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.

Central Asia Militancy – 4 Aug 14

The IMU Ascendant: How Uzbek Autocracy Empowers Terrorist Entrepreneurs
Luke Lischin
Small Wars Journal | June 28, 2014

Introduction: Crying Wolf

“An unidentified analyses department officer” at the Uzbek national security service sings along: “Hey, get up! We are facing an unexpected danger! Damned IMU shall attack us any minute from beyond the Pamir Mountains! As soon as snow on mountain slopes melts and mountain paths reveal themselves, the hordes of armed cap-a-pie militants will stream into the Fergana Valley!” The “analyst” sings back: “No, the enemy is not awaiting warmer days, the enemy is transporting its thugs already!”[i]

With sardonic wit, Uzbek journalist Yadgor Norbutayev authored the above quotation in mocking imitation of security discourses within Uzbekistan. Depicting the Uzbek security establishment as a veritable choir of “boys who cry wolf”, Norbutayev cynically accuses these individuals of spewing alarmist rhetoric in order to manipulate a reticent United States into providing the Uzbek military with advanced arms.[ii] Indeed, Uzbekistan has not been subtle about pursuing patronage from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrawing through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) in Uzbekistan, and has implored several NATO members to sell their surplus equipment to the Uzbek military.[iii]

For Norbutayev, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is nothing more than an unpleasant memory of brutal militants who perished almost a decade ago, resurrected in the rhetoric of Uzbek politicians looking for military patronage from foreign powers. Western commentators have been equally skeptical of claims that have emerged in recent years concerning the return of the IMU and its offshoots[iv], observing that the impending tide of Islamic insurgency portended over the last several years has failed to emerge. They insist that the death of the founding members of the IMU and the reports of dead Uzbek militants throughout Afghanistan in addition to the absence of large-scale violence indicates that the IMU is “fading from existence”.[v] Others, however, are less convinced.

Between 2009-2013, ISAF reported engaging Uzbek militants in Kunduz and Takhar provinces in Northern Afghanistan in increasingly frequent confrontations.  There, IMU cells mounted hit and run attacks against ISAF detachments, using the support of the almost 2 million Afghan-Uzbeks who live in these provinces. The IMU reportedly collected taxes on farmers in Kunduz province as a minor source of revenue, and had even installed an IMU affiliated “shadow governor” by the name of Attallah who was removed from power in 2010.[vi] According to reporting by Bethany Matta of Al-Jazeera, the escalation of IMU violence and public support for the group came as a surprise to local governance and coalition forces that recalled the period of peace that followed the removal of the Taliban from the area in 2002. Capitalizing on apparent popular dissatisfaction with the prefects who replaced Taliban governors and common ethno-linguistic ties with the locals, the IMU has been linked to guerilla-style attacks and suicide bombings targeted at senior Afghan officials.[vii]

While very little is known about the current leader of the IMU emir Usman Ghazi and his cadres, the current record of the IMU is not entirely opaque.[viii] A well-researched 2010 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) offers a middle-of-the-road interpretation of the limited open-source materials available on the group, ultimately concluding that the threat of Uzbek terrorism has not abated. Operating throughout Northern and Eastern Afghanistan and Northern Waziristan, Pakistan, the CSIS report estimates the fighting strength of the IMU in these areas somewhere between 1,000-5,000 troops.[ix] These fighters are financed primarily by the Afghan Taliban, who provides the IMU with approximately $2,440,000- $4,878,000 USD per year.[x] Content analysis of the IMU’s webpage “Furqon” has recorded expanding lists of martyrs, regular reporting on activities, and A/V propaganda materials that suggest that the IMU possesses a relatively sophisticated and well-resourced public relations wing.[xi]

Given the impending withdrawal of US forces from the region, the information cited above is rendered all the more disconcerting, as their departure will undoubtedly reshape the strategic terrain of South and Central Asia, with critical implications for all countries therein. [xii] Whether the IMU will choose to exploit their position in Northern and Eastern Afghanistan is at this moment is an open question that hinges upon a dearth of information regarding the IMU’s intentions. Following a suicide operation in the province of Panjshir on June 3rd 2013, the IMU released the following statement: “we hope from Allah that future conquests are very near in the Mawarounnahr region [the ancient name for modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan]” [xiii] Evidently, the IMU has not forgotten its Central Asian roots during its decade in exile. Nevertheless, whether this ominous threat is predicated upon a concrete strategy to realize these “conquests” is at this time unknowable. This limitation precludes any firm predictions on if and when an IMU campaign can be expected in Uzbekistan, but it does not prevent one from asking whether Uzbekistan would be vulnerable to such a campaign.

Drawing insights from social network theories of elite politics and civil society, this paper argues that the very policies designed by Uzbek President Islam Karimov to subjugate Uzbek civil society and restrict foreign influence have actually strengthened the position of the IMU as a military and political threat to the regime. As the IMU continues to collect wealth and power from Taliban sponsorship and other avenues of foreign support, the IMU can work with Uzbek elites and other underground civil associations to rally popular support, and ultimately set the stage for terrorism, popular unrest, and even insurgency. Uzbek politicians may have been crying wolf just to attract foreign support, but let us not forget how that fable ends.

