5:04 a.m. May 8, 2013

"I Hope I Didn't Contribute To It"

Over the past couple of weeks, I've pumped out thousands of words on the dark and ugly geopolitics that form the backdrop to the Boston Marathon bombing. Most of that will appear in the upcoming Print Edition (Issue 3) of NSFWCORP — but for now, I want to bring up a couple of incredibly strange leads in the Tsarnaev brothers' stories. It seems the media has lost interest in trying to make sense of the Tsarnaevs' terror attack on the Boston Marathon that left three dead and over 260 injured — too many unsolved mysteries, too much journalistic energy wasted chasing down the ridiculous "Misha" phantom.

Keep in mind that no matter how weird some of this material gets — and it does get weird — it does have an explanation. Not a pretty explanation, not anything that will make you feel any better about what happened in Boston and what's going on in the part of the world the Tsarnaev brothers come from — and not a simple explanation either, which is why the full story will have to wait for the print edition.

For now, I want to start with one of the biggest "What The Fuck?!" elements of the bombing story, a detail so far completely overlooked: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's high school project "mentor," Brian Glyn Williams. Brian Glyn Williams happens to work for the CIA, on Islamic suicide bombers, Chechnya, and jihadi terrorism. Williams is also an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, the university where 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was enrolled, and where he spent many of his last free hours between the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, and his arrest on April 19.

The day after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested, Brian Glyn Williams, the CIA man at U Mass-Dartmouth, confessed to a local reporter for the New Bedford Standard-Times,

"I hope I didn't contribute to it."

There's another link to the Tsarnaev brothers' story that wasn't so much overlooked as it was avoided as just too weird: That angry Chechen uncle of theirs in Maryland, the clean-cut attorney who called his nephews "losers"—Uncle Ruslan Tsarni (neé Tsarnaev) —who was married to the daughter of ex-CIA officer Graham Fuller. What hasn't been reported about Fuller is that he was the CIA's station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan in the late 1970s — when, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the CIA planted a trap for the Soviet Union, in the form of radicals who overthrew the Soviet-backed regime, sparking the disastrous invasion and occupation that eventually destroyed the Soviet Union, and gave rise to Al Qaeda and radical jihadis in their place.

So Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's former uncle-in-law was the top CIA officer in Kabul who brought down communism and empowered Islamic jihadi radicals; and when he was just 16 years old, Dzhokhar's high school project "mentor" was also a CIA specialist on Islamic terrorism, suicide bombers, and Chechnya.

As disturbing as these facts are, they're part of a much larger narrative, too big to call a "plot," whose center of gravity during the Bush years was a K Street front group called "The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya" — which brought together over 100 of the leading neocons, Zionists, liberal hawks, Cold War imperialists and a smattering of libertarians and non-interventionists to promote Chechen separatism. Starting a few weeks before the Supreme Court handed George W. Bush the White House, and right through Bush's two terms , Chechen separatism — violent, Wahhabi-influenced, funded and tied in with Al Qaeda, the global jihadi network, and even a handful of the 9/11 hijackers — was promoted, defended, and exploited for all it was worth by A-list foreign policy establishment names including William Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Robert Kagan, James Woolsey, Stephen Solarz, Richard Perle, Geraldine Ferraro, Norman Podhoretz, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, to name just a few.

The full story on the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya will have to wait for the big article in Issue 3, but what's important to keep in mind here is this: A lot of very important, and very awful people who've been steering the American Empire for the past few decades have taken a very keen interest in Chechens.

Considering the fact that there are only a few hundred Chechen refugees in the United States who were given asylum, it's not such a surprise that so many powerful interests and figures would show up just a degree or two from the half-Chechen brothers who set off the first jihadi terrorism act on US territory in almost a dozen years.

* *

For now, let's go back to the story of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's high school mentor-slash-CIA employee, professor Brian Glyn Williams — why was he initially so worried that he might have "contributed" to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's radicalization?

