How about so-called radical Islam, meaning jihad, or war on “infidels?”
The Associated Press found from interviews with officials and people who knew 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev — the suspect killed in a shootout with police — that he was embittered toward this country, “increasingly vehement in his Muslim faith” and exerted strong influence over younger brother Dzhokhar, 19, who was wounded before his capture.
In 2011, the Russian intelligence service asked the FBI to check on Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a radical Islamist, two law enforcement officials told the AP.
The FBI confirmed in a Friday statement: “The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”
The FBI’s response was to interview Tamerlan and relatives but said it found no domestic or foreign terrorism activity — and that apparently was the end of the story for the FBI. The agency said nothing about following up after Tamerlan came back to the United States after six months in Russia or thereabouts.
But if the FBI didn’t see any red flags, one Tsarnaev relative did. Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., said his nephew’s increased commitment to Islam resulted in their falling out. Tsarni said he talked to a family friend who gave another clue, saying Tamerlan had been influenced by a recent convert to Islam.
Another red flag, according to news reports, was Tamerlan Tsarnaev logging onto the website of an Australian Muslim jihadist calling himself Sheik Feiz Mohammad. He has urged that children become “soldiers defending Islam” and that they should be taught “to die as a mujahid.”
A 2007 British documentary showed the sheik saying of children, “Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom.” That’s the kind of stuff that was getting into Tamerlan’s head.
It flies in the face of what America ought to mean to the Tsarnaev brothers. Their family came to this country in 2002 as political refugees from their war-torn Chechnya, welcomed with open arms as the inscription on the Statue of Liberty invites: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
So the Tsarnaev family came, breathing the free air of America and taking advantage of the opportunities our country offers to refugees and other immigrants. The Tsarnaev brothers, according to police, repaid America by bombing the Boston Marathon.
Why? Again, it has all the earmarks of Islamist jihad. But a more important question: How does America prevent future attacks of this kind? A top-to-bottom review of immigration policies, counter-terrorism intelligence and security measures would be a good start.