Terrorists and Constituents: Civil Society and Violent Entrepreneurs

Social network theories of terrorism often share common assumptions regarding the bounded rationality of terrorists operating within particular social contexts. Under this line of reasoning terrorists are not exceptional actors whose motivations are too particular or idiosyncratic to explain but are, in the words of Sherzod Abdukadirov “social entrepreneurs”. Andukadirov asserts that terrorist actors are much like non-profit organizations in that they can provide societies with alternative access to public goods that other actors, primarily the state, have failed to adequately provision. Public goods, unlike private goods, are often intangible and conceptual in nature, and carry a normative subtext. “Security”, “defense”, and “justice” are critical examples of public goods that terrorist groups, by virtue of their capacity and willingness to use force, are sometimes able to provide. Because these groups are nominally driven by an innate desire to provide these goods and gain public trust, terrorist organizations are understood to be “altruistic” and therefore willing to incur material costs in order to supply these goods.[xiv]

For heuristic purposes, models that follow these basic assumptions provide students and practitioners with a basic appreciation for what motivates terrorists to act, adapt, and change by providing a general raison d’etre for political violence. Applied to empirical cases, these models sometimes fail to fully account for behaviors observed of terrorist actors. The issue with these theoretic models is that they often take the social interaction of terrorists with other actors as given, when there are many kinds of barriers to entry that prevent these groups from provisioning goods. These barriers may be legal, such as sanctions that proscribe the transference of funds to state-designated organizations, cultural, as in endogenous ethno-nationalist networks, or resultant from a contest of arms between other competitors. When studying how terrorists aggregate power through social entrepreneurship, it is therefore imperative to examine how these actors gain access to the persons, services, and resources they need to fulfill their aims.[xv] In the case of the IMU, it is therefore necessary to examine the barriers to networking erected by the government of Uzbekistan before their prospects for influence can be accurately depicted.

Neopatrimonial Uzbekistan: Elite Politics and Stability

Uzbekistan’s continued stability continues to baffle many scholars, especially those who engage in large-N multivariate analysis. Contrasting the cases of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the mid 1990’s, Idil Tunçer-Kilavuz observes that commonly used correlates of civil war relating to population density, ethnic composition, and geographic terrain, appeared in higher proportions in Uzbekistan than in Tajikistan, yet Uzbekistan remained stable while Tajikistan dissolved into conflict. Tuncer-Kilavuz does not dismiss the value of the correlates outright, arguing that these correlates must be translated in case-specific contexts that take into account the perceptions of salient political actors, namely the elite. The conclusion reached by Tuncer-Kilavuz is akin to the balance of power concept argued by defensive realists within the discipline of international relations; where opposing actors are relatively equal in power, conflict is deterred.[xvi]  Unlike Tajikistan, Uzbekistan achieved a relative level of power parity and mutual interest through an intricate web of patron-client relations stemming from the office of the president best described as “neopatrimonial”.

Two systemic pillars, as defined by Alisher Ilkhamov, hold up neopatrimonial regimes; a system for the seizure and control of power, and a system for the rational government provisioning of goods and services. In the particular case of Uzbekistan, neopatrimonialism functions to privilege President Karimov’s family and an inner circle of oligarchs without regard for the rule of law, and uses arbitrary arrests as well as the use of military force to eliminate political entrepreneurs and dissidents that threaten his interests. After the horrors that befell Andijan in 2005, some ethnographers were quick to point out that the government’s response was not just a reaction to neighboring Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution, but a reflection of an internal power struggle between the Samarkand Clan (Karimov’s clan) and the Tashkent Clan. While this may be true is a broad sense, the use of the term “clan conflict” belies the underlying causes of the massacre.[xvii]

Clans are too often used as shorthand terminology for primordial (i.e. blood-based) kinship networks that link families and individuals across the bounds of class. In practice, however, clans function as complex webs of patronage that often enrich key players within the network that rises to prominence. A clan, therefore, derives power and influence not from its parochial claims to a particular land or lineage, but from its ability to satisfy the needs and wants of important constituents.[xviii] Understood as an extreme variant of interest-politics, Karimov’s neopatrimonial regime is not unlike the power mechanisms used by criminal networks like the 19th century Italian Cosa Nostra or the Afghan Taliban’s Haqqani Network. As one reporter recently observed, Karimov appears to have transcended the old clan rivalries that characterized Uzbekistan in years past, and solidified political economic power within his family and a small circle of clients. With the “Karimov Clan” solidifying power within the state to a narrower constituency, the President enhances his executive authority, but at the price of alienating former clients. Stated in other terms, Karimov’s personal power may be greater than ever, but his enemies grow more numerous.[xix]

The past 13 years have witnessed an unmistakable backlash against prominent businessmen and regional politicians executed primarily under the guise of just criminal prosecution. During this time, at least four provincial governors, Jora Noraliyev, the governor of Surkhandarya, Alisher Otaboyev, governor of Fergana, Saydullo Begaliev, governor of Andijan, and Ziyovuddin Niyozov, governor of Tashkent have been arrested under charges of official corruption and incompetence, and were stripped of their posts.[xx] Prominent businessmen, including retail wholesalers, energy tycoons, and football club owners have also been targeted for alleged illicit financial activity including embezzlement and money laundering. Ostensibly conducted to cleanse the country of oligarchs, these arrests were widely interpreted as means for Karimov to redistribute the equities and assets of the condemned to loyal constituents and pad the contents of his own wallet.[xxi]

The sense of insecurity and disaffection inculcated within a growing segment of the Uzbek elite will be further compounded by the questions of succession that surround an aged an ailing Karimov.[xxii] It has been speculated that Karimov’s eldest daughter Gulnara Karimov is being groomed to take her father’s place. Gulnara has held a number of diplomatic positions, and has engaged in philanthropic activities abroad, thus augmenting her political bonafides. That said, Gulnara is widely viewed to lack the political acumen of her father, and is dogged by numerous financial scandals.[xxiii] More likely, it seems that Karimov will be succeeded by either Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev or Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Rustam Azimov, both men within Karimov’s inner circle.[xxiv] Regardless of who succeeds Karimov, the patronage network created by the current president will remain more or less intact after his passing, to the chagrin of elites who find themselves excluded from its streams of power and lucre. Under these conditions, some members of the Uzbek elite would be motivated to find other means of securing their power, perhaps turning to the public to draw strength from the position of a populist politician. In Uzbekistan, however, the lack of independent civil society does much to prevent these ambitions from becoming realized.

Civil Society in Uzbekistan: Licit and Illicit Formations

In a democratic society, civil society in its political integration often works to the advantage of the disenfranchised and disadvantaged, who find new opportunities within communal structures to assert their political interests. These voluntary associations span across all strata of society to mobilize individuals, communities, enterprises, and political parties to affect some desired change through myriad forms of action.[xxv] Those who have fallen from Karimov’s good graces might under different circumstances turn to civil society as a platform upon which they can reengage with political society; but this is not the case in Uzbekistan.

