"[Dkhokhar Tsarnaev] never seemed out of the ordinary at all," high school classmate Sierra Schwartz told "Good Morning America" today. "This is not someone who seemed troubled in high school or shy. He was just one of us. It's very weird."
Senator Diane Feinstein, Chairwoman, Senate Intelligence Committee, and Representative Mike McCaul, Chairman, House Homeland Security Committee.
I know how busy you are, so let´s cut to the chase -- literally.
Tomorrow, you will call upon the FBI to do this week what it has never been able to do before: explain why it can´t identify a terrorist two feet away.*
"Washington (CNN ) -- When Russia asked the FBI in 2011 to check out Tamerlan Tsarnaev because of his shift toward increasing Islamic extremism, the bureau interviewed him and his family as part of a review that found no ties to terrorism.
Two years later, Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother allegedly set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon that killed three people, then killed a university police officer and sparked a manhunt that paralyzed the city last week.
Now members of Congress want to know how someone who was brought to the attention of authorities and who exhibited increasingly radical leanings never came under further monitoring or questioning."
Real questioning is out of the question without a change of -- not in -- basic assumptions and perceptions. Otherwise stated: the FBI needs to stop looking at what is not there, and to start looking at what is there.
They aren´t the only ones.
Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, distinguished committee members: in your hearings on the FBI´s botched investigation in 2011 of Tamerlan Tsarnaev: beware.
Because your staffs (among others) will not permit you to read these words until it is too late -- if ever -- I fear your hearings will be stillborn. You about to be spectators to the same old D.C. parade of the same old faces, hear the same tired testimonies, ask the same tired questions and arrive at the same exhausted conclusions. A dead puppet show.
You are wise to hold the hearings behind closed doors. Wherever people are mutilated and killed, the killing and mutilation of truth is not far away. The dead and mutilated of Boston and elsewhere yesterday and tomorrow do not deserve that second massacre.
* * *
BBC News questioned people who knew the Tsarnaev brothers. Those media interviews are by now a consecrated rite of passage. But passage to where? We are being sent from Pontius to Pilate. We see and hear exactly what we saw and heard after every other domestic terrorist atrocity:
A neighbor "Mr. Faria ... says he is ´dumbfounded´ about his friend [Dkhokhar Tsarnaev, now in custody]. ´We're watching the news all day and we see his face on TV,´ he says. ´It doesn't sit.´ He shrugs."
Of the older brother, Tamerlan, shot dead by police: "No one knows why he turned out the way he did," said Nancy Aiguier, who lives down the street: "That's the million-dollar question..."
The million-dollar question: Why?
So simple; so difficult.
The question intrigued me to the extent that I spent over 30 years researching it. The findings became available in 2009, when The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion was published. Amazon´s summary:
"Every time a middle class person becomes a terrorist, the same question arises: Why? Each time, only mystery and silence remain. Until now. The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion breaks the code of an otherwise inexplicable, deadly phenomenon."
Inexplicable. No one knows why: the mantra continues. Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, get ready: in hundreds of hours of listening -- I admire your iron kidneys -- and thousands of pages of testimony, you will not answer the million-dollar question. CNN, ABC, the CIA, Secret Service, Homeland Security and the FBI have no new insights to offer. And no, you won´t find out Why? from 19-year-old Dkhokhar Tsarnaev. He is physically as well as mentally mute. By which I mean: if Dkhokhar could say why he did it, he wouldn´t have done it. More on this below. Ditto his brother Tamerlan, dead at 26 years of age, as well as Tamerlan´s widow, Katherine.
Senator Feinstein, Representative McCaul, distinguished committee members: I know you cannot stop the parade. Protocol requires it. But you can stop seeing what is not there.
* * *
We will explore an answer to Why? Unless you read The Source of Terrorism or are a regular reader of this blog, you have never seen our answer before. First, though, we must finish the chase.
Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, in your congressional hearings the FBI will no doubt crow and bray about how it captured the Boston Marathon terrorists so quickly.
Well, let´s keep our focus on what is there -- not what is not there.
Here is what is there. Time ("How a Stupid Mistake Led Police Straight to the Boston Terrorists") told how the Tsarnavev brothers were located:
"To recap: After the FBI released images of Tamerlan and Dkhokhar Tsarnaev on Thursday night, the men sprang into malevolent action. They first shot and killed an MIT campus police officer. Then they carjacked a man–who has not been identified but is described as a Caucasian in his 20s–and rode with him in his black Mercedes SUV. According to federal authorities, the Tsarnaevs used the man’s ATM card to withdraw $800 from bank machines in the area. This would explain keeping him alive initially, rather than shooting him and taking his car: The brothers would have needed his ATM pin number to access the cash.
The mystery involves what happened next: The Tsarnaevs either dumped their hostage at a Cambridge gas station, or allowed him to escape, perhaps in the confusion after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was caught trying to shoplift junk food from the gas station’s convenience store. (That would count as another pretty boneheaded move, by the way.) The man was unharmed, though understandably hysterical, and immediately called 911.
[Update, April 22, 2:55 p.m.: A federal affidavit released today asserts that the carjacking victim ´managed to escape´... The affidavit also describes how one of the Tsarnaev brothers showed the victim that he had a loaded gun and told him, ´Did you hear about the Boston explosion ... I did that.´"
In sum, we can chalk off the FBI´s "brilliant" success to dumb -- very dumb -- luck.**
Readers of The Source of Terrorism and of this blog know we have a method to find terrorists -- a method which, in the Boston case, would have identified the terrorists a lot quicker than dumb luck. More importantly, the method would have avoided the post-Marathon violence in which officer Sean Collier lost his life.
Our Terrorist I.D. Procedure:
1. Take out a telephone book.
2. Open it to universities and colleges.
3. Call their engineering schools.
4. Acquire lists of their present and past students and professors.
Before continuing: why engineering schools? Mark Sageman, formerly a C.I.A. psychiatrist, concluded from his first-hand study of terrorists: "Very often these persons have already chosen such unambiguous technical fields as engineering, architecture, computer science, or medicine. Students of the humanities and social sciences were few and far between in my sample." (Marc Sageman, Understanding Terrorist Networks, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2004, p. 116. Cited in The Source of Terrorism, p. 295). For the record, Dr. Sageman also concluded that terrorists were "generally middle-class, educated young men." (Op.cit., p. 96.)
5. Tamerlan was a former engineering student. Dkhokhar was a marine biology student. In this case, the FBI had photos of the suspects. The fact the FBI released the photos to the media showed it had zero leads regarding who the suspects were and hoped the general public would help. Tragically, the publication of the photos tipped off the brothers that the noose was tightening; their spree of violence ensued.
The FBI should have withheld the photos and showed them only to engineering school personnel. They would have identified and located the Tsarnaevs within hours.
6. If engineering schools do not provide leads, proceed to other hard science faculties, e.g., medicine, computer science and architecture, thereafter to all other faculties associated with middle class professions.
7. If universities and colleges provide no leads, shake the tree. Open the phone book again. Bring in all middle class professionals, e.g., engineers, lawyers, doctors and accountants, for interrogation. Somebody will know something.
The Procedure is déjà vu for regular readers of this blog. An outline appeared in our post of April 7, 2011, "Abimael Guzman: Terrorists in Tights." That post has received an extraordinary number of visits from around the world. 95% of the visitors do not leave traces of their geographical location/other co-ordinates. In other words: the visitors are primarily intelligence agents.
Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, whether viewing the Procedure as my work, the practical and logical application of Marc Sageman´s observations, or just old fashioned common sense, the same burning question for the FBI emerges: why wasn´t the Procedure followed in Boston? Don´t try to tell me the agency did not know about it; they did. The problem is, they did not see it -- not really. Instead, the agents were looking at something that was not there and never will be. We will return to this point.
