Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage–02 Sep 14

Gelzinis: Dzhokhar’s pal lost in translation
Peter Gelzinis
Boston Herald | August 22, 2014

GUILTY: Dias Kadyrbayev, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, with his defense attorney Robert Stahl at his left, pleads guilty yesterday before Judge Douglas P. Woodlock for impeding the investigation into the deadly attack.

Dias Kadyrbayev came to court yesterday flanked by his lawyer and his translator, a woman who looked a lot like my third-grade teacher.

She planted herself by Kadyrbayev’s left shoulder and only sprung into action on those occasions when the 20-year-old Kazakh’s brow wrinkled, or U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock would ask, “Do you understand me?”

The kid nodded politely, answered, “Yes sir,” and “No sir,” but never once, “I understand, your Honor.”

This bit of lost in translation became all the more curious when Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Seigmann rose to read six pages of stipulated facts about Dias’ role in trying to get rid of evidence that allegedly ties his UMass Dartmouth buddy, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to the marathon bombings.

The most chilling part, the one without a trace of an accent, was the fateful text exchange Dias had with Tsarnaev on Thursday, April 18, 2013, the night he saw his friend in those pictures the FBI flashed around the world. There was nothing “foreign” about it.

“Yo, bro, u saw the news?” Dias asks.

“Yea bro, I did,” Tsarnaev responds.

“For real?” texts Dias

“I saw the news,” Tsarnaev replies, then follows it up with a warning, “Better not text my friend.”

Though Dzhokhar tries to lighten things up with a quick “LOL,” Dias asks, “U saw yourself in there?” meaning strolling with backpacks among all those unsuspecting strangers on Boylston Street.

Dias then adds, “ahaha…hahaha.”

What kind of virtual laugh do you suppose that was? As it turns out, it became Dias Kadrybayev’s entry into a situation that would have him copping a plea to obstruction of justice. He would find himself up to his ears in a vicious terrorist incident.

When the brief courtroom proceeding was over, Kadrybayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, told reporters that he was convinced his client had no role in the planning of the bombing, or that his friends might be involved.

That might well be true. But when it comes to this horrific act, joining in the cover-up is just as bad. I rode the elevator down yesterday with a sergeant from the Somerville Police Department, a woman who politely declined to say anything beyond, “I needed to be here.”

This cop came to court yesterday to see a kid admit that he obstructed the justice that might well have prevented the murder of MIT police Officer Sean Collier, who had just learned he was going to join the Somerville police.

That text conversation, which is bound to play a role in Dzhokhar’s upcoming trial, ends with Tsarnaev telling Dias “If yu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there…” He ends with “Salam aleikum.”

Dias responds with: “what’s wrong with u?

He should have taken that question to the police.


Boston Marathon bombing: Dias Kadyrbayev guilty of obstructing justice
Prosecutors to ask for seven years or less, but judge will review deal
Associated Press | Aug 21, 2014

Attorney Robert Stahl speaks to media outside federal court in Boston, after his client, Dias Kadyrbayev, pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation into the deadly attack in April 2013. (The Associated Press)

A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty Thursday to impeding the investigation by removing incriminating evidence from Tsarnaev’s dormitory room several days after the deadly attack.

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, admitted in federal court that he removed Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder from Tsarnaev’s room.

Twin bombs placed near the finish line of the 2013 marathon killed three people and injured more than 260.

Under a plea agreement, federal prosecutors said they would ask for no more than seven years in prison. The agreement allows his lawyer to argue for a lesser sentence. The Kazakhstan-born Kadyrbayev also agreed not to fight deportation after he completes his prison sentence.

Judge will review plea agreement

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock set sentencing for Nov. 18 but did not immediately accept the plea agreement, saying he first wanted to review a report that will be prepared by the probation department.

Kadyrbayev’s decision to plead guilty came just two weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial and a month after his friend and co-conspirator, Azamat Tazhayakov, was convicted of identical charges by a jury.

During Tazhayakov’s trial, prosecutors described Kadyrbayev as the leader in the decision to remove the items, but said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan. They said Kadyrbayev was the one who threw away the backpack and fireworks, which were later recovered in a landfill.

Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, said his client made a "terrible error in judgment that he’s paying for dearly."

Stahl emphasized that Kadyrbayev — a native of Kazakhstan who came to the U.S. in 2011 on a student visa — "had absolutely no knowledge" that Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were planning to bomb the marathon and was "shocked and horrified" when he learned they were suspects.

He said Kadyrbayev, who was 19 at the time, "now understands he never should have gone to that dorm room, and he never should have taken any items from that room."

Backpack, laptop taken from dorm room

His plea agreement with prosecutors does not make any mention of him agreeing to testify against a third friend who was also charged. Robel Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators about being present when Kadyrbayev took the items from Tsarnaev’s room. Phillipos is scheduled to go on trial next month.

The backpack, fireworks and laptop were taken from Tsarnaev’s room hours after the FBI publicly released photographs and videos of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects in the bombing.

Prosecutors said Kadyrbayev exchanged text messages with Tsarnaev after seeing the photos, and Tsarnaev told him he could go to his dorm room and "take what’s there."

Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of explosive powder that can be used to make bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin in November.


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s College Friend Pleads Guilty
If a judge accepts the agreement, Dias Kadyrbayev, facing obstruction charges for disposing of Tsarnaev’s backpack after the Marathon bombings, will serve a maximum of seven years.
Susan Zalkind
Boston Daily | August 22, 2014

In a major turnaround, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friend Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty to charges he obstructed the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings in a court hearing on Thursday.

Wearing a blue shirt and jeans, 20-year-old Kadyrbayev admitted he knew Tsarnaev was a bombing suspect when he went into Tsarnaev’s UMass Dartmouth dorm room and took his laptop and a backpack containing fireworks, Vaseline, and a thumb drive, and then threw the backpack into a dumpster. His guilty plea is the result of an agreement worked out between prosecutors and the defense, whereby Kadyrbayev will only serve a maximum of seven years instead of the potential 25 if found guilty. Judge Douglas Woodlock must still approve the plea agreement for the deal to move forward.

The prosecution said it took 25 agents two days to search through a landfill to find the backpack, and once they did, the items and the backpack had been altered.

“Is it all true?” Woodlock asked.

“Yes,” said Kadyrbayev, with his head down.

He stood solemnly when entering his guilty plea, a shift from his typically jovial mood—he started the hearing by flashing his attorney Robert Stahl a toothy grin. Despite the serious nature of his charges, Kadyrbayev comes off as a bit of a class clown. He has already taken the stand in attempt to suppress statements he made to the FBI on the grounds that he did not understand his Miranda rights. Expert witnesses argued that his reliance on slang masked his inability to comprehend complex phrases. Back in June, his first word to the court was, “Sup?”

Stahl later told reporters that Kadyrbayev has spent the past year alone in his cell, reflecting on his actions. “He understands he should not have gone to that room,” he said. “He did not do so out of malice.” None of the Tsarnaev’s friends facing charges are accused of knowing about the bombing beforehand.

Kadyrbayev’s plea is just the latest in a series of legal happenings stemming from Tsarnaevs associates, coming just a month after his friend and co-conspirator Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty of obstruction after agreeing with Kadyrbayev to remove and throw out Tsarnaev’s backpack. He could face up to 25 years.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are both from Kazakhstan. They became friends with Tsarnaev in 2011 during their first semester at UMass because they all spoke Russian and, according to friends’ testimonies, bonded over an interest in video games and weed. In an opening statement, Myers argued that they originally went to Tsarnaev’s room get his marijuana.

Missing from the courtroom yesterday was Robel Phillipos, another friend of Tsarnaev’s who allegedly was in the dorm room when Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov took the backpack. Phillipos is not facing charges of obstructing justice but is facing one count of lying to the FBI. His trial is set for next month.

Phillipos grew up in the same Cambridge apartment complex as Stephen Silva, who was arrested last month for selling heroin and for possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number in February 2013. The Ruger model P95 is believed to be the same gun the Tsarnaevs allegedly used to shoot and kill MIT officer Sean Collier.

“He basically let him use it but having no idea what he was going to do with it, and next thing you know, he’s a terrorist,” said a friend of Silva’s who asked not to be named.

Silva was friends with Dzhokhar and has an identical twin Steven Silva, who was reportedly even closer to the Tsarnaevs. Stephen Silva was arrested in November 2013 and told law enforcement, “I smoke weed because my friend is the bomber.” Silva’s friends tell Boston magazine Silva grew increasingly depressed after the bombing. His next court hearing is set for October.

Two additional Tsarnaev friends, Khairullozhon Matanov and Konstantin Morozov, were detained in separate incidents on May 30 of this year. Matanov is charged with three counts of lying to federal authorities and two counts of obstructing justice. His trial is set for June 2015.

Morozov was detained on immigration charges. His attorney Carlos Estrada says Morozov was applying for asylum and was detained after FBI agents asked him to become an informant. Morozov refused.

Tsarnaev’s capital case is set to start in November. The emerging theme from the testimony and documents of Tsarnaev’s associates’ cases is the younger Tsarnaev’s cool demeanor in the days after the bombings. In a video released in Tazhayakov’s trial, Tsarnaev appears to smile nonchalantly on the way to the gym, just a day after the bombings.


Legal analyst Tom Hoopes discusses Kadyrbayev plea
7News Boston WHDH-TV | Aug 21, 2014

BOSTON (WHDH) – Dias Kadyrbayev, a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges Thursday.

Legal analyst Tom Hoopes weighed in on the hearing. He said the outcome of the Azamat Tazhayakov’s trial likely influenced Kadyrbayev’s plea.

"I think probably if they tried this case, exactly the same thing was likely to happen, at least that’s what the defendant and his lawyer thought. The prosecution was going to call all kinds of witnesses and this defendant wasn’t going to have anybody to call, and in this environment, the jury was probably going to find him guilty, and as a result of all that, he was going to do a longer sentence," he said.


Guilty plea opens evidence vs. Tsarnaev
Experts: Prosecutors must prove conspiracy
Bob McGovern
Boston Herald | August 22, 2014

Evidence dug up as part of yesterday’s guilty plea by a former college roommate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be used against the accused Boston Marathon bomber if prosecutors can show they were part of a conspiracy to thwart investigators, according to legal experts.

“If people are considered co-conspirators, anything one says can possibly be used in the case of another,” said Peter Elikann, a Boston criminal defense attorney. “If these guys were doing anything to help Dzhokhar out, and he knew about it, they would be considered co-conspirators since they worked together to achieve a goal — to get rid of the evidence.”

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to charges that he hindered the investigation into the deadly 2013 bombings. He could spend up to seven years behind bars if Judge Douglas Woodlock approves the agreed-upon plea.

As part of his plea, Kadyrbayev admitted to a series of facts, including a text exchange with Tsarnaev that occurred after the attacks.

One comment could show that Kadyrbayev and pal Azamat Tazhayakov conspired with Tsarnaev to hide a backpack and laptop that were key aspects of the obstruction charge Kadyrbayev admitted to.

“If yu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there (SIC),” Tsarnaev texted Kadyrbayev, after it became clear that Tsarnaev was involved in the twin bombings that killed three and injured more than 260.

The statement, which was made before Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov raided Tsarnaev’s University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room, could show that they were in a conspiracy to obstruct the investigation. If prosecutors prove the conspiracy, Tsarnaev’s words could be used against him as a co-conspirator, even if he isn’t indicted as one, according to an expert.

“As long as the government can establish someone is a co-conspirator in the charged conspiracy, they don’t have to be indicted,” said Brad Bailey, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “It is sufficient to label someone an unindicted co-conspirator. However, the government still must prove the existence of the conspiracy charged and that the unindicted co-conspirator was part of it.”

Tazhayakov was found guilty of obstruction and conspiracy charges last month. He faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he’s sentenced Oct. 16. Kadyrbayev is set to be sentenced Nov. 18.

A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators.

Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage–01 Sep 14

The Tsarnaev Women Tell Chechnya’s Story
Julia Ioffe
The Moscow News | 23/07/2014

There were three important women in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s life—five, if you count his sisters—and each is a window into the culture to which he seemed to cling in the final years of his life.

First, there is his aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva, a Chechen refugee from Kyrgyzstan and now a resident of Toronto, by way of the U.S. In a press conference the day her nephew Dzhokhar was being hunted in the streets of suburban Boston, Maret, with her rust-colored hair and silvery manicured nails, gave a magnificent performance. She was brassy and assertive, commanding the attention of the reporters calling to her with questions. “I’m lawyer from back home,” she declared, exhorting the FBI to prove to her that her nephews were responsible for the bombing of the Boston marathon. “How difficult is that? Give me evidence!” she demanded, flicking her hand into the air as if peppering the press with her disdain. She talked about her nephews, but also about her youth in Kyrgyzstan, where the Tsarnaev brothers spent part of their childhoods. As a Chechen, Maret said she had to prove her mettle, to go over and above her Kyrgyz and Kazakh peers because, unlike them, “I was not in my land.” Asked about Tamerlan’s radicalization, Maret acknowledged that he did indeed turn to Islam in recent years. “He started praying five times a day, but I don’t see what’s wrong with that,” she said. “You just say words, gratitude to Creator.”

Maret is the old Chechnya: secular, Soviet, severed from its roots, paranoid and cynical in its knowledge, acquired painfully and firsthand, of what a government can do to its subjects. When Maret talked about her nephews being framed, she knew what she was talking about: “Lawyer from back home” actually meant state prosecutor, a key actor in a judicial system that was in practice a political bludgeon, one that actively invented charges against potential opponents. Maret also talked about Islam as a thing that is both native and foreign to her. Islam was something into which she was born, and which, to her, likely, is a set of pleasant traditions and holidays that give her a sense of belonging to an old history. For someone who had a Soviet upbringing, being born a Muslim was akin to being born Chechen; it was just another mark of ethnicity, and, towards the end of the Soviet experiment, didn’t mean much more than having a non-Slavic name.

Enter her sister-in-law, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, wife to her brother Anzor, mother to her nephews Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. You look at that old baby photo of Tamerlan from the late 1980s, and you see Zubeidat looking like a more sullen version of Maret. Her hair is uncovered and fashionably teased; her dress is secular, even stylish. At a press conference in Makhachkala, Dagestan, a quarter of a century later, she is a woman transformed, though the long, morose face is still the same. In between, she had moved from the wasteland that was nominally Buddhist Kalmykia, where Tamerlan had been born, to nominally Muslim Kyrgzystan, had another son, Dzhokhar, and two daughters, emigrated to America, gone to beauty school, married off her older son and daughters with uneven success, was arrested for shoplifting, divorced her husband, and moved back with him to her native Dagestan.

Somewhere along the way, Zubeidat found Islam in a way Maret never did.1 It is said that Zubeidat pushed Tamerlan toward the old faith when he started to lose his way, and it is also said that Mikhail Allakhverdov, the mysterious “Misha,” a Ukrainian-Armenian convert to Islam, had pushed Zubeidat or Tamerlan or both closer to Islam. And from there, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar seem to have moved on to more intense forms of the religion, including an interest in the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. It is something that seems to have percolated through the house and into Zubeidat’s newfound faith: She told one of her customers that the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job designed to turn the world against Muslims. “My son knows all about it,” Zubeidat is said to have claimed . “You can read on the Internet.”

Zubeidat is the new Chechnya, and the new Dagestan. At the Makhachkala press conference, she is dressed in a long-sleeved black caftan, her face framed tightly by a black and white hijab. Her mourning is expressive and theatrical, almost Middle Eastern. She talks about how she regrets moving to America— “why did I even go there?”—about how she expected America to keep her children safe, but instead “it happened opposite,” she says, weeping. “America took my kids away.” If the Tsarnaevs hadn’t emigrated, Zubeidat contends, “my kids would be with us, and we would be, like, fine.”

That, in the new Chechnya and the new Dagestan, is highly unlikely. While the Tsarnaevs were in Kyrgyzstan and America, the region began to change rather violently. After the First Chechen War ended in 1996, Chechnya became a mix of lawless wilderness rife with violence and kidnapping, and pockets ruled by fundamentalist warlords, like Aslan Maskhadov. After a second war between Russia and Chechnya broke out in 1999 and dragged on for years, Vladimir Putin installed Ramzan Kadyrov as president of Chechnya. Kadyrov was the son of a separatist mufti and led a vicious militia that switched to the Russian side early in the second war, and become allied with the FSB.

Kadyrov, who now posts photographs of his devout family at play or going on Muslim pilgrimages on his Instagram account, is accused of grotesque human rights violations. He now rules Chechnya with a mix of terror and a torrent of money from Moscow. He has led Chechnya down the path of increasing Islamization. Women are now required to cover up, lest they be harassed by the authorities or, worse, subject to paintball attacks by Kadyrov’s modesty vigilantes. Kadyrov has also voiced his support of honor killings, a rather stark turn for the once secular republic. “Now Chechen women must wear hijab and long dress with long sleeves to go anywhere out of home. There have been many situations of the public humiliation of those who tried to resist,” a Chechen woman told me. She asked to remain anonymous for fear for her family’s safety. “The previous generation was under the radicalization of Wahhabi regime during 1996-1999, but the Wahhabis lost, they didn’t achieve the goal to cover all Chechen women with hijab. But now the government has achieved that goal. This young generation of radicalized girls and boys might be a real threat to the society in the nearest future.”