Officially, no independent civil society exists in Uzbekistan, because civic associations of any kind must be registered with the Ministry of Justice in a process that subjects the NGO to a lengthy process of multi-agency review.[xxvi] Under this arrangement, Uzbek civil society is given access to public funds in order to pursue their government approved programs, but the ability of these organizations to affect real changes in political circumstance is effectively nil due to the legal constraints and administrative impediments imposed upon them. The legal foundation of this policy can be traced back to the 1998 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations and the 1999 Law on NGOs. Passed under the pretense of protecting religious liberty and tolerance within a secular Uzbek society, articles of the law proscribed the public adornment of religious garb by non-clergymen, proselytism, and the production, storage, and distribution of materials that contained extremist or separatist ideas. Further, the law declared that organizations that failed to register with the government were unrecognized, and subject to prosecution. Under pursuant legislation during the early 2000’s and in reaction to the civil disturbances stirred in the wake of the first IMU campaign, Uzbekistan began to crack down on unregistered NGO’s and used the selective enforcement convoluted tax laws to silence journalists and dissidents who sought to report these actions.[xxvii]

From 2002 onward, the state continued to reign in the independence of Uzbek civil society. Groups promoting human rights and transparent governance such as the Open Society Institute were among the first to be denied the proper licenses to operate legally due to their promotion of materials deemed anti-Uzbek by the ministries. By way of numerous executive decrees, segments of Uzbek civil society were forced to re-register with the Ministry of Justice, thus providing the state with the opportunity to deny licenses to those organizations deemed troubling. The 2004 decree “On measures on increasing efficiency of the accountability pertaining to financial means, grants and humanitarian aid received from international and foreign governmental and nongovernmental organizations” required that all NGO’s store and transfer all assets through the Central Bank of Uzbekistan or Askana Bank, subjecting the finances of these organizations to constant surveillance, threat of seizure, and limited opportunities for investment and distribution.[xxviii]

In effect, the Karimov regime has created a system of civil society wherein foreign donations from international aid organizations destined for Uzbek NGO’s flow directly into state coffers, and are distributed at the discretion of bureaucratic elites overseeing the management of these funds. The centralization of these aspects of civil society, apart from defrauding international donors, has also encouraged the local extortion of small to medium sized indigenous enterprises that face bureaucratic and legal harassment if they do not “donate” to select organizations. In light of this toxic culture of official control and corruption, Uzbeks are highly disillusioned by the current state of civil society, and are by in large discouraged from participating. Considering that the watchdog group Transparency International rated Uzbekistan the 7th most corrupt state in the world, this cynicism can hardly be blamed.[xxix]

Lacking basic freedoms of speech and organization, those not discouraged by the injustice and excess of Uzbek regulations have taken to the creation of underground organizations that operate outside all legal remits. Undoubtedly, the underground association that has garnered the most attention from Western scholars is the London-based international NGO, Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), a Salafist Islamist group that advocates on behalf of creating a global Sunni caliphate. Ideologically, HT espouses a literalist and extreme version of Sunni Islam that categorizes Shia, Jewish, Christian, Western, and secular individuals and institutions as evil. Like al-Qaeda and the IMU, HT desires to realize a world governed under their originalist interpretation of Sharia, but nominally rejects violence as a means of achieving this desire. Instead, HT has organized itself into a hierarchical collection of semi-autonomous cells operating in over 45 countries to distribute propaganda interpreting religion, governance, international affairs, and local conflicts through the prism of their ideology.[xxx]

HT is banned in Uzbekistan, as well as in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan for espousing an extremist, separatist ideology despite their conveyed commitment to non-violence, but this has not prevented HT from maintaining a presence in the region.  Imprecise estimates owed to the organization’s criminal status number HT’s membership at 7,000 to 60,000 people in Uzbekistan, with somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 members living in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Beyond merely disseminating leaflets and A/V materials, HT cells have been reported to fulfill needs left unmet by local governments. HT members are noted to contribute to local charities, and donate basic goods to needy families in rural areas of Uzbekistan such as Ferghana. Politically, HT has organized protests and authored policy proposals that decry the economic inequalities and official corruption of the Central Asian republics, and offer religious rule as a solution to this common blight. Additionally, HT is perhaps the greatest patron of local religious communities across Central Asia, whose secular regimes proscribe unregulated religious education and association.[xxxi]

Non-religious groups that represent liberal democratic platforms such as Birlik and Erk parties, and single-issue groups like the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan and the Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan have also maintained a significant presence in the country, albeit to an extent less publicized than that of HT.[xxxii] Even so, against the forces of state repression and the ethos of national ideology, the impact of HT and other anti-Karimov groups within Uzbekistan has been marginal. Though these groups continue to survive, an impressive feat under such hostile conditions, coherent and unified action against the regime has never emerged. Omitting the sensational IMU bombings in Tashkent 1999 and the 2005 Andjian incident, expressions of public outcry have been confined to sporadic protests mounted by dozens of individuals from diverse backgrounds that ultimately fail to coalesce into national movements. Even when thousands of protestors convene to protest public policy as they did in Andijan, the impulse to action did not spread to other regions, and Karimov reacted with unbridled savagery.[xxxiii]

Uzbek Foreign Policy and Foreign Actors

As the circle of Karimov’s neopatrimonial clientele continues to shrink, those on the fringes of the regime and those left behind are rendered increasingly disempowered and displeased due to the lack of access to basic resources and legal recourse. Keeping the greater part of society disempowered by limiting basic freedoms and public patronage is a critical component of Karimov’s strategy of self-preservation, but this strategy is not without its vulnerabilities. Resting on the assumption that the regime can maintain direct control over the population by coercing dependence upon, and therefore compliance with the regime, Karimov must also ensure that foreign actors do not intervene in Uzbekistan’s internal affairs. Towards this end, Karimov has gone to great lengths.