Two years ago, when Dzhokhar was a high school student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, his teacher introduced him to professor Williams, who helped mentor Dzhokhar through his big project he was working on about Chechnya — specifically, about Chechnya's fight against Russia for its independence, and the horrific tragedies and attempted genocides that the Chechens have suffered.

This is exactly the sort of material that has tended to radicalize Chechens into a jihadi mindset — which you could argue is justifiable, except when you consider the CIA man, and the neocons and imperialists who've championed that same tragedy, and that same cause. In that case, you have to ask why Chechen anger, pain, and radicalization were harvested and encouraged by the same people who exterminate Islamic separatists fighting for their right to self-determination everywhere else, starting with Israel's occupied territories.

In the first hours after Dzhokhar's arrest, Professor Williams went to great lengths to downplay his relationship with the teenaged jihadi, even as he worried about his influence on him. The high school class assignment on which Dzhokhar worked with Williams asked each student at the ethnically-diverse and well-regarded Cambridge public school to research their own ethnic identity. As reported the day after Dzhokhar's arrest in the Standard-Times [bold mine],

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose family fled the horrors of the Russian occupation, was about to learn about some harrowing things he escaped from at a very young age.

Williams, whose classes [at U. Mass-Dartmouth] on the War on Terror are routinely packed, obliged by exchanging emails with the then-17-year-old student.

There was a lot to read about. Especially since the Russians retook the tiny separatist republic, there are stories of mass killings, death camps, mass graves, torture, destruction.

There were retaliatory strikes inside Russia, including a hostage drama in a Moscow theater. Russia in the end sent 100,000 troops to surround Chechnya to keep it under their thumb.

As Williams put it, an ancient civilization was being wiped away. As many as one-fifth of the Chechen population of less than a million died in those years.

What stands out here is that Williams taught Tsarnaev a version of events that, while perhaps true or truer than other versions, is nevertheless highly debatable and most likely exaggerated. The number of Chechens killed in the two wars with post-Soviet Russia, while huge, are thought by many human rights activists and scholars to be far lower than the 200,000-250,000 figure cited by neocons who support Chechen separatism — somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 total casualties (including Russian and Chechen soldiers) which is a horrible enough figure in such a small population, and a morbid business.

Williams just completed a book about the Chechnya independence struggle that will be published next year — it's called "Inferno in the Caucus: The Chechen insurgency and the Mirage of Al Qaeda" which makes the poorly-timed point that Chechen separatism is not in any way linked to terrorism. It's patently false, and easy to debunk; but among America's foreign policy elites, it's gospel that Chechen fighters and Chechen separatism are as far removed from radical Islamic jihad as the Mouseketeers.

Continuing with the article,

On Friday morning, Williams awoke to hear that this young man was the suspect being sought in the Boston Marathon bombing Monday.

Williams shot me an email. I phoned him and at one point I heard a rare twinge of worry in his voice. "I hope I didn't contribute to it. That kid and his brother identified with the Chechen struggle," he said. But Williams recalled the student clearly, though the two never met and communicated by email, Williams sending him links to academic papers he's published and books he recommended.

"He was learning his Chechen identity, identifying with the diaspora and identifying with his homeland," he said. "He wanted to learn more about Chechnya, who the fighters were, who the commanders were. I sort of gave him background."

Giving Dzhokhar "background" — that's one way of putting it.

Oddly enough, professor Williams claimed he never met Dzhokhar in person, despite mentoring him through his Chechnya project and communicating with him on numerous occasions via email when he was in high school... and despite the fact that Dzhokhar enrolled in professor Williams' university, U. Mass- Dartmouth, after graduating from high school. One would think that Dzhokhar would be interested in meeting the Chechnya history professor who helped him so much on his high school project — but apparently, we're told that wasn't the case. It certainly seems remarkable that Dzhokhar never once dropped in on professor Williams' office or class. Williams would only go so far as to say that Dzhokhar was never "formally" a student of his —U Mass-Dartmouth has so far refused to release Dzhokhar's academic records, leaving us in the dark for now.

