Outrage and Fury


By Edmond Y. Azadian

The US once again witnessed events reminiscent of 9/11, although fortunately on a more limited scale but of equal sensationalism. The suspected Boston Marathon bombers, brothers Tsarnaev, terrorized Boston and its suburbs for almost three days. Watertown, the hub of many Armenian organizations, suffered the brunt of the massive manhunt which climaxed with the capture of the younger terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in that same town. The elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during a shootout with the police.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers did an outstanding job to minimize collateral damage and finish the manhunt, before the suspects inflicted further mayhem on the civilian population. The two bombs that exploded at the marathon finish had already caused three deaths and 170 injuries.

As the nation grieves its losses and wonders about the motivations of the suspects, the news media is ahead of itself to snatch crumbs of information to outdo competitors. Although that is the nature of the news business, irresponsibility is not.

In an atmosphere of heightened tension, all evidence discovered, every word said, every document released, is amplified and resonates loudly.

It seems that in this tense moment the Turkish and Azeri disinformation services have played their dirty roles to deflect the attention from the main case and float the Armenian name in the media, knowing full well that once the damage is done to the Armenian image, a million retractions and apologies cannot undo that damage.

It is beyond comprehension how the Armenian name was injected into this conversation about Chechen alleged terrorists.

Last Sunday, during an interview with the “Today Show,” the suspects’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, made a shocking statement to Savannah Guthrie, the anchorperson. Tsarni said a family acquaintance told him that there was outside influence on Tamerlan. “He said there is someone who brainwashed him, some new convert to Islam. I would like to stress [the acquaintance was] of Armenian descent.”

This outrageous statement must not be left unchallenged and the truth must come out.

The suspects’ uncle added he believes the radicalization occurred in the United States not overseas. Interestingly, Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia last year where he met with a reportedly radical Muslim cleric.

As a preemption of the approaching centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey and Azerbaijan have committed substantial resources to deflect all anticipated negative press that that may tarnish their images in the international community.

For the last several years, Azerbaijani news sources and even high officials, have been accusing Artsakh (Karabagh) falsely of being a conduit of opium trafficking, linking Afghanistan to Europe, whereas in reality, it is Azerbaijan that is involved in that illicit trade.

Within the context of the disinformation war, it seems very reasonable that Mr. Tsarni, a fellow Muslim, would try to muddy the water by not only bringing in the name of Armenians, but stressing that fact.

The law enforcement and legal establishments of the country are certainly duty-bound to divulge the identity of that “family acquaintance” who may have provided the information to him about the “Armenian, a new convert to Islam,” who had brainwashed these two suspected terrorists. The “Today Show” and its parent organization, NBC, are equally responsible for not checking their sources about this outlandish allegation, and since Mr. Tsarni insists that “it started here” and “it has nothing to do with Russia or Chechnya.”

Meanwhile, preliminary investigations indicate that the elder brother, Tamerlan, had taken a six-month trip to Dagestan and Chechnya last year, and “relatives say the bombing suspect found comfort back in Dagestan.” The headline is from a NY Times report (April 22) filed from Makhachkala, capital city of Dagestan.

In the concluding paragraph of that report, the NY Times correspondent writes: “Something, it seems, may have driven Tamerlan Tsarnaev to violence and Russian outlets have reported that investigators are looking into connections he may have had with Mosques known to promote extremist views.”

In addition to the Times report, information has emerged that the suspects had been under surveillance in Russia and the Russian law enforcement authorities had contacted the FBI about them. Now some questions arise whether the FBI did their due diligence or as a matter of policy was contented with the fact that potential terrorists were causing trouble for an adversary. Indeed, if not the US, but a NATO ally, Turkey, was providing safe haven, training and arms to Chechen rebels at one time to keep Russia’s southern borders simmering with insurgency. When the US was supplying heat-seeking, shoulder-held stringer rockets to Bin Laden to shoot down Soviet MIG planes in Afghanistan, no one predicted 9/11.

All logic and existing information indicate that the Armenian accusation is a blatant lie. But it has to be proven by the facts.

The legal establishment will certainly do a thorough job to reach the bottom of this calamity. The truth will come out into the open, but nobody will try to tend to the damage done to the reputation of the Armenians. That is our job and if we are outraged enough, we have to bombard Mr. Tsarni’s phone to come with the name of that “Muslim convert of Armenian descent.” Otherwise, he must issue an apology to the Armenians.

Traditionally, there has been no love loss between Armenians and Chechens. Even during the Genocide, the Kurds and the Chechens massacred Armenians.

After the collapse of the Soviet empire, the Chechens began fighting the Russians, and Armenia being a strategic ally of Russia, it was not treated on friendly terms by the Chechens.

In addition to all the historic and political facts, all investigations have been leading to Chechnya and Dagestan as most likely location to radicalize these misguided young men.

It is possible that a man of “Armenian descent” may convert to Islam but the repeated emphasis, seemingly without any reason, that the man who essentially lit the fuses of the two impressionable Chechen men was Russian, without his name being revealed, seems to indicate a tall tale, rather than express the true starting point of this cancer.

If this alleged culprit is living in the US, it will not be difficult to find him. And if Mr. Tsarni cannot point to him, then he will automatically become suspect himself. While his nephews are being accused of planting bombs at the Boston Marathon, he himself has planted a bomb in the news media to outrage an entire community.

It is incumbent upon every Armenian organization and individual to take up this challenge seriously and act — act with fury and with a demand for justice.

Readers should send a complaint to http://www.today.com/id/29041920/ns/today/t/email-today/#.UXa0Z4IVlZI and let NBC clean up after itself.