Reclusive, but not isolationist, Uzbekistan’s foreign policy has shifted away from affirming regional commitments to security in favor of dealing with international great powers on bi-lateral terms. In 2012, Uzbekistan withdrew its membership from Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russia’s flagship multilateral military alliance in Eurasia. Having withdrawn once before from CSTO in 1999, Uzbekistan has always been a reticent member of CSTO and has never participated in joint military exercises orchestrated by the organization. Apparently unimpressed by such exercises, which are commonly regarded as merely symbolic, and chaffed by Russia’s predominance in the forum, Karimov expressed firm convictions when he announced that CSTO did not and could not address Uzbek interests.[xxxiv] Armed with the largest, best equipped, and overall most formidable military force in Central Asia proper, Uzbekistan certainly did not rely on CSTO to guarantee its security.

Rather than turning to NATO or redoubling its commitment to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Uzbekistan has instead cooperated with Russia on terms laid out by the 2004 Treaty on Russian-Uzbekistan Strategic Partnership (RFUSP) and 2005 Treaty on Alliance Relationships with Russia. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has not yet commented upon the status of the 2002 U.S.-Uzbekistan Strategic Partnership Treaty, keeping American diplomats in Tashkent on edge. US investments in Uzbekistan including the infrastructure supporting the NDN and the launch of the US New Silk Road Strategy further add to the anxiety felt by Washington during this period of diplomatic uncertainty. At present, Tashkent plays a delicate game of balancing its agreements with Washington and Moscow, though it would appear that Karimov might prefer to work with Russian patrons.[xxxv]

Russia aside, Uzbekistan has been loath to cooperate with other actors in the region, viewing its neighbors as security liabilities rather than potential allies. Between 1998 to the present, Uzbekistan has regarded Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with deep suspicion and open hostility. At the height of the IMU’s first campaign, Uzbekistan repeatedly accused Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan of providing the group safe havens, and engaged in airstrikes in both states under the pretext of targeting the IMU. Uzbekistan also unilaterally strengthened its borders to impede IMU transit by erecting walls, laying mines, and digging trenches at critical transit points into Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.[xxxvi]

Despite the large ethnic Uzbek populations that reside in the border areas of these countries, Karimov, for all of his pan-Uzbek rhetoric, has never called for the repatriation of these populations because he regards them with great suspicion. The Uzbek intelligence service has been known to surveil these foreign Uzbeks, and even resort to extraordinary rendition to capture persons of interest in clear violation of the international norms of sovereignty and extradition. Polling conducting by Matteo Fumagalli of Uzbek diaspora populations in these areas revealed that, unsurprisingly, these populations have highly negative views of Karimov and his policies aimed at their communities. Although a majority of respondents felt a strong sense of connection to Uzbeks living in Uzbekistan proper, it should be noted that only a minority voiced any desire to live in Uzbekistan, citing the repression therein as a deterrent.[xxxvii]

Conclusion: An Argument Not To Be Discounted

Should it choose to do so, the IMU can serve as a critically destabilizing external force in Uzbekistan by channeling the ire of elite and associational victims of the regime to form an alternative patrimonial network opposed to Karimov’s. As Martha Brill Olcott, a venerable Western scholar of Central Asia concludes in her most recent work In the Whirlwind of Jihad, most Uzbeks are content with the state sponsored version of Hanafi Islam, and are unlikely to embrace Salafist groups. Gaining social and spiritual satisfaction from the daily ritual of the mahala,[xxxviii] Hanafi Uzbeks are thus not inclined to view Salafist beliefs and practices with much more than curiosity.[xxxix] It is true that the practicing Hanafi Uzbeks and secular Uzbeks share little in kind with their literalist and puritanical countrymen, save for one key sentiment: disdain for Karimov. In the study of sub-state violence, one should never forget the perennial maxim of political science: “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

If the IMU is willing to shelve its more global jihadist aspirations, increase the volume of its anti-Karimov rhetoric, and seize opportunities in Uzbekistan, the group can build a strong coalition through various means. While the specifics of the IMU’s ideology may be off-putting to some potential allies, the unique capabilities of the organization could easily overshadow ideational differences. Most obviously, the IMU represents the single most coherent sub-state threat to Uzbekistan’s monopoly on force, and can offer elites the “muscle” they need to ensure the security of their polities. Without question, IMU fighters are no match for Uzbekistan’s conventional forces in the context of an open confrontation, but that is not where these forces excel. Trained by veteran Taliban commanders and tested by years of conflict with ISAF, IMU guerillas are not rank amateurs. So long as they do not succumb to the temptation to hold fixed positions within Uzbekistan as they did in their ill-fated 1999-2001 campaign, IMU guerillas and terrorist cells could wreak havoc in border municipalities and harry frustrated military detachments. These operations would not topple the regime overnight, but if well executed, they would at the every least expose chinks in Karimov’s authoritarian armor by striking against symbols of his authority and evading his forces.[xl]

Politically, the IMU could also prove useful to ambitious Uzbek elites by virtue of the socio-political networks they maintain. First and foremost, the close relationship between the Taliban and the IMU could serve as an indispensable boon to would-be revolutionaries. In the wake of the US withdrawal, the Taliban may find itself in control of the assets of the Afghan state, and be willing to use these assets to assist their brothers in arms and replace Karimov with a ruler more amenable to Afghan interests. IMU connections to HT would also be valuable as a mechanism to garner support from clandestine chapters within Uzbekistan and more open diaspora populations outside the country. Beyond providing revolutionaries with a pool of supporters from which finances and recruits may be collected, attracting a strong coalition of Uzbek civilians would serve to imbue the movement with a popular legitimacy it would otherwise lack.