Just a month before the Boston Marathon bombings, a profile on professor Williams detailed his work for the CIA as an expert in identifying Islamic suicide bombers. According to the profile,

His work has taken him to London to consult with Scotland Yard and to Afghanistan to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. Williams was tasked with helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies understand the motivations and behaviors of suicide bombers. He is of the mind that while Islam is a subtext for much of the violence and terrorism in the region, it's not the sole explanation. His findings about suicide bombings in Afghanistan were informed by his understanding of tribal identities as much as fervor for the Jihadist movement. He came to these conclusions after being sent to Afghanistan by the CIA to perform firsthand research on these types of attacks.

And yet he missed the jihadi suicide bomber in his Inbox, whose radicalism he may have "contribute[d] to."

The day after professor Williams publicly fretted over whether he'd helped "jihadify" Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the FBI paid him a visit. On a Sunday. Presumably, they talked about professor Williams' relationship with the suspected terrorist. But a few days after their visit, Williams published a piece in the Huffington Post, headlined "Thoughts on the 'Jihadification' of Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev" that made no mention at all of FBI interest in his relationship with the suspect, or how he might have helped radicalize him. Instead, according to professor Williams' HuffPo article, the FBI popped by on a Sunday to tap his expertise — on suicide bombers and Chechen radicals. They came to learn, not to question. And what he taught them was simple: Chechens aren't terrorists. Only other Islamic jihadists are terrorists — but not Chechens, April 15-19th notwithstanding.

Here is Williams' cheery account of the FBI visit:

On Sunday two incredibly well informed FBI special agents arrived at my house here in Boston wanting to know anything I could teach them about the process of jihadi radicalization, as well as Chechens, a topic I covered in my class on Chechnya at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth titled "Fire and Sword in the Caucasus: A History of the Muslim Highlanders of Chechnya."

Either the FBI wasn't interested in his mentoring relationship with Dzhokhar, or professor Williams no longer wants to talk about it. Which would be fine, except that Williams goes on to tell the FBI agents, and HuffPo readers, his version of Chechen "background" — a version so full of factual errors and falsehoods that even Glenn Beck's editors would flag half of it:

I directed them to my earlier articles "Shattering the Chechen Al Qaeda Myth. Part I and II [Published at Jamestown Foundation]. These articles systematically demolished the misguided notion that the outgunned, Sovietized, Sufi-mystic Chechen rebels defending their mountain homeland from the mighty Russian Federation had somehow developed a foreign policy which bizarrely led them to become the evil henchmen of the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi fundamentalist terrorist Osama Bin Laden and his Pashtun tribal Taliban allies in Afghanistan. I myself personally traveled to Afghanistan in 2003 and interviewed numerous Taliban prisoners of war held by Northern Alliance Uzbek General Dostum to see if they had ever seen a real Chechen fighter of the sort reported to be the vanguard of their armies (see my photos here). None of them had ever seen or heard of Chechens; it was like looking for the Chechen Big Foot.

Were Chechen fighters in Afghanistan really as apocryphal and silly as a "Chechen Big Foot"? It's a strange thing to joke about so soon after the bombing, considering Professor Williams' relationship to a Chechen terrorist in Boston who'd just killed 4 and wounded over 270.

First, let's go back over the public record about Chechen fighters alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the months and years after 9/11. It's not Big Foot — it's a fact, and there are plenty of reasons why it makes sense that I'll get into in the bigger article. Here are just a few important points to keep in mind:

1) During Chechnya's brief three-year independence, between 1996 and Putin's invasion in 1999, Chechnya was one of the only places on earth that imposed harsh Sharia law. The only regime that recognized Chechnya's independence was Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

2) Scores of Chechens, including top commanders like Shamil Basayev, were trained in camps in Afghanistan and fought on the side of Islamic radicals in neighboring Tajikistan in the early-mid-1990s, as well as fighting in Azerbaijan and in Abkhazia.