Even before this policy had firmly taken root, the region became a source of unique terrorism: the female suicide bomber. The first woman to detonate herself was 22-year-old Khava Baraeva, who, in 2000, drove a truck packed with explosives into a local Russian military base, killing three. She was going after the commander who had killed her husband. Other Chechen and Dagestani women followed her lead, blowing up military posts as well as civilian targets inside Russia. Two women, for example, simultaneously brought down two Russian airliners in 2004, killing 89, and two young Dagestani women blew themselves up in the Moscow metro, in March 2010, killing 40. Half of the terrorists who seized the Dubrovka theater in Moscow in 2002 were women, strapped with explosives. Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of suicide bombings originating in the region are perpetrated by women.

The women have come to be known in Russia as “Black Widows.” At home they are known as shakhikdi, the Russianized feminine form shakhid, or martyr. “A lot of the women in these radical Islamic groups, for example, in Indonesia, they don’t get personally involved in frontline warfare but they raise their sons so that if their father is killed, they can step right away into his shoes,” says Mia Bloom, a scholar at Penn State’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism, and author of Bombshell, a book about women suicide bombers. “Women act as the glue within the terrorist cell,” she explains. “The daughter of one cell leader will marry a cell leader in another area to create linkages, like in 15th century European courts. And the women are to make sure that their men stayed fierce.” Bloom adds that, though it’s hard to do this in the U.S., in conflict zones “the mothers will convey a certain ideology or worldview to the children.” Others, like Mariam Farhat, a Hamas activist, encouraged her sons to go on suicide missions, and publicly bemoaned the fact that she didn’t have more sons to send into battle.

Chechen and Dagestani women took it one step further; they went into battle themselves. It is a stunning paradox, given that at home they live in what Bloom calls “an extraordinarily patriarchal society—so much so that the women at the Dubrovka theater were wearing explosive belts, they were not the ones with the detonators.” The man is the means and the ends of a Chechen home. When a Chechen woman is married, she is not allowed to speak at the wedding. Often, her relatives can’t even come. It is a celebration of the man’s acquisition. “In a Caucasian family, where the man dominates, woman is raised to take care of the man and to sacrifice for the man,” the Chechen woman told me. “The Caucasian code of ethics requires the woman to be modest and quiet. But during the war in Chechnya I have witnessed so many times how Chechen women would step before tanks and armed soldiers, aiming weapons at them, if their men were in danger of being captured or killed. So, this socially required behavior changes when it comes to a life and death issue. Mothers are ready to sacrifice for their sons, sisters for their brothers, wives for husbands, and so on.”

Though Zubeidat refuses to accept her sons’ guilt—“No, never,” she said that day in Makhachkala—and though a Russian wiretap caught her talking with Tamerlan about jihad, it seems unlikely that she would strap herself with explosives and charge forth against the enemy. Chechen and Dagestani mothers usually don’t. And that’s where Katherine Russell comes in, especially after a woman’s DNA was said to have been found on a fragment of the bomb.

Russell, the daughter of a Rhode Island doctor, met Tamerlan at a night club, converted to Islam, and, after marrying the elder Tsarnaev brother, reportedly became more observant and began to pull away from her family. She went to work while her husband stayed home. According to her friends, he was often abusive, calling her a “prostitute” and hurling furniture at her. This too is unfortunately common in the culture: Tamerlan’s naturalization was held up when he faced charges for slapping his girlfriend; his father, in an interview with The New York Times, wondered aloud at the strangeness of this country, where “you can’t touch a woman.”

But unlike a black widow, and unlike Zubeidat and Maret, when her husband was accused of blowing up the Boston Marathon and then died in a shoot-out with police, Russell, the American, did not pick up arms, verbal or physical, to avenge her man. She walked away. His violent attack on the state did not bond her to him; rather, it seemed to rip her out of his orbit, to shame and terrify her where, had Tamerlan been a radical in Dagestan, it may have brought her a certain grief-tinged honor. Instead, Russell issued statements in which she expressed her ignorance of the plot—the DNA was found not to be hers—as well as her shock and her family’s grief for the victims of the bombing. Most tellingly, she declined to claim Tamerlan’s body. Instead, it was claimed by his sisters, who though Americanized and horrified by Tamerlan’s act, said they would give their brother a proper Muslim burial.


Boston Marathon suspect’s sister allegedly threatened to bomb boyfriend’s ex
Associated Press | August 27, 2014

NEW YORK –  Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s sister was arrested Wednesday on suspicion she threatened to bomb a woman who previously had a romantic relationship with her boyfriend.

Ailina Tsarnaeva, who lives in North Bergen, N.J., made the threat against an upper Manhattan woman via telephone on Monday, police said. She turned herself in at a Manhattan police precinct, and police charged her with aggravated harassment.



Several media outlets reported that Ms. Tsarnaeva told the Harlem woman she had "people who can go over there and put a bomb on you."

Officers gave Mr. Tsarnaeva an appearance ticket and released her pending a Sept. 30 court date.

A telephone number linked to Mr. Tsarnaeva was disconnected. Her lawyer, George Gormley, said he had left his office and would speak Thursday.

Ms. Tsarnaeva has been required to check in with Massachusetts probation officers since prosecutors said she failed to cooperate with a 2010 counterfeiting investigation.

Prosecutors said Ms. Tsarnaeva picked up someone who passed a counterfeit bill at a restaurant at a Boston mall and "lied about certain salient facts during the investigation."

At a hearing last October, Mr. Gormley said Ms. Tsarnaeva was pregnant with her second child and was unlikely to flee.

Ms. Tsarnaeva once lived in Cambridge, Mass., at an apartment linked to her brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who were the subjects of an intense manhunt in the Boston area in the days after the deadly April 2013 marathon bombing.

Records show Ms. Tsarnaeva now lives with a sister, Bella Tsarnaeva.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with building and planting the two pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the marathon’s finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunbattle with police.


Defense Seeks to Move Trial on Boston Marathon Bombing
NYT | AUG. 8, 2014

BOSTON — Citing “an overwhelmingly massive and prejudicial storm of media coverage” here, lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused in last year’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, pressed their case this week for moving his trial to Washington.

In papers filed here in federal court, Judy Clarke, the lead defense lawyer, wrote in response to prosecutors’ arguments: “Although the government insists that Mr. Tsarnaev has not been portrayed in a negative light, ‘but rather [as] the sympathetic young man who appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone,’ the actual data show he has been portrayed as a monster, a terrorist, depraved, callous and vile. He is viewed as an outsider, a foreigner, disloyal and ungrateful.”

The defense team had already sketched out its arguments for moving the trial, which is scheduled to begin in early November. In papers filed in June, the defense said its research had found an “overwhelming presumption of guilt” in Massachusetts against Mr. Tsarnaev in the bombings of April 15, 2013, which left three people dead and more than 260 wounded. Mr. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the 30 counts against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty.

In filings on Thursday evening, the defense sought to bolster those earlier arguments with almost 10,000 pages of supporting documents. They included extensive analyses of news media coverage and community attitudes performed by Edward J. Bronson, a professor emeritus at California State University, Chico.

Mr. Bronson was part of the team that argued unsuccessfully for the insider-trading trial of Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, to be moved out of Houston, where the company was based. The court in that case ruled that pretrial publicity did not preclude a fair trial.

The Tsarnaev case is more frequently compared to that of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people were killed. The court held that prejudice against Mr. McVeigh in Oklahoma was so great that he could not obtain a fair trial there, and it moved the proceedings to Denver. In that case, the federal courthouse where the trial would have been held had been damaged in the bombing, and waiting for repairs would have delayed the start of the trial.

In papers filed here, Mr. Bronson said the Tsarnaev case “is more like the Oklahoma City bombing case, where a whole state was found by the trial court to be biased, than the city of Houston in the Skilling case.”

Ms. Clarke, a staunch opponent of the death penalty, added that the marathon bombing “has been portrayed, and is likely perceived, as a direct attack on Boston, its institutions, its traditions and each of its residents.”

Mr. Bronson said his analysis of coverage by The Boston Globe showed that it had run 2,420 articles on the bombing in a 15-month period, a volume that he called “extraordinarily high.” The Globe’s themes, words, phrases and passages constituted inflammatory overload, he said.

Brian McGrory, editor of The Globe, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the marathon bombing, said in response, “We believe our coverage to be fair, accurate and comprehensive, and will let our work speak for itself.”

It is not clear when the judge in the case, George A. O’Toole Jr., will decide whether the trial should be moved. The government will probably ask for time to respond to the latest filings.

Jeremy Sternberg, a former federal prosecutor in Boston and now a partner in the Boston office of the law firm of Holland & Knight, said the defense filings indicated that there were jurisdictions outside Boston, like Washington, that might be less prejudiced. But, he said, “they have not demonstrated that you can’t find a fair and impartial jury” in eastern Massachusetts.

Tsarnaev friend convicted of obstructing Boston bombings probe

Lawrence Crook III, Jason Hanna and Susan Candiotti
CNN | July 22, 2014

Boston (CNN) — A federal jury on Monday found a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of obstructing the investigation into the 2013 attack.

The jury found Azamat Tazhayakov guilty of obstructing justice and conspiring to obstruct justice, in connection with the removal of a backpack with potential evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the bombings.

Among the images released during the trail was this one of a backpack, alleged to have been taken from Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room and thrown in the garbage. The FBI says it later recovered it from a landfill. Azmat Tazhayakov is accused of helping ditch a laptop and the backpack believed to belong to schoolmate Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Jurors indicated in a verdict questionnaire that they didn’t believe a separate allegation — involving the removal of a laptop computer from the same dorm room — amounted to obstruction or conspiracy.

But his attorneys said they’ll appeal the verdict, maintaining that a different defendant was the one who removed the backpack and put it into a garbage bin, and that the jury was under pressure by a community upset by the bombings to find Tazhayakov guilty.

"He never took a backpack out of the dormitory. … We will certainly push that the evidence, and my client’s intent did not match up with the actions of the case," Tazhayakov attorney Mathew Myers told reporters Monday.

Sentencing for Tazhayakov, who could get up to 25 years in prison, is scheduled for October. The verdict came in the first trial related to the April 15, 2013, bombings that killed three people and injured more than 200 others.

Tazhayakov’s mother wept loudly in court when the verdict was read. Tazhayakov spoke briefly to his parents before he was escorted out of the courtroom.

Prosecutors accused Tazhayakov and his roommate, fellow Kazakh national Dias Kadyrbayev, of trying to protect Tsarnaev three days after the bombings by removing a backpack and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which Tazhayakov also attended.

Prosecutors alleged that Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov took the laptop to their apartment, and that Kadyrbayev, with Tazhayakov’s knowledge, tossed the backpack in a trash bin. Authorities eventually found the backpack — containing Vaseline, a thumb drive and fireworks — in a landfill.

Kadyrbayev is awaiting trial on the same charges and has pleaded not guilty. Another friend, Robel Phillipos, pleaded not guilty to making false statements. None of Tsarnaev’s friends is accused in the bomb plot itself.

Prosecutors told jurors Tazhayakov knew the identity of the suspected bombers — Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev — before the public found out, allegedly texting Kadyrbayev, "i think they got his brother," hours before the public knew their names or their relationship to one another.

The friends recognized the Tsarnaev brothers after authorities released video and still photos asking for the public’s helping finding the two men, prosecutors said.

Kadyrbayev told his friends that he believed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "used the Vaseline ‘to make bombs,’ or words to that effect," an indictment against him reads.

The government said Tsarnaev texted Kadyrbayev after the bombings and told him he could go to his dorm room and take what he wanted. Kadyrbayev showed that text to Tazhayakov, the government alleged.

Authorities alleged that the friends picked up the backpack and the laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room on April 18, 2013, shortly before Tsarnaev was taken into custody.

The FBI interviewed the friends as part of the bombing investigation, and lawyers for Tazhayakov said he did everything he could to help the probe when he spoke with investigators. Based on that information, authorities found Tsarnaev’s backpack in the landfill, his attorneys said.

Daniel Antonino, one of the jurors in Tazhayakov’s case, said the panel found him guilty of obstruction because "the backpack was simply taken and discarded like they were getting rid of evidence."

"They just threw it in the trash, so that’s obstructing justice. Just taking it from the dorm room, we felt, was obstructing justice," Antonino said.

Antonino said the jury didn’t feel the same way about the laptop, because "they didn’t destroy it," and because jurors felt the friends saw the laptop as something they should take for its potential monetary value. Antonino cited Tsarnaev’s alleged text to Kadyrbayev, inviting him to take what he wanted.

Myers, Tazhayakov’s attorney, said his client was being unfairly punished for what Kadyrbayev is alleged to have done. The only thing Tazhayakov took from Tsarnaev’s room, Myers said, was a pair of headphones that rightfully belonged to him.

"I understand we’ve spoken about pronouns in this case: ‘They did this, they did that.’ (But) my client did not leave that dorm room with a backpack," Myers said. "He can only control what people do to a certain extent. … ‘They’ did not do anything.

"Dias Kadyrbayev went and took that backpack to a Dumpster. My client wasn’t part of that. How a jury claims that my client had intent to do that with Dias, I guess, is a misconstruing of the plain evidence."

Myers said his team also would object to the court’s verdict questionnaire, which asked for both charges whether Tazhayakov should be found guilty because of the backpack, the laptop or both. Myers said the jurors might have thought that saying no to the laptop was significant — perhaps thinking they were giving Tazhayakov a break — when in fact it did no such thing.

"We knew that could be misleading to the jury," Myers said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev awaits trial, having pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges tied to the bombing and the subsequent pursuit of him and his brother, Tamerlan.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police days after the bombing.


Marathon suspect’s lawyers want hearing on leaks
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev facing charges in fatal bombing
WCVB | Jul 25, 2014


BOSTON —Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have renewed their request for a judge to hold a hearing on leaks to the news media.

Last month, a judge issued a stern warning to prosecutors about former or current members of their team speaking to the media after Tsarnaev’s lawyers objected to interviews retired FBI agents gave around the anniversary of the deadly 2013 bombings.

The request came after several news outlets this week reported that investigators believe a friend of Tsarnaev provided the gun authorities say was used by Tsarnaev and his brother in the fatal shooting of an MIT police officer several days after the bombings.

On Friday, Tsarnaev’s lawyers asked the judge to hold a hearing to determine what instructions were given to law enforcement about not talking to the media.

Boston Marathon a case study in lessons learned following last year’s bombing tragedy

Lasky, Steve | Apr 21, 2014

Tighter security and attention to intelligence gathering strengthens prepardedness for storied event

Boston Marathon a case study in lessons learned following last year’s bombing tragedy

Things were different at the Boston Marathon this year. Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 and the second oldest runner to ever take the crown. And unlike past races where it was a virtually open venue for both spectators and participants alike, strict physical security measures and a robust police presence made for long security lines, barricaded race routes, random searches, bans on backpacks and a zero tolerance for rogue runners who used to be part of the Marathon’s charm – remember Rosie Ruiz? The Marathon also accommodated more than 9,000 additional runners who failed to cross the finish line in 2013 because of the horrific terrorist bombing at the finish line of last April’s Marathon.

This year’s race also figured to be a lot different for Bonnie Michelman, the Director of Police, Security and Outside Services at Mass General Hospital. The devastating attack put Michelman and her entire facility on the frontline in 2013, as Mass General was the designated primary hospital for the race. Her facility wound up treating close to 300 casualties as a result of the bomb attacks.

"The preparations for last year’s event were prudent and appropriate for both the city and my facility. No one could have ever anticipated the unforeseeable nature and horror of this event. You can never plan for every contingency, for every event, and this was by far a startling example of that," said Michelman, who pointed out that the situation was made even more difficult due to the longitudinal nature of the event.

"This was an extremely disruptive disaster for many organizations, including mine. It wasn’t a four or five hour disaster – it was a multi-day disaster. We went into to Tuesday still gathering evidence, looking for the suspects, trying to reunite families, trying to identify comatose patients; and then on Thursday we had to ramp up for a Presidential visit," she continued. "So we had a huge emergency preparedness response to those dignitary visits. Then Friday, we had an unprecedented city lockdown that created all sorts of issues for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have 8,500 employees here at Mass General that takes public transportation to work, which was completely shut down."

Michelman has been a long-time key player in the region’s disaster preparedness efforts. The city of Boston regularly conducts disaster and emergency preparedness exercises throughout the year, with a major training event each May. There are also numerous table-top exercises conducted among the public-private partners, MEMA and FEMA.

"The endless drills and preparedness training took what was an extremely bad event to a level that was manageable in many aspects. The fact that we had 281 people who were severely injured and they all survived, showcased the fact that this city was extremely well prepared," Michelman added. "The response and result was a tribute to all involved – from police and fire to our EMS and medical teams that were at the race, plus the Boston Athletic Association that coordinated the race, down to our hospitals. Everyone was unbelievable in the level of response."

