WARNING–CONSPIRACY THEORIES AHEAD
When I’m at WBCR, I seem to be the go-to source for many of my colleagues who want to know arcane things about history. My problem is that I read a lot of alternate press pretty voraciously, and every once in awhile, I recall some obscure detail I’ve read a decade or so previously that is of use. As I write this, the reports are that the Boston Marathon bombers were two brothers of Chechen ancestry. Right now, 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is on the run. The way things are going, it looks like Tsarnaev will not be taken alive. So we may not learn what his motives were for unleashing death and mayhem on Monday.
That said, as I was reading the stories, something twigged–I remembered an obscure detail about the Chechen rebels, who handed the Russian Army a bloody nose in the early fighting in 1994, and seemed to be on the verge of achieving some autonomy at various times. So here’s what I know and how it might fit in with a motive. Again, I am the simple Actor–don’t go by my musings.
In 1996, the popular leader of the Chechen separatist movement and an elected president of the region, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was killed when satellite tracking located his satellite phone during a phone call with a Russian envoy seeking a cease-fire. The prolonged phone call allowed the Russians to drop a missile on him. At the time, Dudayev was also working behind the scenes trying to get International support for an independent Chechnya. This war for independence was not about Islam–it was about a fiercely independent group of people who’d long suffered under Soviet (and then Russian) control.
While the US had officially maintained neutrality in the issue of Chechen independence (telling Yeltsin that we considered the war an internal matter), there had long been allegations that the US was the source of the targeting information that killed Dudayev–that US SIGINT was turned over to Russia in real time, or that the US had helped Russia develop its ELINT capabilities. After Putin came to power in Russia, the attempts to suppress Chechnya reportedly turned far more brutal.
This is only a theory, of course–but it’s interesting that one of the Boston suspects (the 19 year old) shared the same first name. Is it a common name in Chechnya? Or was it a family tribute to their murdered leader?
So this is a shout-out to those who like their conspiracy theories incomplete–have at!