The terrorist I.D. Procedure works. Again, it would have nailed the Tsarnaevs faster and safer. However, a gross deficiency remains.
FBI agents, our Procedure will very likely put your guy in front of you. The chase is over. Now what? Tamerlan was looking at you; you were looking at him -- and you didn´t see a thing. Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, we return to the origin of your hearings: the FBI had Tamelan Tsarnaev in 2011 and let him go.
The Procedure, then, is necessary but not sufficient. We must delve deeper -- answer, no matter how partially and provisionally, the million-dollar question.
* * *
A primordial definition is required to answer a perennial question:
Do we know what we are talking about?
What is a terrorist? Were Tamerlan and Dkhokhar Tsarnaev terrorists? The lack of a helpful, reasonable definition of terrorist by academics*** and government bodies**** is a major source of the enigma and silence surrounding Why?
Here is the definition of terrorist advanced in The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion:
"A terrorist is usually a middle class rebel (1) experiencing magnified marginal or transitional conditions, who (2) voluntarily (3) goes through certain rites of passage, among which are (4) clique membership and (5) a deliberate decision to commit a criminal act that is almost always (6) violent and usually (7) murder, in (8) the name of higher intentions or convictions without (9) retaining consciously the ambiguity of his criminal act and his higher intentions/convictions. He expresses powerful, unconscious, ambivalent emotions in two ways: (10) converting his intentions/convictions into idées fixes or absolute truths, the opposite extreme from ambiguity, and (11) wielding uncertainty as a weapon. That uncertainty is total, as shown by the fact that (12) everyone — allies, non-combatants, even himself — is a potential victim. A concluding note: it is the syndrome, the running together of components, which counts — not specific components taken in isolation.
By not admitting what he cannot admit, the terrorist guards his secret, even from himself.
By not admitting what he is, the terrorist shows the gravity that admission holds for him. To my knowledge, no terrorist or other middle class rebel has ever said what he is.
What he is, is the secret he keeps: he is a middle class rebel."
Information about the Tsarnaevs continues to flow in, much of it false and contradictory. Consequently, the analysis that follows is necessarily incomplete.
Let´s run the brothers through our definition of terrorist. The definition breaks the code; it forces us to look at what is there.
The opening question: were the Tsarnaevs middle class?
The Source of Terrorism defines middle class in two ways:
(1) Middle class as it is most commonly understood, i.e., a socio-economic class.
The brothers´ parents live in Dagestan, a semi-autonomous state in Russia. The father returned there from the U.S. a year ago, leaving his sons behind in the Boston area. I have been unable to find definitive accounts of the parents´ occupations***** or educational backgrounds. In a New York Times article they are described as "intelligentsia"; one aunt is a lawyer. A Daily Mail article notes a second aunt is a surgeon who lives in Canada.
Provisional conclusion: the Tsarnaev brothers are from the socio-economic middle class -- perhaps lower middle class (see below).
(2) Middle class can also be understood in its broader sense of any transitional/intermediate/marginal status or condition.
Here the evidence is unequivocal, overwhelming.
The Tsarnaev family was geographically and culturally unsettled; one could almost say homeless.******They lived in various countries before arriving in the U.S. in 2002.
There were signs of alienation:
"A decade in America already, I want out," Dzhokhar tweeted in March 2012.
As for Tamerlan, The Telegraph reported:
"´I don't have a single American friend. I don't understand them,´ Tamerlan told an interviewer in 2009 before another boxing competition, lamenting the breakdown of ´values´ in America and voicing worries about the general excess of American life, observing ´people can't control themselves.´"
The title of a BBC report on Tamerlan caught the essence of his acute transitional/marginal/intermediate status: "A lone wolf between two worlds."