Bound by a common hatred of the ruling government, it is not unthinkable that secular liberals, ethno-nationalists, and religious extremists would rally behind the same banner; it has happened before. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran was a secular autocrat propped up by foreign influence and ousted by an idealistic coalition of young middle to lower class citizens who did not subscribe to a single, unified ideology the outset of the revolution. Some Iranians lined up behind the revived National Front of Karim Sanjabi and Daryush Forouhar who drew upon the democratic legacy of former President Mohammed Mosaddeq. Others followed a robust array of socialist and Marxist ideologies and joined the exiled Tudeh Pary as well as the leftist guerilla groups Rah-e Kargar and Peykar. Syncretism also occurred between movements, as exemplified by leaders such as Mojahedin-e Khalq whose followers were known as Islamic Marxists. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, however, emerged from this confused collective of revolutionaries as the chief arbiter of the revolution due to his charismatic prowess as a leader and his uncomplicated yet appealing design for the new Iranian state. International incidents, most notably the 1979 US embassy hostage situation, only enhanced Khomeini’s profile, as he retrofitted the administrative machinery with the vanguard of the revolutionary leadership and installed the governing ulama to watch over them. By 1981, Khomeini had consolidated his authority to the point that his former leftist allies became fodder for the Revolutionary Guard.[xli]

The Iranian Revolution cannot provide observers with an accurate blueprint of how regime change will occur in Uzbekistan, if it does indeed occur at all. What this historical precedent demonstrates is how factions of disparate ideological persuasions can overcome deeply held convictions in the name of common interests under hostile conditions. If the IMU can channel popular unrest and elite disposition through political networks that secure ideational and material support, the IMU can seize this moment in history to damage a regime that has long overstayed its welcome. Whether the IMU will in reality accomplish such a feat is a rightly contentious issue. Nevertheless, the ascension of the IMU into a position of regional power in years following 2014 cannot be written off as alarmist fantasy, as to do so would be to ignore the structural vulnerabilities of Uzbekistan today.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the National War College or any agency of the U.S. government.

End Notes

[i] Yadgor Norbutayev, “Islam Karimov and the Goldfish,” Ferghana News, 3/18/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Andrew E. Kramer, “As NATO Prepares for Afghan Withdrawal, Uzbekistan Seeks War’s Leftovers,” The New York Times, 1/31/2013, Accessed 4/4/2013:

Sonia Rothwell, “NATO, Uzbekistan and the ISAF Withdrawal,” ISN, 3/12/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[iv] Most notably the Islamic Jihad Union

[v] See Shakar Saadi, “IMU on verge of fading from existence: The group is becoming desperate, suffers leadership problems and may not make it through the winter, analysts say.,” Central Asia Online, 10/19/2012, Accessed 5/4/2013:

Joshua Foust, “Are Terror Groups Faked? Does the IJU Even Exist?,” Registan, 6/20/2009, Accessed 5/4/2013…

[vi]Bill Roggio, “IMU-linked Taliban district commander killed in Takhar raid,” The Long War Journal, 9/5/2010: Accessed 5/4/2013:

– “Iran-backed senior IMU commander captured in Afghan north,” The Long War Journal, 9/15/2010, Accessed 5/4/2013:

Patrick Megahan, “Increased targeting of IMU continues in Afghan north,” The Long War Journal, 4/5/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:…

[vii]Bethany Matta, “Uzbek fighters gain support in Afghan north: An al-Qaeda-linked group is increasing its appeal among youth in Takhar, where government dissatisfaction runs high.,” Al-Jazeera, 4/10/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[viii] Shakar Saadi, “New IMU leader has criminal record. IMU loses accomplices, recruits terrorists on the side,” Central Asia Online, 8/14/2012, Accessed 5/4/2013:…

[ix] Thomas M. Sanderson, Daniel Kimmage, and David A. Gordon 2010, “From Ferghana Valley to South Waziristan,” CSIS, 17-18

[x] Syed Shoaib Hasan, “The Militant Economy,” The News, 02/18/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

(Accessed through:

Adam Pankowski, “The Taliban’s Assets in the United Arab Emirates,” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism

[xi] Matthew Stein 2013, “The Goals of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Its Impact on Central Asia and the United States,” Foreign Military Studies Office

Martha Brill Olcott, In the Whirlwind of Jihad, (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012), 297-299

[xii] Barack Hussein Obama, “State of the Union,” C-Span, 2/12/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:…

[xiii] Jacob Zenn, “ Central Asian Leaders Wary of Post-2014 IMU Threat,” The Jamestown Foundation, 7/12/2013, Accessed 7/15/2013:

[xiv] Abdukadirov, Sherzod 2010, “Terrorism: The Dark Side of Social Entrepreneurship,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 33, no. 7, 603-617

Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 35-38

Jessica Stern and Amit Modi “Producing Terror: Organizational Dynamics of Survival”, Countering the Financing of Terrorism, eds. Thomas J. Biersteker and Sue E. Eckert, (New York: Routledge, 2008), 30-36

[xv] Timothy Wittig, Understanding Terrorist Finance, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan 2011), 112-117

Jessica Stern and Amit Modi “Producing Terror: Organizational Dynamics of Survival,” Countering the Financing of Terrorism, eds. Thomas J. Biersteker and Sue E. Eckert, (New York: Routledge, 2008), 36-40

[xvi] Idil Tunçer-Kilavuz, “Understanding Civil War: A Comparison of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan”, Europe-Asia Studies 63, no. 2, (2011),263-290

[xvii] Alisher Ilkhamov, “Neopatrimonialism, interest groups and patronage networks: the impasses of the governance system in Uzbekistan,” Central Asian Survey 26, no. 1, (2007) 65-84

[xviii] İdil Tunçer-Kılavuz, “Political and social networks in Tajikistan and

Uzbekistan: clan, region and beyond,” Central Asian Survey 28, no. 3, (2009) 323-334

[xix] Alisher Ilkhamov (2007), 65-84

Staff, “Uzbekistan: Karimov Appears To Have Political Clans Firmly In Hand,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 5/9/2013, Accessed 5/4/203:

[xx] Eric M. McGlinchey, “Searching for Kamalot: Political Patronage and

Youth Politics in Uzbekistan,” Europe-Asia Studies 61, no. 7, (2009) 1137-1150

Adolat Najimova and Daniel Kimmage, “Uzbekistan: Karimov Reappraises Andijon,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 10/19/2006, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[xxi]Bruce Pannier, “Big Business In Uzbekistan Targeted In Wave Of Arrests,” Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 3/12/2010, Accessed 5/4/2013