Michelman’s comments certainly seem to reflect the report released last week by the Department of Homeland Security titled "Boston One Year Later: DHS’s Lessons Learned," detailing three topics which were a focus of attention in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. The report discussed the "importance of partnerships," the "need for effective and reliable communications," and the need to further boost anti-radicalization efforts.

Massachusetts has been the recipient of more than $1 billion from 22 DHS grant programs since 2002, including $370 million for the Boston urban area. DHS grants issued to local law enforcement helped prepare for a quick response to the bombing and identification of the suspects. According to the report, "DHS grants, training and workshops as well as drills and exercises throughout the Northeast region, and specifically in Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, built preparedness capabilities to enhance responses to complex, catastrophic attacks. Participants credited these investments for the coordinated and effective response to the bombings by law enforcement, medical, and other public safety personnel."

Learning from past mistakes and creating workable solutions has been a couple of the key elements Chuck Brooks thinks sets Boston and the surrounding area apart when it comes to assessing its emergency management needs and implementing strategic plans that work. Brooks, Vice President, Client Executive for DHS at Xerox said the most significant development has been the federal, sate, and local first responder communities recognizing past shortfalls in national emergencies and closely examining successes and failures from Boston, especially in the areas of planning, coordination and inter-operable communications.

"One outcome of reviewing the incident discovered that the pre-positioning of medical first responders for the marathon greatly helped in the triage efforts for victims on the scene. In the past as a matter of EMS (emergency medical services) protocols, medical first responders waited for law enforcement to clear arrival before they responded. The pre-staged medical services on the scene may become more standardized for security planning at future public events," said Brooks.

He added that another big development has seen federal, state and local communities have become even more engaged in learning how to improve working in "relationship preparedness" to be able to better respond and be more resilient in a future emergency. Brooks also cited the just released report commissioned by then DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, noting "that funds were used to "equip and train tactical and specialized response teams specifically in in IED (improvised Explosive Device) detection, prevention, response, and recovery, including SWAT teams and Explosive Ordinance Disposal canine detection teams among other law enforcement units."

Knowing how to scramble through the federal funding maze and asking the right questions is a crucial aspect of properly ramping up emergency preparedness planning. Brooks stressed that DHS, and particularly FEMA, have been active in promoting the availability for training.

"From the defense draw-down overseas, a great deal of equipment is being made available to state and local public safety professionals. In most states the governor operates a homeland security committee to evaluate and prioritize needs in various state municipalities. There is a lot of paperwork involved in grant making applications, but and DHS officials are accessible and willing to help," Brooks pointed out. "My recommendation for state and local officials is to also look to private firms that specialize in securing grants under the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), and DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorates’ Federal Protective Service (FPS). Each program has their own requirements, processes and timing."

While most experts praised the preparation and the actions of Boston’s first responders and healthcare facilities in the aftermath of last year’s Marathon bombings, the most glaring weakness proved to be the lack of shared intelligence. Reports from ABC News immediately after the bombing said U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) National Targeting Center "re-vetted" all flights that departed earlier in the day from Boston, New York, and Newark airports to identify potential suspects.

When a review of DHS’s "name-matching capabilities" was completed, it discovered a misspelling of "Tamerlan Tsarnaev," the older suspect of the two accused Boston bombers. This mistake apparently allowed him to return unnoticed to the United States after a trip to Russia, despite previous alerts from Russian intelligence. DHS has now improved its ability to detect variations of names derived from a wide range of languages.

It was also reported that Boston Police Chief Ed Davis said he was not notified about Tsarnaev before the attacks despite previous FBI investigations of Tsarnaev, but now DHS has improved its system of sharing information with local officials about potential threats.

"Intelligence sharing has been also highlighted as an area of focus for improvement. There was a revelation that law enforcement had been warned about the threat of religious extremist Tamerlan Tsarnaev and should have been alerted. The problem is that it is difficult and involves many resources to track and continually monitor every potential threat, especially that of the Lone Wolf," said Brooks. "We are a nation of soft targets and openness. New technologies such as data analytics, license plate reading, and facial recognition cameras can be employed for intelligence and forensic purposes but there is always an issue to consider regarding the balance of security with freedom and privacy."

Perhaps no one is more seasoned at understanding the challenges of large venue special events than William Rathburn, who served as the Los Angeles Police Department’s Planning Coordinator for the 1984 Olympic Games when he was LAPD’s Deputy Chief; then as the Director of Security for the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 – which at the time was the largest Olympic security undertaking in the Games’ history, with budget of $100 million and staff of 17,224 security personnel. Rathburn also was Chief of Police for the City of Dallas, the seventh largest police department in the nation.

Rathburn admitted that protecting Olympic venues may have been a bit easier than open events like a Marathon for the simple reason that defined security perimeters could be established and protected. Putting in a secured screening process and vetting the credentials of everyone associated with an Olympics provided safeguards his colleagues in Boston did not enjoy.

That being said, Rathburn firmly believed that a breakdown in the intelligence gathering process contributed greatly to the Boston tragedy.

"Intelligence is the one thing that is important in any event. Intelligence is the key element in your pre-planning and during the event. It takes on even more importance in an open venue event like the Marathon. It is impossible to provide security for a 26-mile course. If you harden portions of it – the most vulnerable areas — you can either discourage them or move them further out. That magnifies the importance of solid intelligence," said Rathburn.

Rathburn added that protocols have changed over the years with a greater focus on inter-agency communication than ever before. "I grew up in a professional environment where you had an inter-agency coordination center during a major event and that was a first responder’s main point of contact between agencies. We didn’t really see a need for direct communication from officer to officer unless it was task force operation or something similar.

"I think, to some extent, when you try to provide everyone immediate communication, it can lead to a slowdown in the communication process because so many people are trying to communicate. Unfortunately, that may have happened during the Boston bombing incident. Having immediate communication is a great thing until you overload the system or fail to have a designate point of contact," Rathburn surmised. "In my opinion it was not the fact the backpacks were allowed into the Marathon venue that caused the bombing. It was a failure to assess credible information that potential threats were imminent."

Despite all the planning and cooperative partnerships among agencies in the Boston area, even Michelman admitted the process could have been refined when it came to intelligence and communications in previous year. She said everyone learned a painful lesson.

"From the perspective of public-private partnerships and synergies, we in Boston have been in a very different place compared to other cities around the country. We have worked very hard in making relationships between public, private and government agencies — and the intelligence gathering process — better. We learned a lot from the Democratic National Convention several years ago, when we set up a Multi-Agency Command Center (the MAC) that had representatives from every public agency, and also from large private organizations like mine," said Michelman.

"There has been a lot of talk resulting from last year’s horrific event surrounding command and control and unity of command. There is no secret that law enforcement said there was no one person in charge. And maybe that’s okay in some events because there just couldn’t be, but that didn’t lessen the scrutiny around that issue. We have all worked diligently to rectify any shortcomings in that area," she concluded.

Secured Cities Note:

Both Chuck Brooks and Bonnie Michaelman will be featured speakers at the 2014 Secured Cities Conference in Baltimore, November 4-6. For more information on the program and how to register, please go to

Big Data Surveillance: Introduction

Andrejevic, Mark; Gates, Kelly
Surveillance & Society 12.2 (2014): 185-196

One of the most highly publicized avatars of high-tech surveillance in the networked era is the drone, with its ever-expanding range and field of vision (and sensing more generally), combined with its ominous military capabilities. One of the less publicized facts about the deployment of surveillance and military drones is that in addition to weapons, cameras, and other sensors, they are equipped with a device called an "Air Handler" that can capture all available wireless data traffic in the area. As one of the rare news accounts about this device put it, when a drone goes out on a mission, "the NSA [National Security Agency] has put a device on it that is not actually under the control of the CIA or the military; it is just sucking up data for the NSA" (Goodman 2014). The drone then comes to represent a double-image of surveillance: both the familiar "legacy" version of targeted, purposeful spying and the emerging model of ubiquitous, opportunistic data capture. As one of the reporters interviewed about his research on the "Air Handler" put it, "the NSA just wants all the data. They want to suck it up on an industrial scale. So they’re just piggybacking on these targeted operations in an effort to just suck up data throughout the world" (Goodman 2014). This description of the NSA’s approach to data collection parallels the widely publicized comments of the CIA’s Chief Technology Officer about contemporary strategies of surveillance: "The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time…Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever" (Sledge 2013). For drones, the signal-saturated sky is a sea of electromagnetically encoded data that can be captured, processed, refined, and perhaps put to use.

The collect-everything approach to monitoring and intelligence-embodied in the Air Handler, PRISM (the CIA’s secret mass electronic surveillance and data mining initiative), and a litany of other programs both public and private-is our starting point for exploring the connection between surveillance and so- called "big data." If conventional definitions of surveillance emphasize its systematic and targeted character (the notion that there is a specific "object" of surveillance), both aspects undergo some significant modifications when the goal is, generally speaking, to capture as much data as possible about everything, all the time, and hold on to it forever. Moreover, the ambitious scope of such surveillance raises a host of important issues associated with the infrastructure for collecting and storing huge amounts of data as well as the techniques and technologies for putting it to use. Even if the underlying goal of capturing information for the pursuit of some form of advantage, leverage, or control remains constant (see, for example, the contributions of both Reigeluth and van Otterlo to this issue), conventional understandings of the operation of surveillance and its social consequences are being reconfigured by the "big data" paradigm.

Some definitions will help specify the character of the changes associated with big data-driven forms of surveillance. For our purposes, the notion of "big data" refers to both the unprecedented size of contemporary databases and the emerging techniques for making sense of them. This understanding of big data will have consequences for our reconfigured definition of data-mining enhanced surveillance. What is significant about the big data moment is not simply that it has become possible to store quantities of data that are impossible for any individual to comprehend (The Library of Alexandria did that, as does the night sky, and the human brain), but the fact that this data can be put to use in novel ways-for assessing disease distributions, tracking business trends, mapping crime patterns, analysing web traffic, and predicting everything from the weather to the behavior of the financial markets, to name but a few examples. (For more on the logic of prediction and pre-emption, see Thomas’s contribution to this issue.) Humans are fated to live in environments that contain more information than they can ever fully register and comprehend. The advent of big data marks the moment when new forms of sense-making can be applied to the accumulated data troves (and, correspondingly, the moment when these troves can be amassed, stored, and shared in forms that are amenable to such techniques). So we take the term big data to refer to a combination of size, storage medium, and analytic capability. To refer to big data is not simply to claim that databases contain more information than ever before (although they do), but also to consider the new uses to which that data is put-the novel forms of "actionable intelligence" that emerge from the analysis of ever-expanding data sets. The Library of Congress, for example, has been around for a while, but as its contents are digitized, algorithms can search for patterns and correlations that have been hitherto impossible to detect. If, in the past, there were practical limitations on the ability to track the simultaneous movements of tens or hundreds of thousands of people through a major city, for example (it would be prohibitively expensive to hire enough people to tail everyone and take notes), today the ability to discern useful but non-obvious patterns from the data depends on complex technical systems. Humans simply cannot do that kind of data analysis unassisted.

The formation of big data systems, understood in these terms, has direct consequences for associated forms of surveillance, which avail themselves of both the burgeoning databases and the techniques for making sense of them. Perhaps the most obvious of these is that big data surveillance necessarily relies on automated data analytics. The emerging, massively data-intensive paradigm of knowledge production relies more than ever on highly complex automated systems that operate beyond the reach of human analytical capacities. The CIA can only aspire to "collect everything" if it has at least the hope of putting to use the world redoubled in digital form-something the agency could not hope to do with its small army of human spies alone, or even with the computing capacity it possessed merely a decade or so ago. The reliance on automated data analytics-or data mining-has its own consequences derived from the fact that the goal of such processes is to unearth indiscernible and un-anticipatable patterns from the data (see, for example, Chakrabarti 2009). That is, the data analytic process and its results are systemically, structurally opaque. The legal theorist Tal Zarsky (2013) describes the decisions based on such automated data-mining processes as "non-interpretable" (and thus non-transparent) because of their inherent complexity: "A non-interpretable process might follow from a data-mining analysis which is not explainable in human language. Here, the software makes its selection decisions based upon multiple variables (even thousands)" (2013: 1519). In this regard, the advent of big data surveillance augurs an era in which determinations of risk and suspicion result from complex data interactions that are both un- anticipatable and inexplicable. The database can generate patterns that have predictive power but not necessarily explanatory power. According to this logic, we need not and cannot know how the correlations were derived, or what causal explanations might explain them; we must simply accept that the data science knows best.

Relatively early examples of data mining retained some connection to intuition and explanation. In the 1970s, for example, political operatives discovered that people who drove Mercurys (a model of car) were more likely to vote Republican. There might not be a clear explanation for this, even if it is, perhaps, an intuitable finding, in the sense that the car in both appearance and reputation carried with it a certain set of associations. We might not be particularly surprised, for example, to learn that, more recently, the music streaming service Pandora discovered that Bob Marley fans are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican (Dwoskin 2014). However, the real prize, from a data-mining perspective, is the generation of completely un-intuitable correlations that nonetheless have predictive (or sorting) power. Let’s imagine, for example, that data analysis indicated viewers of a certain age who bike to work and wear glasses are more likely to respond to a toothpaste ad that emphasizes the product’s cavity-fighting power than its brightness-inducing qualities. The lure here would be the attempt to find some kind of underlying connection between the stated attributes and the prediction. However, the real goal of data mining is to move beyond this lure in order to arrive at correlations generated by thousands of variables over domains of millions of data points in ways that are untranslatable into any intuitively available pattern.

Zizek, following Lacan, describes this kind of functional non-knowledge as the domain of the symbolic Real: "There is a symbolic Real, which is simply meaningless scientific formulae…you cannot understand quantum physics [for example], you cannot translate it into our horizon of meaning; it consists of formulae that simply function" (Zizek and Daly 2004: 97). We might say something similar of algorithmic correlations and predictions: they do not provide us with underlying, common sense explanations, but offer findings based on a level of complexity that makes them, in some cases, utterly inexplicable. The algorithms do not integrate the findings into our "horizon of meaning" (we may never really understand why a particular set of variables is more or less likely to yield a desired outcome); they simply function.

The very opacity of the data-mining process suggests that the potential uses of any data set cannot be defined in advance: it may become useful in conjunction with yet-to-be collected data, and it may illuminate activities or outcomes to which it seems entirely unrelated. That is, the specific justification for collecting the data may come only after the fact, thus demanding that all data be collected and stored for its future use-value-its correlational and predictive potential-even if there are no envisioned uses for it at present. Big data surveillance, in this regard, is structurally speculative: data that is seemingly entirely unrelated to a particular strategic objective may well yield the most useful unforeseen correlations.

There is a second sense in which data collection in the context of big data surveillance is speculative: that of attempting to amass an archive that can be searched and sorted retrospectively. The goal is to collect data about everyone, because one never knows who might end up doing something that needs to be excavated and reconstructed (for example, breaking a law). If the archive is complete, according to this logic, then no matter who the suspect is, a relevant data trail can be reconstructed. The data load generated by mobile phones is a case in point. Police have already used mobile phone data to catch thieves by placing them at the scene of the crime and then confirming that their movements coincided with a subsequent car chase (Perez and Gorman 2013). One of the fantasies related to the post-911 goal of "total information awareness" involves the generation of a complete archive that would supplement (or displace) the vagaries of reported actions and memories by externalizing them in the form of machine-readable databases. Hence the recent spate of proposed and actual data retention laws in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere: typically these laws require that telephony and internet providers store data for a minimum period of time (from six months to a year or more) so that they can be accessed by authorities if necessary. Such laws rely on the oligopolistic or monopolistic character of service provision, offloading the surveillance responsibility onto large private sector operators.

Data retention initiatives are often criticized for treating everyone as a potential suspect, but this is not quite right: the assumption is that the vast majority of those tracked will not be considered suspects, and even further (as we are likely to be reminded) that data retention can help exonerate the innocent. Thus, the corollary to the repeated (and questionable) refrain that we need not worry about new forms of data collection as long as we are not doing anything wrong is that the database can come to serve as our alibi. If we are falsely accused or merely the target of suspicion, we have recourse to the monitoring archive that holds records of our whereabouts, our activities, our interactions, and our communications. Alternatively, for those who run afoul of the law, the archive can be used to link them to the scene of a crime, to reconstruct their movements, to identify and eventually capture them, as was ostensibly demonstrated by the pursuit of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, originally identified by searching through the archive of security camera video of the event.

However, the Boston Marathon bombing case in fact underscores some holes in the logics of big data that introduce important complications in how this conjuncture of technologies and practices is conceptualized and studied as a problem in Surveillance Studies. There is a case to be made that identifying and capturing the bombing suspects had more to do with human grunt work than automated, high-tech forms of surveillance, big-data or otherwise (see, for example, Sheth and Prasch 2013). Ultimately, the correct suspects were identified by a team of human investigators manually combing through surveillance video gathered on the ground from local businesses. The young men were then apprehended after they shot a campus police officer at MIT, carjacked someone who managed to escape, and then had a shootout with the police. (The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured when a Boston resident went outside to smoke a cigarette and saw blood on the side of his boat.) More to the point, if predictive analytics were indeed so sophisticated, why was the Tsarnaev brothers’ plot not detected in advance? Given what we now know about the NSA’s massive data-gathering machine, how did these two prolific users of email, web browsers, cell phones and social media slip under the predictive radar?