Finally, the fact that Anzor, the brothers´ father, was originally from Chechnya is particularly important. That war-torn area is as turbulent as it is violent. Rremember the hostages taken in the bloody seizures by Chechen separatists in a Moscow theater and a Russian school ? I was living in Moscow in 1994, when war broke out. Until-death-do-us-part hatred was mutual.
To conclude, the Tsarnaevs can be characterized as middle class in both senses of the term.
There is a second preliminary question: were the Tsarnaev brothers rebels? The Source of Terrorism analyzed middle class rebellion in over 400 pages. No, TV reporters, I won´t give you a 10-second summary. I will, however, address three doubts which many readers -- Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, you may be among them -- probably have.
(1) How can somebody described over and over again as ordinary be a terrorist? Another case among many others appeared in our post of April 14, 2011: Faisal Shahzad, would-be Times Square Bomber, was a "normal dude. You wouldn't have looked at him twice."
The answer is, the terrorist is extremely ordinary. It is precisely that extra-ordinary quality of his ordinariness that gives him away.
An extreme always testifies to the presence of its opposite somewhere nearby, usually in a latent condition. That closeness is what gives an extreme its energy, viz., makes it extreme. We discussed the ease and rapidity with which an extreme can flip and become its opposite in our post of July 26, 2012, "Clueless in Colorado" on James Holmes, Batman killer of 12 in an Aurora, Colorado theater:
"Psychoanalyst Carl Jung defined the tendency of extremes to change into their opposites as enantiodromia or ´the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counter-position is built up, which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control.´ (C. G. Jung, ´Psychological Types,´ in C. G. Jung, The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 6, H. G. Baynes, translator, 1990, p. 426. (Paragraph 709). ) Jung did not attach the crucial importance that I do to the relationship between enantiodromia and social milieu."
(2) A closely related question: how can the brothers, who were such conformists, be rebels? Tamerlan rigorously conformed to the dictates of the Moslem religion, demanding his mother to cover herself in public, not drinking, etc. At the same time, however, on the Internet he openly supported the Chechnya liberation movement (see below). Dkhokhar, the younger brother, who often is described as a "nice kid," slavishly followed Tamerlan -- hardly the sign of a rebel as commonly understood.
Answer: the same logic noted above applies. The extreme nature of the brothers´ conformism exposed them as rebels.
Exaggerated submission/conformism is a hallmark of middle class rebellion. Historically, it is one of the major contradictions cultivated by middle class rebels over the past two centuries:
"(1) Total intellectualism and total anti-intellectualism. (2) Absolute violence and absolute pacifism. (3) High moral principles and immoral practices. (4) Complete insubordination and complete submission. (5) Total revolution and total reaction. On countless occasions, rebels vacillated between those opposing extremes, often with fatal results." (The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion, p. 174)
A March Internet post by Dkhokhar made explicit the rebel tie-ín : He tweeted: "´Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.´ A week and a half earlier, he reminded his followers, ´Never underestimate the rebel with a cause.´"
As we shall see, the two preliminary questions and their answers reverberate throughout our 12-point definition of terrorist:
Let us proceed, then, point by point.
A terrorist is usually a middle class rebel (1) experiencing magnified marginal or transitional conditions...
Add to the transitional/marginal/transitional conditions mentioned above, especially an immigrant status from the troubled Chechnya:
(i) An unstable parental relationship. They divorced in 2011, and later reconciled.
(ii) In America the Tsarnaev family went on welfare. After his parents left America, Tamerlan, his wife and child received welfare until 2012, when they no longer met eligibility limits.
(iii) Tamerlan´s widow says he dropped out of engineering school at Bunker Hill Community College and stayed home. At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dzhokhar failed many classes, barely scraped by in others. A classmate recalled: “He was a really smart kid, but having a little difficulty in college because going from high school to college is totally different.”