3) The top foreign "jihadi" fighter and financier in Chechnya between 1995-2001 was a Saudi known as "Emir Khattab." Khattab trained under bin Laden, and Khattab was identified by CIA analysts, among others, as an Al Qaeda-linked jihadi terrorist. Khattab was both the leader of the "International Islamic Brigade" in Chechnya, and the top money man doling out Gulf funds to the Wahhabi factions that eventually overwhelmed the more "moderate" faction led by President Aslan Maskhadov. Moderate or not, Maskhadov did impose a rather brutal version of Sharia law in Chechnya, and his financier and vice president was directly linked to kidnapping gangs responsible for some of the thousands of Russians, Chechens and Westerners kidnapped, tortured, and in some cases beheaded or sold in open slave markets during Chechnya's brief independence.

Now, onto what professor Williams calls the "Chechen Big Foot" who never set foot in Afghanistan or fought US-backed forces after 9/11, a small sample of the many sources, ranging from top US generals to all the major US media, who would disagree:

  • During the first battle for Kunduz in Afghanistan's north, in November 2001, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told reporters,
    "There's Chinese in there, there's Chechens in there, there's Arabs in there, there's Al Qaeda in there..."
  • Agence France-Presse, in a March 22, 2002 article headlined "Americans follow Russians as target for Chechen diehards," reported:
They have been the stuff of nightmares for Russian troops and now US forces face the prospect of trying to combat fanatical Chechen fighters in Afghanistan who have thrown their lot in with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

"There are a hell of a lot of them and they sure know how to fight," one senior unnamed American officer told AFP after the conclusion of the recent offensive Operation Anaconda against diehard fighters in eastern Paktia province.

Islamic Chechen separatists, who have been involved in a fierce war for independence from Russia for the past 29 months, appear to make up the largest contingent of al-Qaeda's foreign legion.

"We know the history of the Chechens. They are good fighters and they are very brutal," [US Major General Frank] Hagenbeck said.

The general said he has heard of reports out of the Pentagon that a unit of 100-150 Chechens had moved into southern Afghanistan.

..."We were surprised somewhat" by the amount of evidence which suggested Chechens had been fighting in the region, he added.

General Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces, said in Moscow Thursday that Chechen fighters were among the al-Qaeda fighters taken prisoner by US troops but gave no figures.
  • The New York Times, reporting on a battle in Afghanistan's Shahi Kot Valley in the spring of 2002, reported,
Between 100 and 200 Qaeda and ''non-Afghan'' fighters, including Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks, have been killed in heavy fighting so far, General Franks said...
  • During the battle of Tora Bora in late 2001, where bin Laden managed to escape, the New York Times reported that Chechen fighters made up the fiercest contingent of Al Qaeda fighters:
Just how unpredictable this battle could be was illustrated today when reporters were told to be on hand for the surrender of 300 Arab and Chechen fighters, a development that would have marked a major breakthrough.

Hours later, a pickup truck of Kalashnikov-wielding fighters and Khan Muhammad, a local Afghan commander, drove down the hill and was besieged by the press. The Arab fighters, he insisted, were prepared to surrender, but the Chechens were determined to fight on.

There are endless reported examples of Chechens fighting with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — examples which completely belie the narrative pushed by Professor Williams, and Williams' powerful allies in the Jamestown Foundation, Freedom House, and the American military-imperialist establishment that's made a special project of coddling and harvesting Chechen radicalism, and aiming it at the soft oil-soaked underbelly of our old rival, Russia. No matter that reports from Syria tell of Chechen jihadi allies of Al Qaeda terrorizing areas around Aleppo — as reported in The Guardian last year. That doesn't really count, because the Chechen jihadists are fighting against Bashir Assad, an ally of Russia, and the rule is, if you're killing Russians, by definition you can't be a terrorist.

If you know anything about Chechen history, you can easily understand why many Chechen young men are drawn to jihadist groups. Chechens have been through a nightmare in the past century and a half — persecution and genocides on a scale almost incomprehensible even in the age of Schindler's List, persecutions that have only strengthened the Chechens' fearlessness and their superhuman will to resist, lending them a "haughty pride" that can be charming and impressive, or terrifying under the wrong circumstances. In the 19th century, Tsarist Russia waged a war of extermination against North Caucasus highlanders — Circassians, Chechens, and other groups, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands.

