As the investigation into the Boston Bombing moves forward The Telegraph yesterday released information from Russian sources indicating that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been identified by Canadian jihadist William Plotnikov as an online contact. According to The Telegraph, “Plotnikov gave a list of people in Europe and the US with roots in Russia’s North Caucasus, with whom he had communicated via online social networking sites”.
Plotnikov, a convert who quickly identified with a radical version of islam, was killed in fighting with Russian forces in Dagestan. Prior to that fire fight Russian forces had interviewed Plotnikov with respect to his reason for coming to Dagestan after being tipped off by his father.
This online contact and possible direct contact between Tsarnaev and Plotnikov in Dagestan appears to have been part of the reason why the Russian FSB requested the FBI pay additional attention to him. Tsarnaev returned to the United States just two days after Plotnikov was killed by Russian forces.
Both Tsarnaev and Plotnikov demonstrated many similarities: they both had sudden changes in their religious observance, were isolated from family, engaged in online jihadist material, and were in contact with online radicalizing elements. That they both travelled to Dagestan where they were able to seek out direct access to groups like Shariat Jamaat would have further increased their susceptibility to radicalization and mobilization.
Plotnikov himself, a title winning boxer and former Toronto Seneca college student, is celebrated as a martyr on Chechen jihadist social media sites as seen here. Until recently Chechen extremist sites have received little attention from western media and law enforcement agencies. I strongly suspect the days of Chechnya being a Russian only problem are now far behind us.
By Jeff R. Weyers