• logo
  • logo
  • logo
Groping in dark: A foreign or domestic attack?
The attack at Boston marathon that caught everyone’s attention on April 15 has raised many unanswered questions.

The main questions of who could be behind the attack and why have ended up giving unsatisfying answers and created several conspiracy theories.

What has been made public about the attack, is the fact that explosion was caused by pressure cookers.

Similar kind of bombs were used in 2010 New York Square bombing attempt, which first brought allegations to those two attacks being related with each other.

The fact that pressure cooker bombs have been used in many terrorist attacks in South Asia and have also been favoured by Al Qaeda affiliated groups created discussions whether the attackers could be part of a bigger organized terrorist group.

However, as pressure cooker bombs are generally quite common homemade bombs and of relatively cheap cost, there is absolutely no basis to give ground for such allegations.

Even more so in view of the fact that no terrorist group has claimed responsibility - or taken credit - for this attack.

The fact that the explosive ingredients discovered have been of low quality supports the allegation of the attackers acting without major support-or at least not having (used) access to more sophisticated and expensive weaponry.

Chechen background

Until now two brothers have been blamed for the attack: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Much of the news following the announcement that claimed they are responsible for the attack, have concentrated on their Chechen background. And in the light of this information on their roots, there has been much misleading analysis.

First of all, it has to be noticed the two brothers, half-Chechen and half-Avar, had not spent much time in their homeland.

While Tamerlan had been born in Kalmykia (an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic at that time), Dzokhar was born in Kyrgyzstan.

The family lived in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan before immigrating to the United States in 2002. The older brother was a 15-year-old teenager while Dzokhar was just an 8-year old child when they moved to United States with their family.

Even if coming from a family that had been put through much suffering, it is quite clear neither of the brothers (or no-one of the family) had been into terrorist ideologies back that time, much less having any ties to terrorist groups. Or even into Islamic radicalism.

The involvement in jihadism and radical conversion into Islam has been seen as the main motive of the brothers. Indeed, in case of the older brother much evidence has been found about his recent radicalization.

In addition to being claimed in having troubles with integrating into his new society, he had no American friends.

At the same time, however, he was married to an American, and being into wrestling had also claimed he would have preferred to represent US in the competitions instead of Russia (for which he was applying for US citizenship).

Much attention is being drawn on the fact that he spent half of last year back in Dagestan, allegedly visiting his family. In this context the fact that the region is home to many Islamic radicals is often brought out.

And not only-in the light of Boston attacks, it has been reported, including by mainstream media, that Dagestan is a safe haven for Islamic militants whose sights are now trained on America as their main target.

Thus, there have been wide concerns over the possibility of Tamerlan having been indoctrinated to take up global struggle against the West.

Nevertheless, it should be taken into account that there has previously been no known direct or indirect attack against America in the region or any evidence of their interest in taking that target.

Vilayat Dagestan, one of the main jihadist and considered to be an Al-Qaeda linked group in the North Caucasus, has also issued a statement emphasizing that the group is in war with Russia and is not fighting against the United States of America.


While there appear to be many analysts who intend to build a “new radical Islamic threat” over the Boston bombing, with an origin in the “Islamic Emirate in the Caucasus”, it should be taken into account that the radicalization of Tamerlan started much before his trip to Dagestan.

No matter what the reasons were behind it, he obtained those reasons in his country of residence. Rather than identifying it a threat from a new radical Islam centre, it rather qualifies as a case of home-grown terrorist, who is being inspired by Jihadist propaganda on the Internet.

Thus the event would resemble the Madrid or London bombing, in 2004 and 2005 respectively-tragedies that came most unexpected for Europeans and caused even further shock when discovered that the attacks were caused by people who had grown up in the same society and country and opened their doors to them through asylum policies.

Perhaps another relevant parallel could be the case of Jose Padilla, an American citizen of Puerto Rican roots, who was arrested on suspicion of plotting a radiological bomb attack.

With a difference that he was about to use more “sophisticated” weapons, yet not many reactions concentrated on the possibility of his native land being a new hotspot of terrorism towards the north, even if his ties with Al Qaeda were revealed.

Fuelled with sentiments of “not fitting in”, home-grown terrorists tend to act driven by the hatred towards all Western and their environment.

Even if in case of Tamerlan these feelings can be observed - a possible reason for seeking his identity through radicalisation, Dzhokhar has been characterized as a “typical American” youth and popular among his friends.

Without any hints to his radicalization, or hatred towards the cultural environment he was living in, his involvement has been solely explained by being influenced by his brother who he always looked up to.

At the same time, it should be taken into account the fact of Tamerlan being reported for its violent behaviour, indicating to its aggressiveness and perhaps also unstable mind-irrespective of his religion.   

Instead of growing the fear of global jihad spreading from South Caucasus or worrying about Al Qaeda’s involvement in Chechnya, United States should rather reflect on the motives that could have turned two people educated and grown up in their country to plan such violent attack against them.

Instead of continuing to seek for external reasons and cautions, the attack should not be addressed as a terrorist attack committed by foreigners nor coordinated abroad.

However, the US action or intervention in the region of South Caucasus in the Caspian would throw a whole new light into the turn of events and would question again severely the motives behind these acts.