The failure of predictive surveillance in Boston Marathon bombing case has been used (predictably) to provide justification for the need to gather more data and develop greater predictive-analytic capacities. But we might also detect here a sense in which the promises of big data and predictive analytics carry with them what William Bogard calls "the imaginary of surveillant control," with the emphasis on imaginary- "a fantastic dream of seeing everything capable of being seen, recording every fact capable of being recorded, and accomplishing these things whenever and wherever possible, prior to the event itself" (1996: 4-5). The fact that this visionary prophetic omniscience remains a "fantastic dream" does not mean that we should be unconcerned about the implications of the new totalizing practices of data collection and mining. Instead it means that we should be careful not to inadvertently allow our thinking to reinforce the flip side of the determinist logic that underpins big data boosterism.

Another important implication of big data-driven surveillance, as we are conceptualizing it here, concerns the importance of attending to the physical and logistical infrastructure that enables it. If the advent of big data is inseparable from the ability to assemble, store, and mine tremendous amounts of data, and if the processing of these data troves is necessarily automated, then infrastructure remains central to emerging forms of surveillance. In fact, the size of the infrastructural capacity is central to understanding what distinguishes something called "big data" from earlier forms of data collection, data-mining and database management. As engineers are keenly aware, increasing the scale of technical systems does not involve simply making them bigger in any straightforward sense; instead it often requires their complete reinvention. A similar implication follows for the effects of scaled-up systems: they do not simply affect more people or reach more territory, but instead can lead to radical social and material transformations. The mass production of standardized shipping containers, for example, required a massive build-out of infrastructure that in turn radically transformed the terms of global trade and the political-economic geography of the planet (Levinson 2008).

Infrastructures are challenging to describe and virtually impossible to study in their entirety, as Lisa Parks (2012) has noted. There is, on the one hand, a political economy of big data surveillance that explores the implications of ownership and control over the surveillant resources, including the platforms and the networks, the server farms, the algorithms and the cultivation and allocation of data-mining expertise. Such an approach also necessarily considers the relationship between political control and economic resources-the data processing capacity of multinational internet corporations like Google and Facebook, for example, or the ability of the state to access data troves accumulated by these commercial entities.

These companies already have the data collection infrastructure in place to transform communication systems into high-resolution surveillance systems on a global scale. If at one time the accumulation of the world’s stored data was the province of the academic sectors and the state (and their various libraries and databases), the accelerated monetization of information has contributed to a dramatically expanding role for the private sector. One recent roundup of the world’s largest databases includes three commercial companies in the top five (Anonyzious 2012).

There are also epistemological dimensions to the central role of infrastructure in big data surveillance. Access to the big data resources housed by large corporate entities structures both access to useful "knowledge" and the character of this knowledge itself: not necessarily comprehended content, but excavated patterns. As Google likes to put it: no human reads your email-rather, machines turn it into metadata so as to correlate patterns of communication with patterns of advertising exposure and subsequent purchasing behavior. As Jeremy Packer (2013) argues, the form of knowledge on offer is tied to the infrastructure that generates it. The excavation of purely correlational findings that nonetheless have pragmatic value relies on access to databases and sense-making infrastructures. Packer uses the example of Google (as does the CIA’s Gus Hunt, in describing the inspiration of his agency’s data-mining practices), whose "computations are not content-oriented in the manner that advertising agencies or critical scholars are. Rather, the effect is the content. The only thing that matters are effects: did someone initiate financial data flows, spend time, consume, click, or conform? Further, the only measurable quantity is digital data" (2013: 297). For Packer, a critique of this shift to effect-as-content relies upon an engagement at the level of infrastructure: "Understanding media not merely as transmitters-the old ‘mass media’ function-but rather as data collectors, storage houses, and processing centers, reorients critical attention toward the epistemological power of media" (2013: 296).

The shift from content to metadata has implications for the convergent character of data mining: even though marketing and national security have received the lion’s share of media attention, data analytics play an increasingly important role in a growing number of spheres of social practice, from policing to financial speculation, transport and logistics, health care, employment, consumption, political participation, and education. Data collected by a particular application can often be repurposed for a variety of uses. The music streaming service Pandora, for example, gathers data about user preferences in order to provide customized listening recommendations, but also correlates listening habits with geography, and geography with voting patterns, in order to infer information about listeners’ political leanings. Another example is an application developed by Microsoft Research that apparently is able to predict users’ moods based on their patterns of smart phone use.

The point is that so-called "function creep" is not ancillary to the data collection process, it is built into it-the function is the creep. Continuous repurposing of information initially gathered for other purposes is greatly facilitated by digitization, which makes storage, sharing, and processing easier. But function creep is also made enabled by the new "save everything" logic of automated data analysis (Morozov 2013), where the relevance of any piece of data to future correlations and predictions can never be ruled out in advance.

All of these characteristics of the deployment of big data and associated forms of data mining have implications for how we think about the changing character of surveillance in data-driven contexts. (Klauser and Albrechtslund’s contribution to this special issue proposes a framework for exploring these changes.) To approach the developing character of big data surveillance, we might start by considering some recent influential definitions of surveillance. In their report on "The Surveillance Society" for the UK information commissioner, David Murakami Wood and colleagues define surveillance as, "purposeful, routine, systematic and focused attention paid to personal details, for the sake of control, entitlement, management, influence, or protection" (Murakami Wood et al. 2006: 4). They further emphasize that, "surveillance is also systematic; it is planned and carried out according to a schedule that is rational, not merely random" (Murakami Wood et al. 2006: 4). Similarly, in his influential formulation of "dataveillance" in the digital era, Roger Clarke refers to "the systematic monitoring of people or groups, by means of personal data systems, in order to regulate or govern their behaviour" (Clarke 1987). He subsequently distinguishes between targeted personal dataveillance and "mass dataveillance, which involves monitoring large groups of people" (Clarke 2003). A third example is Haggerty and Ericson’s (2000) concept of the "surveillant assemblage," often cited in recent work to theorize the shape and character of distributed, networked data monitoring on a mass scale (Cohen 2013; Klauser 2013; Murakami Wood 2013; Vukov and Sheller 2013; Salter 2013; etc.). The surveillant assemblage, to remind readers, "operates by abstracting human bodies from their territorial settings and separating them into a series of discrete flows. These flows are then reassembled into distinct ‘data doubles’ which can be scrutinized and targeted for intervention" (Haggerty and Ericson 2000: 606).

Such definitions remain productive for analysing many forms of contemporary surveillance, but they require some qualification in the context of big data. In particular, the speculative and totalizing aspects of big data collection transform the systematic and targeted character of surveillance practices. The notion that surveillance is systematic and targeted takes on a somewhat different dimension when the goal is to capture any and all available data. Drone data collection via the "Air Handler," for example, is more opportunistic than systematic (as was the capture of information from local WiFi networks by Google’s Street View cars). By the same token, the uses for such data are often more speculative than defined.

The very notion of a surveillance target takes on a somewhat different meaning when surveillance relies upon mining large-scale databases: the target becomes the hidden patterns in the data, rather than particular individuals or events. Data about the latter are the pieces of the puzzle that need to be collected and assembled in order for the pattern to emerge. In this regard, the target for data collection becomes the entire population and its environment: "all of reality" is, as Packer puts it, "now translatable. The world is being turned into digital data and thus transformable via digital manipulation" (2013: 298). This, of course, is the wager of big data surveillance: that those with access to the data have gained some power over the informated world, and that the patterns which emerge will give those with access to them an advantage of some kind. Big data surveillance, then, relies upon control over collection, storage, and processing infrastructures in order to accumulate and mine spectacularly large amounts of data for useful patterns. Big data surveillance is not about understanding the data, nor is it typically about explaining or understanding the world captured by that data-it is about intervening in that world based on patterns available only to those with access to the data and the processing power. Big data surveillance is not selective: it relies on scooping up as much information as possible and sorting out its usefulness later. In the big data world there is no functional distinction between targets and non-targets (suspects and non- suspects) when it comes to data collection: information about both groups is needed in order to excavate the salient differences between them.

Big data surveillance looks much less parsimonious than the panoptic model that has played such an important role in conceptualizing and critiquing the relationship between surveillance and power. Bentham’s model was meant to leverage uncertainty in the name of efficiency-the properly functioning panopticon allowed just one supervisor to impose discipline upon the entire prison population. Bentham speculated that once the system had been implemented it might continue to function even in the absence of a supervisor-with just an empty, opaque tower looming nearby to warn inmates that they might be monitored at any time. This is the logic of "dummy" speed cameras or surveillance cameras: that the spectacle of surveillance carries with it its own power. Compared to this alleged model of efficiency, the big data model looks somewhat extravagant: rather than mobilizing uncertainty (as to whether one is being watched or not), it mobilizes the promise of data surfeit: that the technology is emerging to track everything about everyone at all times-and to store this data in machine-readable form. Of course, the danger of such a model is that it must necessarily fall short of its goal; the only way to ensure that nothing is overlooked is to reproduce the world in its entirety in data-recorded form, and therefore to record data about the recording process itself, and so on, indefinitely. The result is that one of the hallmarks of big data surveillance is its structural incompleteness.

This incompleteness has its own consequences, given that the big data model attempts to move beyond the sampling procedures of other forms of partial data collection to encompass the entire population. Put somewhat differently, there is no guarantee that the data collected is either comprehensive or representative. The sheer size of the database is meant to compensate for these lacks, but does not prevent systematic forms of bias from working their way into the data trove (or the algorithms that sort it). Shoshana Magnet (2011) and Kelly Gates (2011), for example, have each demonstrated the ways in which debunked conceptions of racial identity work their way into biometric identification technologies. The database carries with it associations of objectivity that can "launder" the forms of bias that are baked into the data collection and sorting processes. Thus, a closer look at the labor that goes into shaping these processes is a crucial component of critical approaches to big data surveillance (see French’s contribution to this issue).

One rejoinder to such critiques, however, is that they rely upon an outmoded approach to the data: an over-emphasis on its content rather than its functional efficacy. This is Packer’s Kittler-inspired point: when the effect is the content, all other questions of referentiality (is the data representative, complete, etc.?) fall by the wayside. Presumably if there is a problem somewhere along the line, then the ability to attain the desired effect is impaired, but relative to what? There is no standard of truth, or even correctness in such a model (as is implied, for example, by the standard of "the population" in probability sampling). There is merely the bar set by existing forms of practice. If a particular recommendation algorithm achieves a higher rate of success in getting people to watch movies, purchase books, or click on links, then it has succeeded. Questions about the representativeness of the data or biases in the algorithm are subordinated to this measure of success. In this regard, it would be somewhat misleading to say that the top priority of big data surveillance is to obtain as accurate and complete a view of the world as possible. Rather its goal is to intervene in the world as effectively as possible, which may well entail lower standards of comprehensiveness and accuracy.

The complications that totalizing forms of data capture and analysis introduce for established ways of defining surveillance also suggest the need to re-examine existing legal frameworks. The idea that the institutions engaged in totalizing data capture are focused on distributions and patterns emerging in populations, and presumably uninterested in targeting particular individuals, allows them to circumvent established rights-based principles. In the United States, for example, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits search and seizure of "persons, houses, papers, and effects" without a legally issued warrant that "particularly describ[es] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." This legal right is systematically subverted, not only by big data’s "no content, just metadata" assertion, as José van Dijck refers to it in this issue, but also by a whole parallel extra-legal domain of industry "self- regulation." The self-regulatory approach to privacy protection relies on so-called voluntary disclosure of personal data, written into the incomprehensible, small-type "privacy policies" that people agree to daily as a condition of participation in the online economy (Turow 2006). Such policies rely upon "an intrinsically asymmetrical relationship," as Sara Degli Esposti notes in her contribution to this issue. The point here is that the big data paradigm, in its applications that rely on data about human beings, is built on the foundation of what is, in reality, a regime of compulsory self-disclosure. And this regime is supported by and commensurate with a normalized and permanent "state of exception," in which individual legal rights are always suspended in any case, for all who might choose to opt out (because after all, opting out itself looks suspicious).

In short, if the totalizing and massively scaled-up data paradigm requires new ways of conceptualizing surveillance, it also requires renewed efforts at rescuing and reinventing the legal arguments and interventions that can be used to address and curb these practices. Legal scholar Julie Cohen (2013) offers one such effort at rethinking privacy in light of big data in her recent Harvard Law Review piece, "What privacy is for"; among her recommendations is a reemphasis on the legal and moral necessity of due process. From another angle, Jay Stanley (2013) of the ACLU offers a short but persuasive argument against the effectiveness of applying big data to predict terrorist attacks, using an analogy from physics called Brownian motion: a water molecule’s path through water is easy to understand in retrospect but impossible to predict in advance. If strategies for fighting terrorism continue to take the approach of amassing greater and greater quantities of data about everybody, Stanley explains, the outcome is indeed predictable: "many more incredulous senators, amazed that our security agencies failed to thwart attacks when all the signs seemed so ‘clear’ in advance." Of course, the challenge of reframing the policy debate returns anew with each terrible tragedy of this kind; terrorist attacks in particular seem uniquely suited to technological-solutionist responses.

Certainly another way of challenging the ethical and legal underpinnings of big-data surveillance is by pointing to the glaring contradiction in the demand on the part of state and corporate actors that their operations remain strictly confidential, even as those same operations require individuals to relinquish all rights to privacy and lay their lives bare. Among the many deafening warning alarms raised by Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations is the need to hold the state accountable to the same if not greater scrutiny than what it is now demanding of citizens en masse, starting with all claims that state agencies make to so- called state-secrets privileges. And an equal measure of scrutiny should be levelled at the trade-secrets claims of all non-state institutions with big-data capabilities.

Obviously, more systematic and targeted forms of surveillance have not dropped by the wayside, and definitions of surveillance that account for such practices remain relevant. We are not arguing that the character of surveillance has changed in all contexts. Rather we seek to identify salient aspects of emerging forms of data-driven surveillance and thereby to gesture toward their societal consequences. The shift toward totalizing data capture was more or less apparent well before The Guardian published its first NSA spying revelation in June 2013. But the steady stream of revelations trickling out from Snowden’s files gives us cause to consider how well our established theoretical and political approaches to surveillance measure up to the challenges of big data, real or imagined. Given its heavy reliance on infrastructure, big data surveillance is available only to those with access to the databases and the processing power: it is structurally asymmetrical. Likewise, the forms of knowledge it generates are necessarily opaque; they are not shareable understandings of the world, but actionable intelligence crafted to serve the imperatives and answer the questions of those who control the databases. These forms of knowledge push against any attempt to delimit either the collection of data or the purposes to which that data are turned.

Contributions to this issue

While the range of topics and issues addressed here is by no means exhaustive, the contributors to this special issue cover considerable ground in their analyses of big data and predictive analytics as issues of concern to Surveillance Studies. Some of the contributors offer speculative theoretical reflections, while others offer empirical case studies grounded in specific domains. They address a selection of key areas: pandemics and disease surveillance systems, public health surveillance, self-tracking and the "Quantitative Self" movement, urban digital infrastructures, the big business of big data, crime prediction programs, and more. The authors also elaborate on a number of critical concepts, some borrowed from other sources, that should prove analytically productive for further research: datafication, dataism, dataveillance, analytical competitors, algorithmic governmentality, and others. There are many other areas and topics that might have fit within the scope of this issue. Promising areas for further research include the role of big data surveillance in the finance industry and the analysis of the financial markets; the accelerated monetization of data at the heart of big data as a business model; the impact and role of big data in political polling and public opinion analysis; market research and sentiment analysis; policing, crime mapping and crime prediction; military applications of big data; and many more. It also is important to note that authors originally submitted work for consideration in this theme issue before the first Snowden NSA story broke in June 2013, with the reviewing and revising process extending through the initial revelation and the steady stream of exposures that followed over the latter half of 2013. Thus, while some of the authors incorporated the newly visible NSA activities into their articles during the revision process, none of the pieces published here are principally focused on PRISM or other NSA programs revealed by Edward Snowden’s files.

In her contribution, José van Dijck examines the logic of "datafication" that underpins the big data paradigm-a belief in the value- and truth-producing potential inherent in the mass collection and analysis of data and metadata (Mayer-Schoenberger and Cukier 2013). Among the problems van Dijck identifies with the datafication view is the assumption of a direct and self-evident relationship between data and people, as if the digital traces users leave behind online reveal their essential traits and tendencies, from their spiritual beliefs and intelligence levels to their earning potential and predisposition to diseases. van Dijck sees an ideology of dataism in the celebratory view of datafication espoused by big data proponents-the resurgence of a flawed faith in the objectivity of quantification, and a misguided view of metadata as the "raw material" of social life. The opacity of data science supports the ideology of dataism, obscuring the priorities that shape both the range of data collected and the ways that data gets analysed. van Dijck also explores the problem of trust at the heart of dataism, insisting that what is at stake is not just our trust in specific government agencies or corporations, but in the integrity of the entire networked ecosystem.