Staff, “Uzbek Bankers Arrested Over Foreign Currency Deals,” RIANOVOSTI, 7/2/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[xxii] Staff, “Uzbek opposition leader insists President Karimov suffered heart failure,” Fergana News, 3/23/13, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[xxiii] American Embassy Tashkent, “Uzbekistan: Rumors of Succession Planning, Government,” Wikileaks, 7/31/2009, Accessed 5/4/2013:

Farruh Yusupov and Daisy Sindelar, “Swedish TV: How Millions In Telecoms Bribes End Up In Karimova’s Pocket,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 12/12/2012, Accessed 5/4/2013:

Traveller, “Gulnara Karimova: Is She Ready to be the Next President of Uzbekistan?,” Registan, 4/8/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:…

[xxiv]Farruh Yusupov and Daisy Sindelar, “Karimov Absence Fuels Rumors Of What Comes Next In Uzbekistan,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 3/27/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:…

[xxv] Iris Marion Young, Inclusion and Democracy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 64-167

[xxvi] For foreign-based NGO’s the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also included in the registration process.

[xxvii] Matthew Crosston, Fostering Fundamentalism: Terrorism, Democracy, and American Engagement in Central Asia, (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2006), 122-124

Alisher Ilkhamov 2005, “The thorny path of civil society in Uzbekistan,” Central Asian Survey, 297-302

[xxviii] Ibid.

Sally N. Cummings, Understanding Central Asia: Politics and Contested Transformations, (New York: Routledge, 2012), 70-73

[xxix] Alisher Ilkhamov (2005), 302-305

Charles Buxton, The Struggle for Civil Society in Central Asia, (Sterling: Kumarian Press, 2011), 34-38

Transparency International, Uzbekistan, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[xxx] Mahesh Ranjan Debata, “Hizb ut-Tahrir: The Destabilizing Force in Central Asia,” Religion and Security in South and Central Asia, ed. K. Warikoo, (New York: Routledge, 2011), 125-128

[xxxi] Ibid. 132-138

Murat Lamulin, “Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia,” Religion and Security in South and Central Asia, ed. K. Warikoo, (Routledge: New York 2011), 140-144

[xxxii] Daniel Stevens, “Political society and civil society in Uzbekistan—never the twain shall meet?,” Central Asian Survey 26, no. 1, (2007), 53-54

[xxxiii] Eric McGlinchey, “Central Asian Protest Movements: Social Forces or State Resources?,” The Politics of Transition in Central Asian and the Caucuses: Enduring Legacies and Emerging Challenges, eds. Amanda E. Wooden and Christoph H. Stefes, (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), 128-130

[xxxiv] Staff, “Interview: Analyst Says Uzbekistan’s Suspension Shows CSTO Is ‘Irrelevant’,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 6/29/2012, Accessed 5/4/2013:

Farkhod Tolipov, “Will The U.S. And Uzbekistan Revisit Their Strategic Partnership,” The Central Asia-Caucuses Analyst, 3/20/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[xxxv] Farkhod Tolipov, “Will The U.S. And Uzbekistan Revisit Their Strategic Partnership,” The Central Asia-Caucuses Analyst, 3/20/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

Joshua Kucera, “Capitol Hill Coddles Uzbekistan’s Karimov,” Inter Press Service, 3/4/2013, Accessed 5/4/2013:

[xxxvi] Mariya Y. Omelicheva Counterterrorism Policies in Central Asia, (New York and London: Routledge, 2011), 56-57

Matthew Stein, “Uzbekistan’s View of Security in Afghanistan After 2014,” Military Review (May-June 2012)

[xxxvii] Matteo Fumagalli, “Ethnicity, state formation and foreign policy: Uzbekistan and Uzbeks abroad,” Central Asian Survey 26, no.1, (2007) 105-122

[xxxviii] *The local Uzbek religious community.

[xxxix] Olcott (2012), 300-306

[xl] Rob Johnson, Oil, Islam and Conflict: Central Asia Since 1954, (London: Reaktion Books, 2007), 129-137

Idean Salehyan, Rebels Without Borders: Transantional Insurgencies in World Politics, (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2009), 46-55

David Witter, “Uzbek Militancy In Pakistan’s Tribal Region”, Institute for the Study of War (2011)

[xli] Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr, Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 79-98

Luke Lischin is an Academic Assistant at the National War College. Previously, he worked as an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization. His research on Qatar was published in a book chapter coauthored with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in a volume entitled Allies, Adversaries & Enemies: America’s Increasingly Complex Alliances. Mr. Lischin’s essay on terrorism in the United States entitled Assessing “The Terrorist Threat: The Primacy of Domestic Terrorism” was published in the 2012-2013 volume of The Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis at Syracuse University. In 2014, he received his MA at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program, where he concentrated in the study of terrorism and substate violence.


The Political Crisis in Afghanistan and its Implications for Russia
Ekaterina Stepanova, Dr. of Politics, Head of the Group on Peace and Conflict Studies, IMEMO RAS
RIAC | 28 july 2014

The United States and NATO are withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan, leaving the country in a difficult, albeit not entirely hopeless situation.

