Trails Leading To Chaos

Even as police look for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who may be wearing an explosive vest, the first intelligible (if not always intelligent) accounts about him and his slain older brother, Tamerlan, are trickling out of the Boston area. It appears Tamerlan (presumably named after the Central Asian medieval warlord) had exhibited via social media some common interests with Jihadists, as MoJo’s Adam Serwer explains. Dzhokhar, though, a student at the University of Massachusetts’ Dartmouth campus, was by early accounts a quiet and even gentle young man; everyone who knew him and has spoken so far is shocked he would be involved in anything like this. Meanwhile, the fear of being associated with the Boston bombings is so intense that the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has made sure journalists know the Tsarnaevs haven’t lived there in quite a few years, and in fact lived in Kazakhstan before entering the United States.

Though the temptation is great to put together the words “Chechen” and “Terrorist” and “Muslim” and come up with a stereotype, the truth is rarely that simple, particularly with multiple people involved. But despite the warnings all of us were making just yesterday that responsibility for the bombings might not be affixed for months or years, news is moving at an astonishing speed right now, so we shouldn’t have too long to wait for something approaching truth.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress‘ Hayes Brown has some useful background about Chechnya and its connection to terrorist activity there and abroad.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.