In her essay, "When Big Data Meets Dataveillance," Sara Degli Esposti draws substantially on business literature to identify some of the specific ways that business priorities shape the practices of big data analytics, as well as the kinds of answers that are generated. Information technology companies, she explains, are now differentiated based on their capacity for analyzing big data-"analytical competitors" are so named for their ability to outperform their peers in terms of their ability to apply analytics to their own data, drawing on internal expertise (Davenport and Harris 2007). Of course, not all companies have such high-skilled in-house labor, creating a market for "analytical deputies," or companies building their business models on conducting large-scale analyses of data for less data-savvy corporate customers. Degli Esposti employs Roger Clarke’s concept of dataveillance to parse out the surveillant aspects of big-data business practices along four dimensions: recorded observation, identification and tracking, analytical intervention, and behavioral manipulation. While these dimensions of dataveillance operate in a feedback loop, it is forms of analytical intervention in particular that enable businesses operating in different sectors to achieve key objectives, "from customer acquisition and retention to supply chain optimization; from scheduling or routing optimization to financial risk management; from product innovation to workforce recruitment and retention." Analytical intervention also allows companies to engage more effectively in profit-maximizing price discrimination strategies. Moreover, while businesses depend increasingly on data-mining agents-computer programs designed to automatically identify patterns in data-what is clear from Degli Esposti’s discussion is that human expertise remains central to the knowledge- and profit- producing potential of big data. Big data companies employ "tech savvy CEOs" as well as highly trained data scientists with the sophisticated statistical and mathematical skills necessary to create advanced analytical applications. Big data surveillance is a high-tech, high-skill operation.

Martin French’s contribution also zeroes in on the production processes that constitute big data systems, focusing on the activities of Canadian health care professionals. Specifically, he presents a case study that examines the process challenges associated with the implementation of a large-scale, regionally interconnected public health information system in Ontario, Canada. Countering the "informatic ethos" that conceals the labor that makes IT systems work, French focuses on what he calls "informatics practice," or the combined human and non-human labor activity that materializes information, the practical activities that contribute to "making information a material reality in quotidian life." Viewed from this on-the-ground perspective, the foundations of new forms of data-driven monitoring appear more subject to the vicissitudes of individual practices, convenience, and happenstance than suggested by monolithic portrayals of big data as a black-box category. The work of public health professionals is often at odds with IT system operations, for example, and such professionals are often very much concerned with patient privacy. In French’s case study, "the everyday operation of health IT not only complicated the work of public health, but also blurred public health’s surveillant gaze." French’s article shifts the lens from the impact of surveillance on those subjected to it, to its impact on the work practices of those tasked with operating and otherwise making the monitoring systems function.

In his contribution, Tyler Reigeluth conceptualizes big data practices as forms of "algorithmic governmentality," (Berns and Rouvroy, in Reigeluth, this issue), considering how these practices take shape as forms of subjectivation in the Foucauldian sense-interventions that bring human subjectivities into being. He expands on the notion of "digital traces," variously understood as the marks, prints, infinitesimal pieces and intersection points that are gathered together and analysed to make sense of individuals and collectives. Even in academic thought, Reigeluth notes, there seems to be some agreement that identities are "the collection or the sum of digital traces." Similar to van Dijck, he asks what is at stake in understanding digital traces as the raw material of human identities, and the basis for discovering fundamental truths about them. Rather than seeing big data analytics as a radical departure from existing forms of subjectivation, Reigeluth suggests that the concept of digital trace can shed light on the ways digital technology is continuous with long-standing institutional and technological arrangements for shaping human subjectivities by structuring the environments they inhabit. Doing so requires opening up the black box of data capture and analysis, following the traces as they enter into and exit algorithmic systems and their physical infrastructures. Focusing on two manifestations of the big data paradigm-a crime prevention program called PredPol (short for "Predictive Policing") and the Quantified Self movement-Reigeluth considers the ironies of algorithmic rationality. "If the ideal individual is perfectly correlated and immanent to his environment," he asks, and "if her singularity can be reduced to the degree to which she fulfills these correlations," then is it actually possible for an ethical and political subject to exist as such?

Martijn van Otterlo explores the ways in which the flexibility of digital environments can double as laboratory and virtual Skinner box, enabling an ongoing process of experimentation in social control. He explores the ways in which digital environments are constantly modulated for the purposes of determining how best to influence the behavior of those whose actions can be captured by interactive forms of data collection. If, as Otterlo suggests, paranoia is a "step in the right direction" to the transformation of cyberspace into myriad cybernetic laboratories, this is a consequence of the capitalist imaginary at play in the fields of big data. He cites the example of a Microsoft patent for an automated system that monitors and analyses employee behavior in order to ensure "that desired behaviors are encouraged and undesired behaviors are discouraged." It turns out that, from the perspective of managers, marketers, and other associated authorities, futuristic digital dreams recapitulate familiar fantasies of control and manipulation with deep roots in the history of media technologies. Otterlo’s contribution helpfully opens up a range of social spheres to a consideration of the relationship between big data mining and experimentation beyond the familiar one of advertising. By drawing on examples from a range of recent appropriations of data- mining technology, he argues that we need to consider the implications of big data-driven forms of monitoring and surveillance in the realms of politics, education, policing, and the workforce, among others.

One of the attributes of "big data" that emerge from the contributions to this issue is the increasing reach of data mining, and the unfolding of new registers of monitoring and surveillance. Francisco Klauser and Anders Albrechtslund’s article proposes a framework for research on big data based on the four axes of "agency, temporality, spatiality and normativity." The virtue of such an approach is that it draws upon the wide-ranging uses of data-driven monitoring to broaden the reach of the study of surveillance. The article invokes the seemingly disparate practices of self-monitoring on the one hand, and urban surveillance associated with "smart cities" on the other, to trace commonalities in data-mining techniques and their relation to forms of social control. The authors argue for approaches to data-driven forms of monitoring that supplement critiques of discipline at the individual level with those of regulation at the population level. In other words, when decisions are made at the aggregate level, drawing on probability levels generated by data mining, the focus is not on particular individuals but on aggregate outcomes. The authors also argue for expanding the reach of Surveillance Studies beyond the monitoring of humans to consider the wide array of objects and contexts about which information is collected. The fantasy of "big data" is that it might become powerful enough to create a comprehensive data double of both the social world and the object world (and their interactions).

Lindsay Thomas’s exploration of the logic of disease monitoring systems designed to track and anticipate the spread of contagious illnesses doubles as a meditation on the temporality of pre-emption more generally. Disease monitoring partakes of the logic of predictive analytics: the mobilization of data collected in the past to model possible futures in the present. As she puts it, "The future is anticipated and surveilled using past data," a formulation that could apply equally to financial modeling, crime prediction, climate modeling, and much more. The paradox of such forms of modeling, she notes, is not simply that, when it comes to catastrophes like pandemics, they attempt to forestall future events by interjecting them into the present, but that the very attempt to collapse temporality pushes in the direction of a catastrophic stasis: "their continual construction of soon-to-arrive pandemics normalizes catastrophe. They build ‘future’ catastrophes all around us, teaching us to accept them, and, by extension, the measures we all must take to prepare for them, as given."

Taken together, the contributions to the issue develop some of the emerging themes in explorations of big data. One is the tension between the promise of predictive control embodied in the big data paradigm, and the realities of biased, incomplete data. Closely related to this tension is the promotional hype associated with new forms of data collection and mining, the misplaced faith in big data that Morozov (2013) aptly refers to as "the folly of technological solutionism." The contributors also explore the epistemological claims associated with the forms of "knowledge" that can be extracted from sorting and analyzing increasingly enormous, merged datasets. Perhaps most importantly, they provide a starting point for studying the social, political, and cultural consequences of a burgeoning domain of automated surveillance. In this regard, big data is not simply a matter of the size of the database, but of the claims made on its behalf, and on its application to an ever-expanding range of social practices.


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Author Affiliation

Mark Andrejevic
University of Queensland, Australia.


Kelly Gates
University of California, San Diego, US

Jury Convicts Man of Impeding Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation

Department of Justice (DOJ) | Jul 21, 2014

Justice Department Press Releases

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jury Convicts Man of Impeding Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation

A federal jury in Boston has convicted a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for impeding the bombing investigation.

Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts and Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi of the FBI’s Boston Field Division, made the announcement today.

The jury found Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for October 16, 2014.

In August 2013, Tazhayakov was indicted for obstructing a terrorism investigation. Tazhayakov is a national of Kazakhstan who was temporarily living in the United States on a student visa while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, but at the time of his arrest his visa had been revoked.

The evidence at trial proved that on April 18, 2013, after the release of photographs of the two men suspected of carrying out the Marathon bombings (who were later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), Tazhayakov and others went to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and found items that linked Tsarnaev to the bombing, including fireworks from which "gunpowder" appeared to have been removed and a jar of Vaseline that they believed could be used to make bombs. A forensic examiner testified that Vaseline can be used to make improvised explosive devices. A month before the bombing, Tsarnaev had told Tazhayakov that it would be good to die as shaheed (martyr) and that he knew how to build a bomb. Tsarnaev also identified specific ingredients one could use to make a bomb, including "gunpowder."

After searching Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013, Tazhayakov helped remove Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive. Later that night while Tazhayakov was monitoring the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, he discussed getting rid of the backpack containing the fireworks and agreed to get rid of it. The backpack was then placed in a garbage bag and then thrown into a dumpster outside Tazhayakov’s New Bedford apartment. The FBI recovered this backpack a week later, after 25 agents spent two days searching a landfill in New Bedford.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and five years on the conspiracy count, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each charge. Tazhayakov will also be deported at the conclusion of this prosecution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Division and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Massachusetts State Police, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety, New Bedford Police Department, Dartmouth Police Department, U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, provided assistance to this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and John A. Capin of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

# # #


National Security Division



Boston Bombing Suspect’s Friend Is Convicted On Obstruction Charges
All Things Considered
National Public Radio | Jul 21, 2014

ROBERT SIEGEL: In Boston today, a friend of the Marathon Bombing suspect was found guilty. He was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The man is 20 years-old, a college friend of Jahar Tsarnaev. The friend was accused of helping to remove incriminating evidence from his dorm room following the bombings. And Pete Tovia Smith has our story.

TOVIA SMITH: Prosecutors say Azamat Tazhayakov went with two friends to Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removed his laptop and his backpack containing fireworks emptied of their gunpowder and agreed with the plan to dispose of the backpack. They say Tazhayakov recognized the suspects as soon as authorities published their pictures, but didn’t say anything until he was picked up and interrogated. Prosecutors also say it took a while to get Tazhayakov to share everything he knew. Prosecutors today expressed relief that the jury saw it their way. Defense attorneys expressed shock.

MATTHEW MYERS: It’s a brutal day for all of us – difficult to try a case in this culture.

SMITH: Defense attorney Matthew Myers says he’s already planning an appeal.

MYERS: It’s very difficult to get a juror who is objective. We understand what this town has been through, it’s just hard to put those things aside – the jurors under a certain pressure by the community to possibly render a certain verdict.

SMITH: Tazhayakov insisted that he had nothing to do with dumping the bag and didn’t even know it was thrown out until after the fact, his attorneys casted him as a scared teenager who never intended to cover up any crime. But as Northeastern University law professor Daniel Medwed notes, the defense couldn’t overcome the facts.

DANIEL MEDWED: There’s very few innocent explanations for getting rid of the backpack. What was the reason for doing that besides protecting your friend from potential criminal consequences?

SMITH: Tazhayakov bowed his head in court as his mother wept loudly while jurors read their verdict – guilty of taking the backpack, though not guilty of taking the laptop. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, sentencing is set for October. Soon after, two other Tsarnaev friends are due to stand trial for allegedly being a part of the obstruction. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan says today’s guilty verdict may impact those cases.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: It could be the defendant feeling more anxious to consider some type of plea deal. At the same token, the government could say that they feel very confident and feel that it’s not necessary to cut a deal.

SMITH: Tsarnaev himself is set to go to trial in November. Today’s verdict may bolster efforts by Tsarnaev’s defense team to get the case moved out of Boston. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.



Guilty Verdict in Marathon-Bomb Obstruction Case
Kamp, Jon
Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition | 22 July 2014

BOSTON — A former college student was found guilty Monday of trying to thwart the investigation into the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing by helping remove a backpack from the accused bomber’s dorm room three days after the deadly attack.

Azamat Tazhayakov, a 20-year-old from Kazakhstan, faces up to 20 years in prison for impeding the investigation and up to five years for planning to take evidence with another friend, whose trial is pending. Mr. Tazhayakov’s sentencing is set for Oct. 16.

The verdict marks a win for the local U.S. attorney’s office as prosecutors begin trying five separate cases linked to the marathon bombing and its aftermath.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with plotting and carrying out the deadly attack. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in November. Four others have been charged in connection with alleged efforts to assist him or hide connections to him after the fact.

Mr. Tazhayakov’s trial began July 7. Prosecutors charged him with intentionally helping another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, take items from Mr. Tsarnaev’s room, including a backpack with emptied fireworks inside. Prosecutors alleged the men went to the room days after the bombing when they recognized Mr. Tsarnaev through pictures in the news, even though he hadn’t yet been named.

"Before the FBI showed up, the defendant had already agreed to toss this in the dumpster," prosecutor John Capin said, holding up the backpack while making the government’s final argument against Mr. Tazhayakov last week.

The jury convicted him over the backpack, but found him not guilty regarding a laptop that was also taken from Mr. Tsarnaev’s room. Mr. Tazhayakov’s attorneys said they would appeal — arguing the form the jury signed for the verdict was confusing — while also pushing for the most lenient sentence possible.

Mr. Kadyrbayev, also a 20-year-old from Kazakhstan, faces the same charges and is scheduled for trial in September. He has pleaded not guilty.



US Fed News Service | 23 July 2014

BOSTON, July 21 — The US Department of Justice’s US Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts issued the following press release:

A federal jury in Boston has convicted a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for impeding the bombing investigation.

The jury found Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. U. S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for October 16, 2014.

In August 2013, Tazhayakov was indicted for obstructing a terrorism investigation. Tazhayakov is a national of Kazakhstan who was temporarily living in the United States on a student visa while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, but at the time of his arrest his visa had been revoked.

The evidence at trial proved that on April 18, 2013, after the release of photographs of the two men suspected of carrying out the Marathon bombings (who were later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), Tazhayakov and others went to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and found items that linked Tsarnaev to the bombing, including fireworks from which "gunpowder" appeared to have been removed and a jar of Vaseline that they believed could be used to make bombs. A forensic examiner testified that Vaseline can be used to make improvised explosive devices. A month before the bombing, Tsarnaev had told Tazhayakov that it would be good to die as shaheed (martyr) and that he knew how to build a bomb. Tsarnaev also identified specific ingredients one could use to make a bomb, including "gunpowder."

After searching Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013, Tazhayakov helped remove Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive. Later that night while Tazhayakov was monitoring the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, he discussed getting rid of the backpack containing the fireworks and agreed to get rid of it. The backpack was then placed in a garbage bag and then thrown into a dumpster outside Tazhayakov’s New Bedford apartment. The FBI recovered this backpack a week later, after 25 agents spent two days searching a landfill in New Bedford.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and five years on the conspiracy count, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each charge. Tazhayakov will also be deported at the conclusion of this prosecution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U. S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Division and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies. U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Massachusetts State Police, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety, New Bedford Police Department, Dartmouth Police Department, U. S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, U. S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, provided assistance to this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and John A. Capin of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Conspiracy in Boston

Michael, George
Skeptic 19.2 (2014): 16-27,64

Disentangling Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracy Theories

At 2:49 P.M. on April 15, 2013, two bombs fabricated from pressure cookers exploded within an interval of a few seconds near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The attack, which killed three persons including an eight-year-old boy and wounded up to 264 others, raised the specter of renewed jihadist terrorism. After many failed plots in the years after 9/11, Islamist radicals demonstrated that they could still strike America. Just three days after the incident, the FBI identified two brothers-Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev-as the primary suspects. After photos of their faces were displayed in the media, the two brothers hastily prepared to launch another attack in Times Square in New York City, but by that time, a huge manhunt was in full swing to capture them. In a desperate crime spree, the two brothers ambushed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer, Sean Collier, leaving the young man dead, after which they carjacked a Mercedes SUV.1 But before they could carry out their next attack, the two brothers were involved in a spectacular late-night shootout with local police in Watertown, a small city near Boston. The confrontation left Tamerlan dead after his brother inadvertently ran over him while escaping in the stolen vehicle. A few hours later, Dzhokhar was finally apprehended as he lay underneath a tarpaulin covering a boat parked in a Watertown resident’s backyard.2 The young man sustained numerous injuries including gunshot wounds to the neck, legs, and hand.3 On April 22, he was charged with, among other things, using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, for which he could receive the death penalty.

In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, investigators and terrorism analysts speculated on the motivations of the perpetrators. Initially, U.S. officials announced that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been radicalized in Russia when he visited the country the previous year.4 Other commentators insisted that the two brothers had been radicalized in America. And a small but vocal minority insisted that the brothers were part of a larger conspiracy to further a particular political agenda. To get to the bottom of the case, it is instructive to examine the background of the Tsarnaev family and the troubled region of the world from which they came.