On the one hand, the armed conflict in the country rages on. Although its nature is changing, increasingly assuming the form of a confrontation between the insurgents and the Afghan armed forces and security structures, which are suffering record losses. The number of armed attacks and incidents grew by 15–20 per cent in 2013 alone. On the whole, the fighting today is substantially more intensive than it was before the Western intervention. Indeed, in the decade following 2001, Afghanistan joined Iraq and Pakistan as the three countries with the highest level of terrorist activity. According to the Global Terrorism Database, in 2012 these three countries accounted for more than half of all the terrorist attacks in the world and 58 per cent of all people killed in terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, in spite of all the alarmist scenarios that are common in Afghanistan, as well as inside and outside the region, a radical change of the balance of forces or overwhelming military superiority of one of the parties to the conflict after 2014 so far look unlikely, as does any real progress towards a peaceful settlement. Most probably the Taliban would only be willing to enter into serious internal peace negotiations after they “test the strength” of the Afghan army and government following the withdrawal of the bulk of Western forces. Thus, Afghanistan will likely experience a period of increased instability as the conflicting parties size up each other’s armed strength in the new situation. The central government and the national security structures will remain active, albeit on a limited scale. Hopefully, this will happen not only thanks to international support and the remaining Western military presence, but also due to the greater legitimacy of the new administration (compared with that of Hamid Karzai) as a result of the elections and further state building.

Until July 2014, this hope was fuelled by the successful experience of the presidential elections in Afghanistan (to the extent that they can be successful in Afghan conditions), which were held in spite of heightened internal conflict, the withdrawal of foreign troops and the schism that had formed between political elites. The first round on 5 April did not deliver an outright victory to any of the 12 candidates, but Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan and at one time a prominent leader of the Northern Alliance, was leading with 45 per cent of the votes. His main rival, the former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a Pashtun, won 31 per cent of the votes (the Pashtun Zalmai Rassoul, who finished third with 11 per cent of the votes, eventually backed Abdullah Abdullah). However, the guarded optimism generated by the first round of elections proved to be short-lived and was erased by the events that unfolded after the second round on 14 June 2014.

The Crisis surrounding the Elections and Attempts to Settle it

The announcement of the preliminary results of the second round on 7 July 2014, which was won by Ashraf Ghani (who received 56.4 per cent of the votes, as opposed to first round favourite Abdullah Abdullah’s 43.6 per cent), dramatically exacerbated the situation in the country and triggered a full-scale political crisis. Both candidates immediately claimed victory. Abdullah Abdullah’s supporters took to the streets, and he himself made claims of massive vote rigging and ballot box stuffing (by as many as two million votes). Abdullah Abdullah recalled his observers from the electoral commissions and announced that he would form a parallel government.

On the one hand, large-scale vote rigging in this, like in any other election in Afghanistan (for example, in the previous presidential elections of 2009, when Abdullah Abdullah ran against the incumbent President Hamid Karzai), is more than likely, as it is the norm rather than an exception. It is even more probable in this case because the turnout announced by the election commission for the second round (8.1 million) was a dramatic increase from the first round (by more than a million). In some provinces – in Maidan Wardak, for example – the number of votes cast for Ashraf Ghani increased tenfold, and the turnout in rural areas was higher than in urban districts. The situation defies common sense and contradicts the numerous reports of a generally lower turnout than in the first round. Yet it hardly surprised anyone. The reason is that the incumbent president Hamid Karzai had committed his political and administrative resources largely (and in the second round entirely) to supporting the Pashtun candidate Ashraf Ghani.

On the other hand, all the main candidates in Afghanistan are guilty of serious violations and electoral fraud. We cannot rule out the possibility that Ashraf Ghani may have actually won the second round, even without all the ballot stuffing and in spite of his excessively pro-Western stance (even by Hamid Karzai’s standards) and his “track record”. In addition to the political support provided by Hamid Karzai (and tacit preference on the part of the United States), the fact that Ashraf Ghani appealed to the Pashtun majority may have played a part, as could his choice of Abdul-Rashid Dostum, the head of the Uzbek community and prominent leader of the former Northern Alliance – and one of the most opportunistic Afghan politicians – as his running mate.

Be that as it may, after the announcement of the disputed preliminary results of the second round, the split within the Afghan elites increased. Legitimate change of power in Afghanistan by relatively democratic means (i.e. in accordance with the universally recognized outcome of a general election) was brought to the brink of collapse. This happened against the backdrop of the government losing its (already tenuous) grip over certain regions, especially in remote rural communities, as well as active Taliban-led insurgency and the withdrawal of international NATO and U.S. forces. On the whole, the threat of failed national presidential elections and aggravated ethnic and territorial divisions may pose a more serious challenge to the future of Afghanistan than armed activities on the part of the Taliban.

The U.S. administration is keenly aware that bringing the political crisis in Afghanistan back into the constitutional realm is critically important. The Americans would like to be able to justify their withdrawal in the absence of a stable peace and security at least by way of a relatively effective political process. No wonder the United States, on the one hand, promptly admitted that there may have been serious irregularities in the second round and in vote counting, and on the other, threatened to cut off aid to Afghanistan if any unconstitutional bodies of power were formed. On 12 July 2014, the diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State Kerry and U.S. pressure on both sides brought about a temporary compromise, with the sides agreeing to a full centralized recount of the votes to be monitored by the United Nations and international observers, including the transfer of all the ballots to Kabul under the guard of the NATO and Afghan militaries.

Considering the gravity of the crisis and the United States’ weakened position in terms of the leverage it has over, and the pressure it can exert on, the country following President Obama’s announcement in May about the timeframe for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, it is not surprising that Jan Kubis, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, described the fragile compromise as a “miracle”. It is noteworthy, however, that the efforts to reach a compromise at this early stage were not confined to a feverish attempt to gain time, keeping the crisis at bay for at least the three weeks or more that it would take to recount the votes (naturally, the announcement of the final results and the inauguration of the new president would have to be postponed too). At a joint press conference with John Kerry at the UN office in Kabul, both candidates agreed to recognize the results of the vote recount and reaffirmed their pledge to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States. The agreement sets the terms of the continued presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2014 and pave the way for the signing of an agreement on the status of the remaining NATO contingent. The two rivals publicly declared that whoever is declared victorious, they would be ready to form a coalition government of national unity including representatives of the losing side. The agreement stipulates that the new president will appoint the head of the executive branch – the runner-up in the presidential election.