During the Second World War, Stalin had the entire Chechen nation deported in cattle cars, on a three-week journey to the Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz steppes, resulting in the deaths of at least one-third of the entire Chechen people. That is why the Tsarnaev's Chechen father was in Kyrgyzstan, a country that borders western China, rather than Chechnya proper — some Chechens stayed behind in Central Asia after Khrushchev rehabilitated the Chechens and allowed them to return to their homeland in 1957, 13 years after they were deported.

* *

Professor Williams is an expert on suicide bombers and radical Islamic jihad, and he publishes regularly in one of the best-known CIA-linked outfits, the Jamestown Foundation, which was set up in 1984 by Reagan's CIA chief William Casey as a sort of PR "colony" for Soviet defectors, who were expected to churn out Cold War propaganda under their CIA handlers' watchful eyes. Big names have sat on the Jamestown board, including Dick Cheney, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former CIA chief James Woolsey. Today, Jamestown's board includes former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden and retired Marine Corps four-star general Carlton Fultord, along with longtime GOP heavyweights like Kathleen Troia McFarland, who in 2011 couriered the controversial note from Roger Ailes to Gen. David Petraeus promising Murdoch's support if Petraeus ran against Obama in 2012.

Jamestown can turn out good analysis, when its ideology allows for it. In the 1990s, for example, it produced some of the best analysis of the Yeltsin regime's corruption, and the Clinton Administration's disastrous policies that supported the Yeltsin fiasco. But when the Empire's demands change, Jamestown analysts can be shameless when it comes to deploying the propaganda weapon.

Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation, was also the executive director of the now-defunct American Committee for Peace in Chechnya during the Bush years. Jamestown Foundation publications have published scores of reports and articles about Chechen terrorism and suicide bombers, assuring readers that Chechens aren't a terrorist threat because they only kill Russians, not Westerners. They also perform some rather hilarious verbal acrobatics trying to "prove" that Chechen suffering and national aspirations are in no way comparable to the Palestinians' sufferings and aspirations in the Occupied Territories. The argument comes down to something like this: Chechnya starts with a "Ch" whereas Palestine starts with a "P" — therefore, you can't compare the two. And that proves Palestinians are foreign-sponsored terrorists, whereas Chechens are George Washington's army in lambswool hats.

Professor Williams is also known as a leading expert on the Saudi Chechen rebel leader/terrorist, Khattab, the most obvious link between Chechen rebels and Al Qaeda. But because Khattab also confined most of his killing to Russians, civilians and military alike, Professor Williams' expert opinion on Khattab was that he wasn't a terrorist. Keep in mind, this isn't due to some profound Jamestown Foundation respect for Islam — after all, in October 2009, as Obama deliberated over his future policy in Afghanistan, professor Williams called for Obama to surge up bigtime in Afghanistan citing the handy ol' "AQ terrorism" threat. In a piece titled "Three Reasons Why Democrats Should Support More troops In Afghanistan," professor Williams listed as the first reason why America needed to surge in Afghanistan:

"Al Qaeda and the Taliban are one."

That's professor Williams' expert opinion on the Al Qaeda threat — a useful threat to play when you're trying to convince your audience on the need to commit more troops for more warfare. But when it comes to Chechnya jihadists like Khattab, Professor Williams bends over backwards to deny Al Qaeda ties that really do exist.

In 2011, Professor Williams was asked to appear at the Ottawa terrorism trial of Mohamed Harkat. The crux of the trial came down to whether or not Chechen jihadists and Khattab qualified as terrorists or not. Professor Williams flew in from Boston to assure the Canadian judge that they weren't terrorists, for the simple reason that they killed Russians, not Westerners. Killing Russians is legimitate; killing Westerners or Israelis is terrorism.