Background on the Tsarnaev Family

The Tsarnaev brothers’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen originally from Kyrgyzstan, made plans to emigrate to America as political turmoil convulsed his homeland in the early 2000s. According to his account, he once worked as an investigator in the prosecutor’s office in the nation’s capital, Bishkek.5 After a new war broke out in Chechnya in 1999, Kyrgyz authorities (perhaps under pressure from the Kremlin) began purging the government’s ranks of anyone with a Chechen background. Anzor claimed that Kyrgyz authorities threw him in jail where he was subjected to severe beatings. It was these alleged abuses that served as a basis for the family’s application for refugee status in the United States.6 According to another account, Anzor had attempted to prosecute members of the Russian mob, but was abducted and tortured for a week so severely that he nearly died.7 Yet another version contends that he suffered no abuse, but just wanted to emigrate to America in order to build a better life for himself and his family.8

Around 2002, the family moved to Dagestanapparently as refugees-and settled in the city of Makhachkala. That same year, the parents and their son Dzhokar visited the United States on a 90-day tourist visa. Thanks largely to Anzor’s younger brother Ruslan-who had established a career as a successful lawyer near Washington, D.C.-the family received asylum.’1 Although they endeavored to build a new life in America, their ancestral homeland continued to loom large in their hearts and minds.

The protracted conflict with Russia has taken a devastating toll on the Chechen people.10 Historically, the Muslims in Chechnya have been secular, adhering to the Sufi branch of Islam. But as the separatist struggle against the Kremlin wore on, hundreds of Muslim volunteers from outside the region sojourned to the land to take part in the jihad.11 What at first was a nationalist struggle of self-determination morphed into an Islamist jihad with the Caucasus emerging as a critical theater. As a consequence, Chechen politics became both Islamized and internationalized, laying the groundwork for future conflict.12 The global jihadist movement sought to use the Chechen struggle for independence as a vehicle to transform the Caucasus into an Islamist stronghold. With that achieved, the Islamists could use the region as a springboard to launch terrorist strikes into Russia, Europe, and the Middle East.13 After the Russian Army crushed the second Chechen rebellion in the spring of 2009, the fulcrum of radical Islam shifted to Dagestan, which became the epicenter of a simmering insurgency in the Caucasus. What’s more, in recent years, Chechen militants have staged a comeback, carrying out a number of deadly terrorist attacks in Russia.14

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Kremlin was seen as a partner in the U.S.-led war against Islamic terrorism insofar as the Russian army had been fighting a protracted campaign against Chechen separatists. The Kremlin supported the intervention in Afghanistan by allowing the U.S. military to use bases in the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia over which it still exerted a strong influence.15 Nevertheless, the U.S. government has never wholeheartedly supported the Kremlin’s campaigns to squelch the jihad in the Caucasus. In fact, in the late 1990s, the Clinton administration even provided tacit encouragement to both its Muslim allies and private security companies to assist Islamist rebels in Chechnya. Presumably, this policy intended to weaken Russia’s hold over the region so that western firms could move forward with their plans to construct the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline which runs through the Caucasus region.16 The pipeline could make Europe less dependent on Russian energy products and also provide a huge windfall for Western oil companies. Since numerous outside parties have a stake in the Caucasus, it is not unreasonable to assume that real conspiracies are and have been devised to achieve various geopolitical ends.

Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombing

Although mainstream commentators usually dismiss conspiracy theories as groundless, they are indeed a fact of political life. As Middle Eastern scholar Daniel Pipes once conceded, conspiracies occasionally do occur. But as he noted, the major difference between mainstream historians and conspiracy theorists is that while the former see conspiracies as sporadic and part of the context of events in which they occur, the latter see conspiracies as the driving force of history.17

Shortly after the Boston Marathon attack, a number of commentators dubbed the incident a "false flag operation"-a maneuver used to divert attention away from the responsible party.

The right leaning commentator Glenn Beck was one of the first persons to claim that Saudis were involved in the attack.18 According to this theory, the Tsarnaev brothers were double-agents hired by U.S. and Saudi intelligence to penetrate Wahhabi jihadist networks. Instead, the brothers betrayed their mission and targeted the United States. As proof of this conspiracy, it was noted that the FBI questioned a Saudi student with badly burned hands about his involvement in the incident.19 Subsequent investigations, however, undercut the plausibility of this theory.

Writing for the far right website, Veterans Today, Kevin Barrett drew parallels between the attack in Boston and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As he pointed out, the suspects in both incidents were earmarked as enemies of the state. While Lee Harvey Oswald was once an outspoken communist, the Tsarnaev brothers were radical Islamists. And just as the FBI had once shadowed Oswald, the FBI and CIA were certainly aware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his extremism. In the end, Barrett averred that the Tsarnaev brothers were patsies who were railroaded in order to conceal the true perpetrators-"the U.S. National Security State and its Israeli handlers."20

Cliff Kincaid also used the Oswald analogy, but instead implicated the Russian security services in the Boston Marathon attack. Before the JFK assassination, Oswald was an outspoken pro-Castro Marxist who had defected to the Soviet Union. Yet he returned to America after just a few years, suggesting to some observers that he was controlled by Soviet handlers. Analogously, Kincaid asked, if the Russian intelligence agencies really thought Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a threat, why did they not arrest or detain him upon his trip to Russia in 2012? To Kincaid, it was a classic case of cui bono-"who benefits?" After the attack in Boston, President Barack Obama lauded the Russian government for its close cooperation in the investigation, and used the tragedy to seek closer ties between the two nations.21

Adding a veneer of credibility to Kincaid’s theory, the Russian journalist Masha Gessen has implicated Vladimir Putin in a number of false flag terrorist events as pretexts for a power grab. For instance, a crisis gripped Russia in September of 1999, as Moscow and other Russian cities were terrorized by a series of explosions. All told, nearly 200 people were killed and many more injured in the attacks. The crisis cried out for a muscular response, and later that same month, a group of 24 governors (more than a quarter of governors in the federation) wrote a letter to then Russian President Boris Yeltsin requesting that he yield more power to Prime Minister Putin so that he could better handle the crisis. To assuage the nation’s fears, Putin appeared on Russian television and announced that he would hunt down the terrorists, after which his popularity soared. Initially, nearly everyone suspected that Chechens were responsible for the attacks. However, that conclusion was called into question when a bus driver returning home to his apartment in Ryazan noticed a man and a woman unloading heavy-looking sacks into a cellar. His suspicion raised, he contacted the police who discovered three fifty-kilogram sacks marked SUGAR stacked one atop another. Closer examination through a slit in the top stack revealed wires and a clock. Chemical tests determined that the substance contained in the stacks was hexogen-a powerful explosive. The head of the FSB (the Russian Federal Security Bureau, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB) Nikolai Patrushev, Putin’s replacement, dismissed the episode as a training exercise and maintained that the bags indeed contained sugar. The whole exercise, he explained, was to test the alertness of the people of Ryazan and the preparedness of the police. Coincidentally, the terrorist bombings stopped after the incident. Over six months, journalists from the Russian television station NTV pieced together the story and pointed out its inconsistencies, suggesting that the FSB was behind the attacks as part of a false flag campaign to provide Putin with a pretext to snatch more power.22 In addition, Russian and American journalist Masha Gessen implied that Putin may have orchestrated the October 2002 siege of a Moscow theater that left 129 hostages and 39 of the captors dead. Finally, she suspected that he gave orders to assassinate political dissidents.23 Despite these previous episodes, there is no direct evidence that the Kremlin was behind the Boston Marathon bombing.

Within an hour of the Boston attack, Alex Jones, who operates the Texas-based Infowars website, described the incident as a false flag operation, presumably orchestrated by the U.S. government as a pretext to curtail civil liberties and implement more stringent homeland security measures. Lending credence to his assertions, the next day the Russian newspaper Izvestia (Russian for "delivered messages"), reported that it had obtained a report by "Colonel Gregory Chanturia" of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs that said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had attended a workshop sponsored by the Caucasus Fund-a shadowy organization which is purportedly connected to a CIA-funded think tank called the Jamestown Foundation.24 According to the story, the FSB implied that the Tsarnaev brothers were controlled by someone within the United States. Created in 1984 and funded in part by then-CIA Director William Casey, the Jamestown Foundation has often been characterized as "neo-conservative" in orientation.25 In the past, the Russian media have accused the think tank of spreading anti-Russian propaganda.

The Caucasus Fund, or the Kavkazsky Fund as it was alternatively known, was established in November 2008, just two months after the Russian military made a brief incursion into South Ossetia ostensibly to protect ethnic Russians who reside there. While a presidential candidate in 2008, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) proposed a policy to support Chechen and North Caucasus secession after Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. According to the investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, the Obama administration followed through with this proposal and funneled money to the secessionists through the U.S. Agency for International Development, George Soro’s Open Society Foundations, Freedom House, and the Jamestown Foundation.26 To further this putatively anti-Russian policy, in January of 2012, President Barack Obama appointed a Soros activist, Michael McFaul, to serve as the U.S. ambassador in Moscow. Allegedly, McFaul "threw open the doors" of the embassy to a variety of opposition activistsincluding secessionists-some of whom were suspected of being linked to terrorists according to the FSB. In February of 2014, McFaul announced that he was stepping down from his post. During his tenure as ambassador, he frequently clashed with the Kremlin.27

In the summer of 2012, the Caucasus Fund conducted workshops and seminars for young people from the Caucasus in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.28 Russia Today charged that the purpose of these seminars was to recruit people to instigate instability and extremism in the southern regions of Russia.29 Indeed, this seemed to have been an objective in the past. For instance, in 2007, the Jamestown Foundation held a seminar that was attended by militants loyal to Aslan Maskhadov, a prominent Chechen separatist leader and "president" of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ichkeria.30 Adding more suspicion was the fact that the Caucasus Fund’s office was located in Boston, not far from the city of Cambridge where the Tsarnaev family lived.31 Not long after the 2012 seminars, the Caucasus Fund was shut down.32 According to the narrative, the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev became a classic case of blowback not unlike that of Osama bin Laden who, though once allied with the United States during the Soviet-Afghan War, eventually broke with his former benefactors.33 Even the Georgian President, Bidzina Ivanishvili, expressed his concerns over the allegations, commenting that an investigation into the matter was under way. If determined to be true, he confirmed that the charges would be "shocking."34

The fact that the FBI was able to identify the suspects so quickly suggested that the two brothers were on a terrorism watch list. It is now public information that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies were aware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his radical leanings. After the bombings, the FBI acknowledged that it had received inquiries from the Russian government about Tamerlan Tsarnaev warning about his extremist tendencies. The first Russian request came in March of 2011 via the FBI’s Legal Attaché office at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.35 The FBI conceded that it had conducted a short interview with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, but concluded that he posed no threat.36 Nevertheless, his name was added to a number of terror watch lists.37 In September 2011, Russian authorities issued a second request, this time to the CIA.38 Tamerlan’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, told Russia Today that the FBI paid her regular visits and warned her that Tamerlan was an "extremist leader" who was influenced by jihadist web sites.39 She claimed that her family was under constant FBI surveillance, maintaining that the FBI controlled Tamerlan’s every step. Likewise, Anzor Tsarnaev opined that his sons may have been set up and were actually innocent.40

The Kremlin-run newspaper, Izvestia has an axe to grind. To be sure, the Jamestown Foundation regularly reports on unrest in the Caucasus and is critical of the Russian government’s policy in the region. Nevertheless, the think tank categorically rejected the allegations, calling the article "entirely false and groundless" and denying that it had any contact with the Tsarnaev brothers. What is more, the think tank maintained that the alleged person who released the report-Georgian Colonel Gregory Chanturia-did not even exist.41 The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs concurred, declaring that it never had an employee by that name.42 Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili denied that the previous Georgian government ever recruited or trained Chechens with the aim of infiltrating them into the Russian Federation.43 Nevertheless, his administration had become increasingly anti-Russian in its foreign policy, which is not surprising considering the two countries fought a short war in 2008 and were adversaries before that. For his part, Gela Kmaldaze, the former vice president of the Caucasus Fund, denied that Tamerlan Tsarnaev took part in any activities related to the organization. Furthermore, he denied any covert plan to recruit separatist rebels. According to Kmaldaze, the only event the Caucasus Fund sponsored in which Chechens participated took place in April 2012, which consisted of roughly 15 journalists officially sent from the Chechen government. He maintained that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not among them.44 Likewise, Alan Cullison, a writer for the Wall Street Journal who knew the Tsarnaev family, talked to some of the attendees and they denied seeing Tamerlan at the event.45

Despite a lack of evidence of any official complicity, conspiracy theorists focused on the fact that individuals connected to U.S. intelligence agencies did indeed have connections to the Tsarnaev family.46 For instance, the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni (formerly known as Ruslan Tsarnaev), was once married to Samantha Fuller, the daughter of Graham Fuller, a former CIA chief who was once stationed in Kabul.47 Sometime in the early 1990s, the couple met while Ruslan was attending the law school at Duke University and Samantha was a graduate student in North Carolina.48 Ruslan once lived in Graham Fuller’s home for a year during which he established the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, a charitable front that among other things supported a radical Jordanian Islamist of Chechen extraction, Sheik Muhammad Fathi, with the purpose of aiding Chechen rebels. The U.S. Treasury Department later shut down the charity after it determined that it was a "financer of terrorism." To conspiracy theorists this is significant because it exposes a Chechen front group that was created by the son-in-law of a top CIA official who used this same official’s home address for the said organization.49

Adding another strange twist to the CIA angle, back in 2011, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was introduced by his high school English teacher, Steve Matteo, to Brian Glyn Williams, a leading expert on Chechnya and a professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. While still a high school student, Dzhokhar exchanged emails with Williams about the conflict in Chechnya.50 The description of Williams’ book, Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda, acknowledges his connection to the CIA.51 Williams also authored articles for the Jamestown Foundation, which leads some observers to speculate that he may have introduced Tamerlan to the think tank.52 Despite the Tsarnaev family’s connections to the CIA, however, the weight of the evidence suggests that they were not directed by some outside agency. Rather, their actions seem to have followed a rather typical trajectory characteristic of Muslim radicals in the west.

Disappointment and Radicalizatlon

From surface appearances, the Tsarnaev family appeared to be well on their way to assimilation and building a better future in America. But in reality, the Tsarnaevs were a very troubled family. A long history of social dysfunction plagued them. All members of the family had experienced a series of disappointments and difficulties over the past several years, which had a cumulative effect.53 With only limited English language skills, the father Anzor earned money in America as an unlicensed auto mechanic. His wife Zubeidat attended a cosmetology school and earned money by giving facials. Together, they were just barely able to eke out a living for their family. While in Cambridge, the family lived in subsidized Section 8 housing.54 Both of the daughters married and became pregnant while still teenagers. Their marriages did not last long and the two now share an apartment in New Jersey. In August of 2011, Anzor and Zubeidat divorced, citing an irrevocable breakdown of their 25-year marriage. The brothers’ violence seems to have been rooted in the turbulent collapse of their family and their personal failures. Alan Cullison found that the Tsarnaev brothers fit the profile of numerous failed suicide bombers he interviewed in Afghan prisons. All were young men with few prospects.55

Tamerlan seems to have been the most troubled and frustrated of the family. After graduation from high school in 2006, he applied for admission at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, but was rejected because of his mediocre grades. In the fall of that year, he enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College, but dropped out after three semesters. Still, Tamerlan showed great promise as an athlete. Twice, he won the Golden Gloves boxing championship in New England in the heavyweight division, which seemed to augur well for a chance on the U.S. Olympic team. From there, he hoped to launch a successful pro boxing career, which his father encouraged. But a change in policy that excluded all non-U.S. citizens from competing for the national title precluded Tamerlan from achieving his dream.56

Both parents were worried that Tamerlan was not living up to his potential. Slipping into depression, he turned to drinking and drugs. After his boxing career faltered, Tamerlan became "rudderless," but soon thereafter, his religious convictions began to deepen.57 He eschewed late night partying and drinking with his friends, though he still smoked marijuana. His secular father rejected his son’s newfound piety, creating a source of friction between the two, but his mother spoke proudly of her son’s religious awakening.58

Despite his outward confidence, Tamerlan had a hard time fitting in. In fact, Tamerlan once remarked that he did not have any American friends. Nevertheless, he married a student at Suffolk University-Katherine Russell-who came from an upper-middle-class family in Rhode Island. After becoming pregnant, she dropped out of college in her senior year and married Tamerlan. To please her new husband, she converted to Islam and began wearing the traditional Islamic hijab. Adding more grist to the conspiracy mill, Katherine was the granddaughter of Richard Warren Russell, a member of the Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale University. The quasi-secret society has long been implicated by conspiracy theorists as part of a "New World Order" conspiracy, considering the numerous highpowered alumni that have held membership.59

With few prospects for employment, Tamerlan became a stay-at-home dad. He spent much of this time surfing websites associated with Islamic militants.60 At least part of his militancy can be traced back to Russia’s protracted struggle against radical Islam in the Caucasus. Tamerlan had an idealized notion of the Chechen jihad. On his YouTube account, he uploaded videos that valorized the jihadist fighters.61 He read articles that decried the mistreatment of Muslim inmates at Guantanamo Bay and the use of U.S. military drones and their collateral damage of civilians.62 Another important source of information for him was Inspire, an English-language online magazine that was created in 2010 by an al Qaeda-affiliated group based in Yemen. A frequent contributor to the magazine was Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemini cleric who grew up in New Mexico and played an important operational role for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. By skillfully combining religious doctrine with colloquial Western references, al-Awlaki appealed to disaffected Muslims in the West whom he enjoined to support al Qaeda’s jihad.63 Tamerlan once downloaded a digital copy of a book for which al-Awlaki wrote a foreword. The book directed Muslims not to give allegiance to countries such as the United States that had invaded Muslim lands.64 After he was apprehended, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev confirmed to the FBI that he was influenced by the Internet sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki. The tone of these articles and lectures was often urgent, exhorting readers to act before it is too late.