Of course, there are many obstacles in the way of implementing the agreement (the vote recount was “suspended” due to a “misunderstanding” between the parties barely a week after the compromise was achieved). But in any eventuality (including the collapse of the 12 July 2014 agreement, with Hamid Karzai assuming special powers pending a new election or for an indefinite period, etc.) the only credible way out of the crisis is through the creation of formal or informal agreements on power sharing between the main political forces in the country as part of a coalition government, reform and modernization of the political and electoral system and institutions. This is particularly important in light of the parliamentary elections due to take place in 2015, after the main foreign forces are already out of the country – that is, probably in a still more complicated situation. It is particularly important to prevent any group, political force or community from gaining dominance because of the highly centralized form of government (which is very ineffectual for many reasons, but partly because it is overly centralized).

Russia’s Interests and Position

Before discussing what the current political crisis in Afghanistan means for Russia, it is worth recalling why Russia is worried about developments in Afghanistan in principle.

Moscow’s main concern is security. In particular, she is worried about two threats emanating from Afghanistan: the cross-border spread of instability, violence and extremism and the flow of Afghan narcotics into Russian territory. It has to be stressed that as the presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is drawing to a close in its present form, both these threats have increased to varying degrees and continue to grow.

While the spillover of instability and violence from Afghanistan directly threatens Central Asian countries most of all, including Russia’s CSTO allies, the production and trafficking of Afghan drugs, especially heroin, poses a direct and massive threat to the lives and health of Russian people. While in 2001, on the eve of the Western intervention, opium poppy crops in Afghanistan had shrunk by an unprecedented 91 per cent (as a result of an effective ban imposed by the Taliban on poppy growing), by 2013, at the peak of the foreign military presence, the area where the poppy crop is cultivated, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, had increased 26 times to an historical high. The U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan did not set the explicit aim of reducing the production and trafficking of Afghan drugs. At the same time, the inability to offer solid economic alternatives at the macro- and micro-levels, the inefficiency of the Karzai administration and the Afghan authorities as a whole, and the escalation of the armed conflict contributed to the expansion of the opium economy. The completion of the withdrawal of the main U.S. and NATO forces by the end of 2014 will have a fundamental impact on the dynamic of the opium business, because it is accompanied by the retreat of government power and curtailment of development programmes in some regions, including the main drug-producing areas. That means even more opium and heroin in the coming years, including in Russia.

Nevertheless, in terms of Russia’s immediate role, the main consequences of the withdrawal of U.S./NATO forces will not impact Afghanistan as much as it will Central Asia, where this role will only grow. Although the threat of armed violence spilling out of Afghanistan into Central Asian countries should not be overestimated, the threat is serious enough (especially for Tajikistan) to serve as a catalyst for the activities of Russia and the CSTO in Central Asia. Russia has already responded to this challenge by combining security and military aid with expanding economic aid and cooperation with partners in Central Asia.

As for the situation inside Afghanistan, Russia’s role and influence are limited and will remain so. No one, even Russia’s partners in the region, and nothing, even the colossal scale of the drug threat coming out of Afghanistan, can draw Russia into establishing a direct presence or taking part in security assistance inside Afghanistan after 2014. Therefore, on the issues that worry Russia most in regard to Afghanistan, Moscow will have to rely on the authorities that are established inside the country. That determines the key aspects of Russian policy on Afghanistan as a whole and its position on the political crisis in the summer of 2014 in particular.

First, Russia has never had such a compelling and sincere interest in seeing a more efficient and legitimate Afghan state than it has today. And what is more, this task – making state power more functional and legitimate – may serve as the lowest common denominator for all the regional players with regard to Afghanistan (in spite of the differences and contradictions among them and different ideas about how to tackle the problem). At the end of the day, this same task is the declared priority of the United States with regard to Afghanistan. Its importance for the United States will grow because the hasty withdrawal of troops (under a certain arbitrary “schedule” and not depending on the existence of conditions for such withdrawal) threatens to undermine American positions and influence in the region in the long term.

Second, considering the weakness of the Afghan authorities (the government that will replace the Karzai administration is sure to be weak), Russia would like to see continued Western aid to Afghanistan in terms of security and development and even a continued residual presence of U.S. and NATO forces in that country. Such a presence is probably going to be based on a bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan, complemented by a corresponding agreement between Afghanistan and NATO, though Russia and most regional powers would prefer the agreement to be eventually formalized in the framework of the United Nations.

Third, after 2014, the problem of Afghanistan has become a powerful catalyst for developing and strengthening Russia’s cooperation with all the main regional players, including both its traditional partners (Iran, India) and (in the past) less likely partners (Pakistan).

Fourth, in the internal Afghan context, the policy of Russia, owing to its interest in seeing a more functional and legitimate Afghan state, is evolving in the right direction. Instead of priority support for certain ethnic and political factions and communities (notably Tajiks and Uzbeks), it is moving towards a more balanced approach that focuses on the national level, support of the central government and the Afghan state as a whole, and the development of relations with all the main factions and political forces.

As regards striking a balance on internal Afghan affairs, Russia is somewhere between Iran and China (both maintain working contacts with all the factions, but Iran is leaning more to the northerners, while China has more influence on the Pashtuns, partly through Pakistan). The pragmatic and balanced approach that emphasizes the national level is already bringing Russia some (admittedly modest) benefits: for example, the Afghan government was one of the few governments that de facto supported the reunification of Crimea with Russia. Moscow’s reluctance to side with any of the main candidates in the 2014 presidential elections reflects the increasingly balanced Russian approach to internal Afghan problems. Moreover, unofficially Moscow would welcome a coalition government and rule (for example, one of the two main contenders, be it Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani, one as president and the other as prime minister).

Finally, Russia will have to seek – and find – a balance between supporting the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan (Moscow is not opposed in principle to internal Afghan talks with the Taliban) on the one hand and calls for continued international aid to the Afghan national army and security bodies, including a readiness to strengthen them, on the other. Along with the settlement of the current political crisis, this is necessary to guarantee the viability of the central government in Afghanistan, to prevent a dramatic change in the military balance and retain some leverage with the rebels, which, depending on the outcome of the 2014 situation, would either push them to talk with Kabul or ensure their effective deterrence.

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.