Here's an excerpt from the article in the Ottawa Citizen:

Brian Williams, a University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth history professor, said the idea that Khattab was part of the bin Laden network is "outlandish."

"I think the judge has really re-interpreted history," Williams said in an interview.

In the Harkat case, [Judge] Noel rejected the thrust of Williams' testimony, which cast Khattab not as a terrorist, but as a jihadist fighting on behalf of oppressed Muslims.

Noel ruled that Khattab was a terrorist by virtue of his "implicit support" for an allied rebel leader, Shamil Basayev, who embraced terror as part of a campaign to win Chechnya's independence from Russia. The judge also placed Khattab within the bin Laden network, saying he shared ideology, training and money with al-Qaeda.

But Williams said Khattab did not embrace bin Laden's terror campaign against the West and did not launch attacks that targeted civilians.

Khattab's entire career as a jihadist, Williams said, was spent fighting Russians on the battlefield, first in Afghanistan, then in Tajikistan, and finally in Chechnya.

"Bin Laden's enemy was a different enemy: bin Laden's enemy was the U.S., who had bases in Saudi Arabia. Khattab never spoke out against the Americans, or instigated terrorism against the Americans," Williams argued.

In the months after Bush took office in January 2001, this same orthodoxy exempting Chechen-separatism from scrutiny could have played a role in helping the 9/11 hijackers.

At least that's the argument made recently by former FBI agent and 9/11 whistlebower Coleen Rowley, Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2002. After the Boston Marathon bombers' identity was revealed, Agent Rowley posted an article venting her frustration at the FBI's refusal in August 2001 to act on information involving suspicious terrorist activity, because the person of interest was involved in recruiting jihadists to fight in Chechnya.

Rowley reminds readers about an FBI memo dated April 2001 and headlined "Bin Laden/Ibn Khattab Threat Reporting" that former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon recently discovered and wrote up. That memo — explicitly linking Khattab to bin Laden and a possible joint-effort terror attack on US soil — landed on FBI director Louis Freeh's desk that same month, five months before 9/11.

Shenon's article in Newsweek describes how the FBI memo,

warned about "significant and urgent" intelligence to suggest "serious operational planning" for terrorism attacks by "Sunni extremists with links to Ibn al Khattab, an extremist leader in Chechnya, and to Usama Bin Laden."

A few months after that memo, on August 17, 2001, a flight school instructor in Minneapolis was so alarmed by a suspicious student — Zacharias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" — that he called the local FBI bureau to report his concerns. The following day, an FBI agent named Harry Samit brought Zacharias Moussaoui in and arrested him for overstaying his visa. Agent Samit couldn't get Moussaoui to talk, so he wanted to get a warrant to look through his laptop and personal items — which meant he'd have to establish a reasonable suspicion of terroristic intent. As Shenon wrote in Newsweek,

counterterrorism supervisors were treating Samit's first reports about Moussaoui with skepticism, even contempt. Michael Maltbie, a D.C. counterterrorism specialist, insisted repeatedly in the days after the arrest that there was no clear link between Moussaoui and Al Qaeda—the link needed for a warrant.

Samit explained the situation to his superior in Minneapolis, who panicked and called FBI headquarters in DC, telling them he needed a warrant because he suspected that Moussaoui...

might be part of a plot "to get control of an airplane and crash it into the World Trade Center or something like that."

Again, FBI headquarters scoffed dismissively. So the Minneapolis agent Harry Samit got the US Embassies in Paris and London to look into Moussaoui's background. The FBI's legal attaché in Paris got back to Minneapolis with some startling news establishing a link between Moussoui and the Saudi warlord in Chechnya, Khattab. The only problem was that by August 2001, US policy did not recognize the Chechen rebels as terrorists with links to Al Qaeda or Bin Laden. True, there was an FBI memo on the FBI director Louis Freeh's desk explicitly warning that terrorists linked to Khattab and Bin Laden were planning a major attack — but the memo was dismissed, and the FBI man in Washington DC, who should have seen that memo but claims he didn't, rebuffed Minneapolis and shut down their requests for a warrant to look in Moussaoui's laptop.