Tamerlan was eclectic in his reading habits. Rightist literature informed his worldview as well. He was an avid follower of Alex Jones’ Infowar website which advocates numerous conspiracy theoriesfor example, the idea that 9/11 was an inside job carried out by U.S. intelligence agencies.65 Some of Tamerlan’s reading material espoused white supremacy and was sympathetic to Adolf Hitler. His collection included copies of The First Freedom, an Alabama-based newspaper that promoted "equal rights for white people" and The Sovereign, a newspaper that once claimed that the U.S. government was building a robot army to wage war against Americans on behalf of Israel.66 Also on his reading list was the newspaper American Free Press, the most important organ of the far right.67

As he delved deeper into extremist subcultures, Tamerlan began to see Jews as the instigators of evil around the world. In his reading collection was a marked-up copy of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, an early 20th century tract that purports to be the minutes of a meeting of Zionist leaders who plan a fantastic plot to conquer the world and enslave Gentiles.68 The small but influential tract has long been a staple in the literature of the extreme right and more recently among anti-Zionists in the Muslim World as well, despite being repeatedly debunked as a hoax. Intrigued by its message, Tamerlan once encouraged his landlady to read the booklet.69 On the surface, these political views may seem divergent, but there is actually common ground. Extremists on the right see Jews as the principal enemy of the "Aryan" peoples. And although militant Islam generally eschews racial themes, its version of anti-Zionism in many ways parallels the version of anti-Semitism found in the extreme right subculture. Both the extreme right and militant Islam charge that a Jewish conspiracy is undermining their societies through "cultural poisoning."70

Dzhokhar maintained a bifurcated life. In one role, he was quintessentially assimilated. A diligent student, he was nominated to the National Honor Society in his sophomore year in High School. His good grades earned him a scholarship to study at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. While in high school, he served as the captain of the wrestling team and even won the team’s MVP award his senior year. But while in college, he struggled academically, receiving failing grades his last three semesters.71 He ran up a debt of $20,000 to the university.72 Increasingly despondent, in March 2012, he tweeted "A decade in America already. I want out."73 He lost interest in his studies, preferring to spend his time smoking marijuana.74 Soon he began selling copious amounts of the drug, earning approximately $1,000 per week.75 With his newfound income, he became bolder in his personal life and more prone to taking risks.76

Although he still partied with his friends, Dzhokhar began spending more time with his brother. He followed his older brother’s path to radical Islam despite his own seeming dearth of ideology. Nevertheless, the pull of radical Islam became stronger over time. His tweets just before and after the attacks are illustrative. On his Twitter page, he identified the prophet Mohammad as his role model.77 In one tweet, he suggested that 9/11 was a government conspiracy. In another, he tweeted that he did not argue with people who say that Islam is terrorism. He once remarked that one should never underestimate the "rebel with a cause." Two days after the attacks, he tweeted that he was a "stress free kind of guy."78

In 2012, Tamerlan visited Russia for six months. The Russian government suspected that he was preparing to join unspecified underground rebel groups.79 Adding suspicion was the fact that Tamerlan’s distant cousin Magomed Kartashov was involved in an Islamist group called the Union of the Just. Prior to his trip, Tamerlan corresponded via the Internet with a Russian-Canadian convert to Islam named William Plotnikov, who sought to volunteer for the Islamist insurgency in Dagestan, a region neighboring Chechnya.80 During his trip to Dagestan, Tamerlan’s closest militant contact was a young man named Mahmud Mansur Nidal. The two were often seen together at a Salafist mosque that was popular with Muslim rebels. Nidal eventually "went into the forest" as locals refer to joining a militant group, but there was no evidence that Tamerlan followed him. Nidal was later killed in a police raid when he returned to visit his family.81 Likewise, Plotnikov was also killed in a confrontation with Russian security forces at the same time during Tamerlan’s 2012 stay in Dagestan.82 After their deaths, Tamerlan suddenly left Dagestan and rushed to Moscow to catch a plane back to the United States, oddly enough without picking up the passport for which he originally claimed to have made the trip in the first place.83

When he returned to Cambridge in July of 2012, Tamerlan became more vociferous about the virtues of Islam.84 His acquaintances noticed that he had visibly changed. He grew a five-inch beard and eschewed the flashy sartorial style that he once preferred for more Muslim attire. Although Tamerlan identified strongly with the separatist struggles in the Caucasus, he seems to have adopted the radical Islamist worldview espoused by al Qaeda, which despite the organization’s occasional condemnations of Russian policy in the Caucasus, identifies the United States and Israel as its primary enemies. More and more, Tamerlan expressed anger over U.S. foreign policy and U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frustrations in his personal life continued to mount as well. In early February 2013, soon after losing his housing subsidy, he drove to New Hampshire and purchased 48 mortars containing approximately eight pounds of explosive powder.85 Supposedly, the brothers followed instructions in an article featured in Inspire magazine titled "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom" to fabricate their bombs used in the attack. The article detailed instructions on how to make an IED using a pressure cooker, explosive powder from fireworks, and shrapnel among other commonly available ingredients.86 On April 5, Tamerlan went online to order electronic components that could be used in making IEDs.87

Previous incidents suggest that a violent streak ran deep in the Tsarnaev family. After the Boston Marathon bombings as details of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s personal life emerged, there was renewed suspicion that he might have been involved in a triple murder that took place in nearby Waltham in September 2011. Three men-Brendan Mess, Raphael Teken, and Erik Weissman-were found with their throats slit, a method of execution characteristically used by Islamist radicals against Western hostages. All three men were believed to be Jewish. Furthermore, the date of the homicidesthe loth anniversary of 9/11-suggests a symbolic element. Their bodies were strewn with thousands of dollars’ worth of marijuana, and $5,000 in cash was recovered at the scene, suggesting that robbery was not a motive in the crime.88 At one time, the three victims were friends of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.89 On May 22, 2013, the case took a bizarre twist when FBI agents interviewed Ibragim Todashev, a 27-year-old Chechen native and former associate of Tamerlan. After approximately eight hours of questioning at his residence in Orlando, he began writing a formal statement implicating himself and Tamerlan in the murders, but suddenly attacked his interrogators after which he was shot and killed.90

Upon hearing that his two nephews were identified as the chief suspects in the Boston Marathon attack, Ruslan denounced them, characterizing them as "losers" whose minds were "stolen" by an radical Muslim cleric known to the family only as "Misha."91 The heavyset man with a long reddish beard supposedly instructed Tamerlan on the proper life for a Muslim.92 It soon transpired that the enigmatic mentor was an ethnic Armenian-Ukrainian convert to Islam by the name of Mikhail Allakhverdov, an unassuming man who lived in an apartment with his two elderly parents in a lower middle class neighborhood. Allakhverdov had become acquainted with Tamerlan sometime while living in Boston from 2008 to 2010, but had not had any contact with him after he left the city.93 Ironically, one writer suspected that Allakhverdov may have been an FBI informant who had been grooming Tamerlan for a federal sting operation before giving up.94 These controversial tactics have netted dozens of young Muslim would-be-terrorists since 9/11.95

In addition to personal failures, there is speculation that Tamerlan suffered from mental illness as well. His friend Donald Larking described Tamerlan as a man who became increasingly paranoid, believing that he heard "voices in his head" and that his "brain was telling [him] stuff to do."96 Tamerlan confided these thoughts to his family and friendssymptoms which might have been schizophrenia. To make things worse, the head trauma he incurred from his boxing career could have contributed to his mental health problems as well.97 Taken together, a variety of personal issues seems to have impelled the Tsarnaev brothers to commit their terrorist attack.

Conclusion: The Lone Wolf Path

Shortly after the two suspects were identified, numerous online support groups emerged, both in Russia and the United States, maintaining the Tsarnaev brothers’ innocence. In Russia, the two were depicted as victims of U.S. reprisals against Muslims. At first blush, such sentiment seems odd in Russia. After all, the Russian government has been involved in a protracted on-again-off-again insurgency in the province of Chechnya for over 20 years. Be that as it may, there is a widespread belief in the former Soviet Union that the United States is responsible for all the misfortunes and sufferings of the Islamic world.98 But despite numerous in-depth investigations, no smoking gun has been adduced to prove a CIA conspiracy. Furthermore, the conspiracy theory that implicates the Russian government seems implausible as well. After all, the FSB contacted U.S. authorities on numerous occasions, warning about Tamerlan’s extremism.

Instead, the brothers’ violence appears to have been inspired in large part by their escalating personal failures along with the dissident ideology of radical Islam, which added force to their grievances." As terrorism analyst Bruce Hoffman commented, the brothers were "jihadi autodidacts" who relied upon numerous sources to shape their thinking.100 After his arrest, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev informed investigators that he and his brother were not directed by any foreign terrorist organization. Instead, they were self-radicalized and motivated in part by the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.101 He admitted his guilt, but immediately stopped cooperating after his Miranda rights were read.102 As one of his acquaintances noted, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a "Muslim of convenience" in the sense that he used the plight of Muslims as an allegory for his own personal failures. For most of his life, he rarely prayed, but after his boxing career faltered, he increasingly latched on to Islam.103 He identified himself as part of a besieged Muslim ummah (community) under attack by the United States and Israel. Likewise, his younger brother Dzhokar from surface appearances seemed to be a well-assimilated youth. Nevertheless, he too identified with the narrative of an embattled ummah, proclaiming in a note he scrawled on the wall of the boat in which he hid shortly before his capture: "We Muslims are one body. You hurt one you hurt us all. Fuck America!"104

Their path to jihad is not unlike that of other young Muslim men who came before them. In his study Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, the noted French scholar of Islam, Olivier Roy, explained that Muslims in the West often experience a trauma of "deterritorialization" because they feel estranged from their native lands. To overcome their anomie and alienation, young Muslim men in particular look for solace in a new, purified Islam and attach themselves to a "virtual ummah," a Muslim community built on the World Wide Web.105

The conventional wisdom among terrorism analysts is that the brothers were emblematic of the lone wolf trend and were largely self-radicalized. Despite episodes of sporadic violence, some observers dismiss the notion of "leaderless resistance" as primarily a nuisance: It poses no substantial or existential threat to the nation, they say, and is more aptly consigned to the field of abnormal psychology. Nevertheless, even persons who may have psychological problems can commit acts of violence motivated in part by political ideologies. In fact, they may prove to be the most susceptible to extremist exhortations to violence. After all, people with a stake in the system who have something to lose may be less likely to risk death or a long prison sentence.106

Although Tamerlan Tsarnaev came into contact with U.S. intelligence agencies, there is no evidence to suggest that they were behind his radicalization. However, a great dealt of his personal life that has been revealed suggests that he followed a trajectory similar to that of many other self-radicalized terrorists. Despite his ambition, intelligence, and athletic talent, he experienced numerous personal setbacks. In a sense, his frustration is emblematic of many members of the millennial generation who try to find a niche in contemporary America but find few opportunities.


1. Eric Moskowitz, "Carjack victim recounts his harrowing night,", April 25, 2013, metrodesk/2013/04/25/carjack-victim-recounts-his-harrowing-night/BhQ WGzarWee8MZ6KtMHJNN/story.html.

2. Christian Caryt, "The Bomber’s World," The New York Review of Books, June 6, 2013, articles/archives/2013/jun/06/ bombers-world/?pagination=false.

3. Dylan Stableford, "Tsarnaev’s condition improves: brothers reportedly motivated by U.S. wars," Yahoo News, April 23, 2013, com/blogs/lookout/tsarnaev-condition-motive-wars-193132367.html.

4. For example, Secretary of State John Kerry opined that after Tamerlan’s trip to his native Dagestan in 2012, "he came back with a willingness to kill people." Daniel Harper, "Kerry: Boston Bomber Radicalized in Russia, Chechnya-‘Came Back With a Willingness to Kill,’" The Weekly Standard, April 24, 2013, me-back-willingness-kilL719057.html.

5. Alan Cullison, "A Family Terror: The Tsarnaevs and the Boston Bombing," The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2013, news/articles/SB1000142405270 23044777045792544822546996 74. He claimed to have earned a law degree, but there is no record that he attended the university in Bishkek where he lived. Sally Jacobs, David Filipov, and Patricia Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev," The Boston Globe, December 16, 2003, http:// /2011-2020/WebGraphics/Metro/ sarnaev/tsarnaev.html.

6. Caryl, "The Bomber’s World."

7. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

8. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

9. Cullison, "A Family Terror: The Tsarnaevs and the Boston Bombing."

10. An unofficial report released by the Chechen government in 2005, estimated the combined death toll of both wars reached 160,000. Man Berman, Implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for America. (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Company, 2013), p. 50.

11. Yosseff Bodansky, Chechen Jihad: AI Qaeda’s Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror. (New York: HarperCollins, 2007).

12. Berman, implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for America, p. 43.

13. Bodansky, Chechen Jihad: AI Qaeda’s Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror, p. 2.

14. Berman, Implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for America, p. 44.

15. Barak Mendelsohn, Combating Jihadism: American Hegemony and Interstate Cooperation In the War on Terrorism. (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2009).

16. Bodansky, Chechen Jihad: AI Qaeda’s Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror, p. 175.

17. Pipes cited numerous examples in the Middle East. For instance, the European powers conspired to divide up the Middle East during World War I as part of the secretive Sykes-Picot agreement. In 1954 the Israeli government operatives bombed US targets in Egypt and blamed it on Egypt in an operation that became known as the "Lavon Affair." Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy. (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998), pp. 9-10.

18. Boston Bombings Produce Conspiracy Theories, Violence," Intelligence Report, (Fall 2013) Issue 151, http:// intelligence%20report/browse%20all %20issues/2013/fall/Boston%20 Bombings%20%20Produce%20 Conspiracy%20%20Th.

19. "Debka: Tsarnaev Brothers were Double Agents Who Decoyed US Into Terror Trap," DEBKAfile, April 24, 2013, downloaded from http://matzav. com/debka-tsarnaev-brothers-weredouble-agents-who-decoyed-us-intoterror-trap.

20. Kevin Barrett, "The Brothers Tsarnaev: The Lee Harvey Oswalds of the Boston bombings?" Veterans Today, April 24, 2013, http://www.veterans

21. Cliff Kincaid, "Is Tamerlan Tsarnaev the new Lee Harvey Oswald? Renew America, May 1, 2013, http://www. /130501.

22. Masha Gessen, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. (New York: Blue Riverhead Books, 2012). pp. 36-40. Edward Lucas, a journalist who has covered Eastern Europe for over twenty-five years, also found the attack suspicious because previously Chechen operatives had not demonstrated the sophistication to use explosives so professionally. Edward Lucas, The New Cold War: Putin ‘s Russia and the Threat to the West. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 23.

23. On its surface, Chechen terrorists appeared responsible for the attack. Subsequent investigations, however, conjectured that the Russian secret police may have orchestrated the event. In 2004 an investigative journalist who covered the story, Anna Politkovskaya, was poisoned from an undisclosed toxin. She never fully recovered, thus ending her investigation as to what was really happened in Beslan. Two years later, she was shot dead in the elevator of the apartment building where she lived. Other dissidents found the same fate. After he fled from Russia to England in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, an FSB whistle blower who exposed misconduct in the agency, including an alleged order to kill the notorious oligarch Boris Berezovsky, rapidly died of poisoning. It later transpired that the poison was polonium, a highly radioactive substance which is lethal if ingested. Masha Gessen asserts that the authorization for the poisoning Litvinenko must have come from Putin himself. Gessen, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.

24. "Slain Boston suspect Tsarnaev may have attended seminars in Georgia-reports," RT, April 30, 2013, http://rt .com/news/attended-acts-terrorseminars-329/. Alex Jones’ site, Infowars, which first broke the story in the English language. Kurt Nimmo, "Tamerlan Tsarnaev Attended CIAsponsored Workshop,", April 24, 2013, http://www.infowars. com/tamerlan-tsarnaev-attendedcia-sponsored-workshop/.

25. The think tank employed high-ranking Eastern bloc defectors Including former Soviet Undersecretary General of the UN Akady Shevchenko and the former Romanian intelligence official Ion Pacepa. Wayne Madsen, "The Ties That Bind Washington to Chechen Terrorists," Strategic Culture Foundation, April 26, 2013,

26. Reportedly, up to $2.5 million was allocated to the fund as of January 2013. "Slain Boston suspect Tsarnaev may have attended seminars in Georgia-reports."

