Political Animal


April 19, 2013 10:28 AM Trails Leading To Chaos

By Ed Kilgore

Even as police look for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who may be wearing an explosive vest, the first intelligible (if not always intelligent) accounts about him and his slain older brother, Tamerlan, are trickling out of the Boston area. It appears Tamerlan (presumably named after the Central Asian medieval warlord) had exhibited via social media some common interests with Jihadists, as MoJo’s Adam Serwer explains. Dzhokhar, though, a student at the University of Massachusetts’ Dartmouth campus, was by early accounts a quiet and even gentle young man; everyone who knew him and has spoken so far is shocked he would be involved in anything like this. Meanwhile, the fear of being associated with the Boston bombings is so intense that the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has made sure journalists know the Tsarnaevs haven’t lived there in quite a few years, and in fact lived in Kazakhstan before entering the United States.

Though the temptation is great to put together the words “Chechen” and “Terrorist” and “Muslim” and come up with a stereotype, the truth is rarely that simple, particularly with multiple people involved. But despite the warnings all of us were making just yesterday that responsibility for the bombings might not be affixed for months or years, news is moving at an astonishing speed right now, so we shouldn’t have too long to wait for something approaching truth.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress’ Hayes Brown has some useful background about Chechnya and its connection to terrorist activity there and abroad.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Shane Taylor on April 19, 2013 10:50 AM:

    The first word that comes to my mind, after reading Serwer's post, is "millenarian." For an elaboration, see John Gray on _The Pursuit of the Millennium_:


  • c u n d gulag on April 19, 2013 10:50 AM:

    What the hell is Ramzan Kadyrov worried about?

    It's not like we invaded Saudi Arabia after 9/11!

    Oh, wait, that's right, that was the Cheney-Bush mis-administration.
    They would have attacked Mongolia, a land-locked country, after Pearl Harbor, if they were in charge back then.

    Besides, every Conservative knows Obama's a Muslim, so, again, what the hell is Ramzan Kadyrov worried about?

  • james on April 19, 2013 10:58 AM:

    @cund. I usually find your posts clever. But using this situation to criticize the Bush-Cheney administration seems in the same class as Ann Coulter using it to criticize immigration reform.

  • Rico on April 19, 2013 10:58 AM:

    Kind of hard to take Hayes Brown seriously when they write about boxing in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Boxing is in the summer Olympics and SLC was a winter Olympics.

  • Anonymous on April 19, 2013 11:08 AM:

    Im not as worried about anti-Muslim blowback, because if its true that the brothers are Chechen, that will confuse the living livid sh*t our of a lot of the morons on the right.

    But if I were Chick-fil-A, or KFC, Id hire extra security to protect my stores from people looking to take revenge on Them Chickens!!!

  • c u n d gulag on April 19, 2013 11:14 AM:

    Sorry, but I don't think it's in the same class at all.

    If W's Daddy had had been President, and gone into Mongolia in the 1930's but didn't "finish the job," I don't have any doubt that after the Japanese carriers and planes hit Pearl Harbor, W, if were also President, would have focused on Mongolia, instead of "The Land of the Rising Sun."

    Because he and Cheney were THAT f*cking stupid AND evil!!!

    It's a wonder we survived those 8 years.

  • c u n d gulag on April 19, 2013 11:16 AM:

    "Anonymous," with that pathetic chicken gag, was me, gulag.

    Maybe, instead of taking credit for it, I should have just let it lay there, like it was an egg.

  • cwolf on April 19, 2013 11:18 AM:

    I was wondering,,,
    Have any arrests been made in the West, TX bombing case that leveled half the town & killed maybe 60-70 (no one knows yet)?
    After all, it is known who the greedy perps are who are responsible for that blast.

  • sgetti on April 19, 2013 11:33 AM:

    Reports indicate the suspects in the bombing had guns and used them to kill a police officer and engage other police in a shoot-out. If conservatives want to de-rail or limit immigration reform by using these two as an excuse, one should ask how easy is it that 'non-citizens' acquired guns in the US?

  • biggerbox on April 19, 2013 11:34 AM:

    If this were really as much a movie script as it feels, the kid still on the run would be a naive younger brother who got screwed because he dutifully obeyed when crazy older brother decided to become a mad bomber without telling him, and had the kid drop a bag at the marathon without knowing what was in it. And just getting worse from there. Now his brother is dead, and he's the target of every cop in six states, and can't figure out how to give up without getting shot dead first.

    One of the most annoying things about how feverishly all these media types are speculating about things they can't possibly know is that they really aren't very creative in their speculation.

  • gregor on April 19, 2013 12:25 PM:


    I wonder if this is derived from Timur Lang who brought untold suffering - rape and maiming and murder and torture of the multitudes - to North West India centuries ago. Who would name their kid after such a despicable man?