Here's what happened: On August 22, 2001, the FBI man in Paris reported to the FBI in Minneapolis that "French spy agencies had evidence showing Moussaoui was a recruiter for Ibn Omar al-Khattab," whom Sheron describes in his Newsweek article as "a Muslim extremist and Chechen guerrilla leader long allied with Osama bin Laden." He also notes that Moussaoui's companion who was detained with him in Minneapolis told FBI agents that "Moussaoui followed a 'prophet' — Khattab."

But again the FBI man in DC blocked their request for a warrant, because Khattab and the Chechen separatists were not considered terrorists — indeed, the Bush Administration was officially recognizing the exiled separatist leaders, and the entire American foreign policy establishment had joined together to turn Chechen separatism into the human rights cause célèbre of the first Bush term.

But the FBI man in Minneapolis, Harry Samit, still wouldn't give up. So he contacted a CIA counterterrorism expert for his opinion on the significance of Moussaoui working as a recruiter for Khattab and learning to fly 747's. Sheron writes,

"[the] CIA counterterrorism expert ... said he had no doubt that the Chechens and Al Qaeda worked together. "Khattab was a close buddy with bin Laden from their earlier fighting days," the CIA official wrote.

You already know the unhappy ending to this episode. Only after the hijacked planes crashed into the WTC did a federal judge grant the FBI's Minneapolis office a search warrant — where they found evidence of Moussaoui's involvement in an Al Qaeda hijacking plot, and a phone number for an Al Qaeda operative named Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who was the money man for Moussaoui and the other 19 hijackers.

So Moussaoui was both a recruiter for Khattab in Chechnya, and a hijacker terrorist working directly for Bin Laden. That would seem to confirm exactly what the April 2001 FBI memo warned about: Sunni radicals linked to both the Chechen separatist warlord Khattab and to Bin Laden were planning a major attack.

But there was a much more powerful memo that had made the rounds of the US establishment — Chechen separatism was not terrorism, and in fact it could not be terrorism or allied with Al Qaeda or dangerous to America. The right-wing military-intelligence crowd at Jamestown Foundation, the neocons at Freedom House, the liberal hawks and pro-Israel Islamophobes and celebrity libertarians had all agreed: Chechen separatism can do no wrong. Caspian Sea energy resources and transit routes — and the relationship between that region's strategic value, and the larger strategic interest in the nearby Persian Gulf, meant that keeping Chechen separatism alive and spirits high were far more important in the bigger picture than the odd, isolated violent blowback we'd have to endure every once in awhile — a 9/11 plot that could've perhaps been exposed, or a family of Chechen refugees who apparently were becoming radicalized into jihadists, something that's not supposed to happen, something that officially cannot happen.

The Tsarnaevs were granted asylum here in 2002-3, at the peak of the neocons' pet project promoting Chechen separatism. And as USA Today reported, "The Jamestown Foundation has testified on behalf of several ethnic Chechens who have applied for asylum in the United States."

In 2004, a Boston court granted asylum to the exiled Chechen government foreign minister, Ilyas Akhmadov, sparking outrage from Putin.

So when the Russian FSB warned the FBI that some of our Chechen refugees were becoming radicalized and "jihadified," it may be that the FBI really was as unconcerned as they claim they were. And when Tamerlan, the older brother, went to Dagestan, he very likely met up with radical Islamic jihadists, but that only proved the Jamestown spooks and neocons right about Chechens, at least in their own mind: They only do their killing on Russian territory. They're not a threat to us.

And when Tamerlan Tsarnaev returned from Russia to target America, and roped his younger brother into the plot, it could not mean what it really meant; it had to be the work of psychologically demented individuals. Otherwise, the neocons and Islamophobes and "liberal hawks" — and Brian Glyn Williams — would have to explain how the Boston Marathon bombings were in fact blowback from a very dark and savage game being played out by America's leading hawks, Cold Warriors and oil imperialists along the energy-rich underbelly of Russia.