27. "US Ambassador to Russia to leave after two years," Yahoo News, February 4, 2014, /outspoken-us-ambassador-russialeave-two-years-131109383.html.

28. Madsen, "The Ties That Bind Washington to Chechen Terrorists."

29. "Slain Boston suspect Tsarnaev may have attended seminars in Georgia-reports," RT.

30. In 2005, Maskhadov was killed in a special operation by security services. "Slain Boston suspect Tsarnaev may have attended seminars in Georgia-reports." The Jamestown Foundation’s president, Glen Howard opined back in 2007 that the Russian government felt threatened by the think tank. "Moscow criticizes U.S. think-tank over debate." Reuters, December 7, 2007, /2007/12/07/us-russia-usa-james town-idUSL0715123120071207.

31. Google listed the address for the Caucasus Fund LLC as 31 Milk Street, Boston, MA 02109. .com/114928879405433304709 /about?gl=us&hl=en.

32. Wayne Madsen, "Washington’s "Civil Society": CIA Financing of Chechen and Caucasus Regional Terrorists," Global Research, May 6, 2013, l-terrorists/5333359.

33. Madsen, "The Ties That Bind Washington to Chechen Terrorists."

34. "Slain Boston suspect Tsarnaev may have attended seminars in Georgia-reports." Ivanishvili resigned his presidency after the 2013 presidential election and named Irakli Gharibashvili as his successor.

35. Russian authorities claimed to have eavesdropped on a telephone conversation between Tamerlan and his mother in which the topic of jihad was mentioned. This revelation supposedly prompted the FSB to tip off U.S. investigators about its suspicions regarding Tamerlan Tsarnaev who maintained ties with extremist elements in the Caucasus region. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

36. "Debka: Tsarnaev Brothers were Double Agents Who Decoyed US Into Terror Trap," DEBKAfile.

37. For instance, his name was entered into the Treasury Enforcement Communication System, or TECS, which is used to check for terrorism suspects at the border. Haroon Siddique, "Boston bombing suspect was put on terrorist database 18 months ago," Later, his name was placed on another US terrorism watch list-the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE)-a database estimated to hold more than 750,000 entries which was created after 9/11 and maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia. Haroon Siddique, "Boston bombing suspect was put on terrorist database 18 months ago," The Guardian, April 25, 2013, http:// apr/25/boston-bombing-suspectterrorist-database.

38. Wayne Madsen, "Tamerlan’s Tsarnaev’s links to CIA Operations in the Caucasus," Wayne Madsen Report, April 25, 2013, 2013/04/28/tamerlan-tsarnaevslinks-to-cia-operations-in-caucasus /#.UtQ9q9JdUfX.

39. "’Tamerlan was not a religious fanatic’ -Tsarnaevs’ relative to RT," RT, April 23,2013, -tsarnaev-relative-boston-160/.

40. "’Tamerlan was not a religious fanatic’ -Tsarnaevs’ relative to RT."

41. "Jamestown Foundation Responds to False Izvestia Article About Tsarnaev Link," April 26, 2013, jamestown-foundation-responds-tofalse.html.

42. Eka Janashia, "Russia’s Izvestia Blames Georgia Of Supporting Terrorists," The Central Asia-Caucasus ANALYST, May 3, 2013, /publications/field-reports/item/ 12726-russias-izvestia-blames-georgia -of-supporting-terrorists.html.

43. "Slain Boston suspect Tsarnaev may have attended seminars in Georgia-reports." Russia Today, April 30, 2013, http://rt. com/news/attended-acts-terror-seminars-329/.

44. Moreover, Kmaldaze denied any connection to the Jamestown Foundation or receiving funding from any American source. Instead, he maintained that funding came exclusively from private donations made by Georgian businessmen. Irina Gordienko (translated by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick), "Former Caucasus Fund VP Denies Izvestia Claims," Novaya Gazeta, April 24, 2013, http:// sus-fund-vp-denies-izvestiya-claims/.

45. Furthermore, Cullison noted that there is no evidence that Tamerlan crossed the border into Georgia during his 2012 trip to Russia. His parents were not aware of any intention on the part of Tamerlan to travel to Georgia. Although his parents may have bent the truth in the past, there seems to be no reason why they would be untruthful about this particular episode. Finally, Cullison notes that in recent years, Izvestia has become a shameless promoter of the Kremlin. Email interview with Alan Cullison, December 21, 2013.

46. This author sent inquiries to the public affairs offices of both the FBI and the CIA. Both offices informed me that they would neither confirm nor deny information about the putative connection between the Jamestown Foundation and the Tsarnaev brothers. It should be noted, though, that this is standard policy for both agencies.

47. Fuller was believed to have been instrumental in the CIA’s covert operation to support the mujahedeen during the Soviet-Afghan War. He once opined "The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter Chinese influence in Central Asia." Quoted in Monica Perez, "Tsarnaev’s CIA Connections," May 14, 2013, http:// 05/14/tsarnaevs-cia-connections/.

48. The couple divorced sometime in 2004. "Tsarnaev Wife Skull and Bones, CIA Family Connections," 21st Century Wire, May 7, 2013, http://21stcenturywire. com/2013/05/04/tsarnaev-wife-skulland-bones-cia-family-connections/.

49. Joe Giambrone, "Uncle Ruslan Tsarni’s Organization May Have Funded Terrorists," Foreign Policy Journal, May 3, 2013, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal .com/2013/05/03/uncle-ruslan-tsarnis -organizatiorvm ay-have-funded-terrorists/.

50. Steve Urbon, "UMD Professor: T hope I didn’t contribute,’", April 20, 2013, http://www.southcoast AID=/20130420/NEWS/304200341.

51. According to a description on the web site: "Having traveled extensively in the Pashtun tribal areas while working for the U.S. military and the CIA, Williams explores in detail the new technology of airborne assassinations." ators-The-CIAs-Drone-Qaeda/dp/1612 346170.

52. Guillermo Jimenez, "The Tsarnaevs and the CIA-Part 2: Who is Brian Glyn Williams?" Traces of Reality, May 10, 2013, 2013/05/10/the-tsarnaevs-and-thecia-part-2-who-is-brian-glyn-williams/.

53. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

54. Cullison, "A Family Terror: The Tsarnaevs and the Boston Bombing."

55. Ibid.

56. Janet Reitman, "Jahar’s World," Rolling Stone, (August 1, 2013), Issue 1188, p. 52.

57. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

58. Caryl, "The Bomber’s World."

59. "Tsarnaev Wife Skull and Bones, CIA Family Connections." For more on the Skull and Bones Society from a conspiratorial perspective, see Anthony C. Sutton, America’s Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Skull & Bones. (Billings, MT: Liberty House Press, 1986).

60. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

61. Among his favorite videos was one that denounced Dagestan’s traditional Sufi Muslims as heretical idol worshipers. Alissa De Carbonnel and Stephanie Simon, "Special Report: The radicalization of Tamerlan Tsarnaev," Reuter, April 23,2013, /2013/04/23/us-usaexplosions-radical isation-special-idUSBRE93M0CZ20130 423. One video featured Gadzhimurad Dolgatov (who went by the nom de guerre Abu Dujana), an obscure commander of an insurgent group in Dagestan who was killed by Russian security forces in late December 2012. Caitlin Dewey, "The obscure Russian jihadist whom Tamerlan Tsarnaev followed online," The Washington Post, April 24, 2013, http://www. /wp/2013/04/24/the-obscure-russianjihadist-whom-tamerlan-tsamaevfollowed-online/.

62. Hilary Anderson, "Tamerlan Tsarnaev had right-wing extremist literature," BBC News, August 5, 2013, http:// -23541341.

63. Al-Awlaki reached out to several American jihadists. He exerted a strong influence on Major Hasan with whom he exchanged emails several times before the attack at Fort Hood. Al-Awlaki met with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who was arrested for his alleged attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2009. His sermons also inspired Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to set off a car bomb in New York’s Time Square in May, 2010, and Zachary Chesser, a Fairfax, Virginia man of Somali origin who was arrested on charges of trying to join the Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabab. On September 30, 2011, a US military drone attack in Yemen killed al-Awlaki. Just two weeks later, another strike in Yemen killed his sixteen-year old son. Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth, "Two-Year Manhunt Led to Killing of Awlaki in Yemen," The New York Times, September 30, 2011; Associated Press, "Al-Awlaki’s Son Among AI Qaeda Militants Killed in Yemen Air Strike," October 15, 2011. For more on al-Awlaki see Catherine Herridge, The Next Wave: On the Hunt for AI Qaeda ‘s American Recruits. (New York: Crown Forum, 2012).

64. Peter Bergen and David Sterman, "Falling under the spell of a slain terrorist," June 28, 2013, http://www.cnn. com/2013/06/28/opinion/bergen-awl aki-influence/.

65. The fact that Tamerlan was an avid follower of his program was adduced by Jones as further evidence of the government’s pernicious intentions: "The federal government [is] trying to connect me to these tragedies. That’s the media and the government’s own conspiracy theories… It’s standard for them [the government] to talk to people, go through computers, and any time someone’s done something bad they connect it to us." Alex Seitz-Wald, "Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an Alex Jones fan," April 23, 2003, com/2013/04/23/tamerlan_tsarnaev _was_an_alexJones_fan/. For his part, Cliff Kincaid suggests that Alex Jones acted as a useful idiot in the sense that he implicated the U.S., rather than the Russian government. To make his case, he noted that Jones has appeared on RT television on numerous occasions and spoke out in defense of the Russian government during the conflict in South Ossetia in 2008. Furthermore, he noted that the police in Dagestan supposedly protected Anzor Tsarnaev from "excessive contacts with journalists" presumably to hide the truth surrounding the bombings. Kincaid, "Is Tamerlan Tsarnaev the new Lee Harvey Oswald?"

66. "Boston Bombing Suspect a Jihadist, But Influenced by U.S. Radical Right," Intelligence Report, (Winter 2013) Issue 152, http://www.splcenter. org/get-informed/intelligence-report /browse-all-issues/2013/winter/ boston-bombing-suspect-a-jihadist-but-influenced-by-us-radical.

67. Allan Cullison, "Boston Bombing Suspect Was Steeped in Conspiracies," The Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2013, /articles/SB1000142412788732 3420604578649830782219440.

68. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is believed to be a revision of an 1858 French novel titled Dialogues of Hell by Maurice Jolly, which parodied a Masonic plot to take over Europe. Some historians believed that agents of the Okhrana, the Czar’s secret police, appropriated the document and switched Jews for Masons as the culprits for the purpose of fomenting ire against Russian Jews because of the role some of their members played in revolutionary activities. The principal author is thought to have been Serge Nilus. For more on the history of the Protocols, see Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (London: Serif, 1996).

69. Cullison, "Boston Bombing Suspect Was Steeped in Conspiracies."

70. According to the standard extreme-right narrative, the chief aim of the Jewish conspiracy is to defile the white race through miscegenation, thus ultimately leading to its extinction as a distinct racial group. (Jews are said to see whites as their most dangerous "rivals.") Using a similar narrative, but in the framework of religion, militant Islamists argue that Jews seek first and foremost to destroy Islam because it constitutes the strongest moral challenge to perceived Jewish perfidy. Both right-wing extremists and Islamists also often invoke the status of the Palestinians as symbol of what awaits them if they do not act swiftly. George Michael, The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right. (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2006).

71. Erica Goode and Serge F. Kovaleski, "Boy at Home in U.S., Swayed by One Who Wasn’t," The New York Times, April 19, 2013, http://www.nytimes. com/2013/04/20/us/details-oftsarnaev-brothers-boston-suspectsemerge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

72. Reitman, "Jahar’s World," Rolling Stone, p. 56.

73. Reitman, "Jahar’s World," p. 56.

74. In addition, he occasionally used psychedelic drugs, including LSD and mushrooms. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

75. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

76. A friend recalled that Dzhokhar once accelerated his 1999 Honda Civic to nearly 120 miles per hour. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

77. Janet Reitman, "Jahar’s World," p. 55.

78. Lisa Tobin, "A Look At Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Twitter Account," 90.9 wbur radio, April 23, 2013, http://www. athon-tweets.

79. "2011 Request for Information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev from Foreign Government," April 19, 2013, http:// http://www.fbi .gov/news/pressrel/pressreleases/2011-request-for-information-on-tamerlan-tsarnaev-from-foreigngovernment.

80. Caryl, "The Bomber’s World."

81. Kirit Radia, "No ‘Manifesto’ But New Clues to ‘Frustrated’ Boston Suspect: Sources," ABC News, May 24, 2013,

82. Caryl, "The Bomber’s World."

83. Ibid.

84. Reitman, "Jahar’s World," p. 55.

85. Reitman, "Jahar’s World," p. 56.

86. Cullison, "Boston Bombing Suspect Was Steeped in Conspiracies."

87. Reitman, "Jahar’s World," p. 56.

88. Larry Celona, "Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev eyed in 2011 murders," New York Post, April 23, 2013, http://nypost .com/2013/04/23/boston-bomber-tam erlan-tsarnaev-eyed-in-2011-murders/.

89. Not long before Brendan Mess was killed, the victim’s relative noted that there was some animosity between him and Tamerlan over Mess’s lifestyle. Michele McPhee, "Boston Bomb Suspect Eyed in Connection to 2011 Triple Murder," ABC News, April 22, 2013, Blotter/boston-bomb-suspect-eyedconnection-2011-triple-murder/story ?id=19015628.

90. Wesley Lowery, David Filipov, and Mark Arsenault, "Slain suspect had thought about missing FBI interview," The Boston Globe, May 23, 2013, http ://www. bostonglobe .com/metro/2 013/05/23/father-man-killed-fbiagents-orlando-fla-says-his-son-was-notcapable-attacking-police/hAWCiZoteCnj T70ysmoH9L/story.html. Adding more controversy, initial reports claimed that the suspect lunged at the agents with a knife, but later reports claimed that he was unarmed. These conflicting accounts are odd considering that there should have been no confusion among a group of seasoned investigators. Conor Friedersdorf, "Why Did the FBI Kill an Unarmed Man and Clam Up?" The Atlantic, May 30, 2013, http:// 2013/05/why-did-the-fbi-kill-an-un armed-man-and-clam-up/276369/.

91. Giambrone, "Uncle Ruslan Tsarni’s Organization May Have Funded Terrorists."

92. Adam Goldman, Eric Tucker, and Matt Apuzzo, "Bomb suspect influenced by mysterious radical," Associated Press, April 23, 2013, http://nation.foxnews. com/tamerlan-tsarnaev/2013/04/ 23/ap-bomb-suspect-influencedmysterious-radical.

93. Peter Weber, "Boston bombings: Is Misha a red herring?" The Week, April 29, 2013, /index/243393/boston-bombingsis-misha-a-red-herring.

94. Walter Katz, "Finding Misha: Could the mystery man who radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev have been an FBI informant?" The Week, April 25, 2013, dicalized-tamerlan-tsarnaev-have-beenan-fbi-informant.

95. Trevor Aaronson, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. (Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing, 2013).

96. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

97. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

98. Maribek Vatchagaev, "Radicalization of Tsarnaev Brothers Likely Did Not Occur in Chechnya," Eurasia Daily Monitor. Vol. 10 Issue 88, May 2013,

99. Jacobs, Filipov, and Wen, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev."

100. Cullison, "Boston Bombing Suspect Was Steeped in Conspiracies."

101. Stableford, "Tsarnaev’s condition improves; brothers reportedly motivated by U.S. wars."

102. Initially, Justice Department investigators invoked a public safety exception and questioned Dzhokhar without reading him his Miranda rights. Luke Johnson, "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Receives Miranda Rights After Delay For Public Safety Exception," The Huffington Post, April 22, 2013, http://www. dzhokhar-tsarnaev-miranda_n_3134 745.html and Rodrigue Ngowi, Lara Jakes, and Matt Apuzzo, "Officials: Suspect Described Plot Before Miranda," AP/The Big Story, April 25, 2013, /lawmakers-ask-who-knew-what-aboutbomb-suspect.

103. Anderson, "Tamerlan Tsarnaev had right-wing extremist literature."

104. Reitman, "Jahar’s World," p. 48.

105. Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).

106. George Michael, "What’s to Stop a ‘Lone Wolf Terrorist?" The Conversation, September 5, 2012, http:// /2012/09/05/whats-to-stop-a-lonewolf-terrorist/.

Author Affiliation

Dr. George Michael received his Ph.D. from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. He is an associate professor of criminal justice at Westfield State University, MA. Previously, he was an associate professor of nuclear counter-proliferation and deterrence theory at the Air War College in Montgomery, AL. He is the author of seven books: Confronting Right-Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA, The Enemy of my Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right, Willis Carto and the American Far Right, Theology of Hate: A History of the World Church of the Creator, Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance, Extremism in America (editor), and Preparing for Contact: When Humans and Extraterrestrials Finally Meet (RVP Press, forthcoming 2014). In addition, his articles have been published in numerous academic journals.

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