarnaevs’ decision to bomb the marathon.

But if the lead pans out, it won’t be Boston’s first brush with that faraway war. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, Islamist foreign fighters operated robust recruiting and financing networks that supported Chechen jihadists from the United States, and Boston was home to one of the most significant centers: a branch of the Al Kifah Center based in Brooklyn, which would later be rechristened CARE International.

Al Kifah sprang from the military jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Through the end of the occupation, a network of centers in the United States helped support the efforts of Afghan and Arab mujahedeen, soliciting donations and recruiting fighters, including at least four from Boston who died in action (one of them a former Dunkin Donuts employee). When the war ended, those networks did not disappear; they refocused on other activities.

In Brooklyn, that network turned against the United States. The center’s leaders and many of its members helped facilitate the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and they actively planned and attempted to execute a subsequent plot that summer to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels in New York, which would have killed thousands.

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