(iv) Tamerlan gave up boxing, a potential vocation and life-long passion. A Wall Street Journal report:
"Anzor Tsarnaev said he was ´outraged´ by his son's decision to drop boxing. He said Tamerlan told him that a Muslim must not punch another man in the face. Anzor said he grew up in Soviet times, when it was taken for granted that Muslims didn't have to follow such strict rules. ´I told him I trained him all his life so that he could accomplish something, so that he could be a champion at something,´ Anzor said. ´He discarded it."
In brief, marginal/transitional/intermediate conditions abounded.
Continuing with our definition:
The terrorist (2) voluntarily (3) goes through certain rites of passage, among which are (4) clique membership
Tamerlan voluntarily spent 6 months last year in Russia, Dagestan and Chechnya. Nobody knows his movements or associations, in particular if he was a member of a terrorist clique. However,
(1) his activities were of such a nature as to generate the Russian government´s inquiry to the FBI about a possible terrorist affiliation.
(2) As discussed in The Source of Terrorism, videos and Internet posts can constitute rites, e.g., suicide bombers often videoed final testaments as a rite of passage to another world.
Tamerlan left no doubt in Internet posts about his support of Chechen independence and Islam. The Guardian reported:
"A YouTube account that appears to have been run by the elder Tsarnaev includes a playlist devoted to Timur Mutsuraev, a Chechen singer now in exile who sang of the republic's battle for freedom from Russia. His account also includes a playlist devoted to `terrorism"`, including one video in English entitled `The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags from Khorasan`. He also maintained a playlist devoted to Islam. Chechnya's separatist cause struck Tamerlan Tsarnaev deeply, according to a report by photographer Johannes Hirn, who profiled the young Chechen when he was training for a boxing match in 2010. One caption in the report reads: `Unless his native Chechnya becomes independent, Tamerlan says he would rather compete for the United States than for Russia.`"
Other rituals may have taken place before and after the Boston Marathon bombings. The brothers kidnapped a Chinese driver, "Danny," and carjacked his Mercedes. During the ensuing 90-minute demented road movie, Boston.com. reported the brothers "put on an instrumental CD that sounded to Danny like a call to prayer."
(Update May 4: regarding Tamerlan´s participation in terrorist cliques, the Russians are emphatic.
"Russian authorities warned the FBI about the potential threat Tamerlan Tsarneav posed not once but ´multiple times` and at least once since October 2011,´ members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee were told Tuesday...
Moscow had filed a request with the FBI concerning Tsarnaev, saying that he was a follower of radical Islamism and was preparing to leave the US for a particular region to join ´unspecified underground groups.´")
(3) The FBI issued a report stating that the Tsarnaev bombs required "additional training" beyond instructions available on the Al-Qaeda Internet site (see this blog, December 11, 2010, "Terrorist Humor, Al-Awlaki and Dandyism") from which Dzhokhar claims the brothers learned how to make a bomb. Training in bomb making could not only indicate clique membership, it would also constitute an initiation rite if performed under certain conditions.. The obvious question: did Tamerlan receive training during his six-month trip abroad?
Back to our definition. As a rite of passage, the terrorist makes (5) a deliberate decision to commit a criminal act that is almost always (6) violent and usually (7) murder...
The deliberateness of their decision to commit murder became blatant when the Tsarnaevs kidnapped "Danny.": "´Don’t be stupid,´ he told Danny. He asked if he had followed the news about Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings. Danny had, down to the release of the grainy suspect photos less than six hours earlier. ´I did that´ said the man, who would later be identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev. ´And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.´" No claim of self-defense, no pretense to passion, no denial: no accident. The Source of Terrorism (p. 135) noted that:
"the terrorist makes a decision. This decision is crucial; it is a rite of passage. It takes material form in the videos that many terrorists make before acting. It is also manifested in the meticulousness of planning that has become Al Qaeda’s trademark. When numerous bombs are detonated simultaneously, the attacker sends an unambiguous signal that his criminal act is premeditated, intentional, chosen; in that regard, he wants no mistake made on our part."
Back to our definition: the terrorist murders in (8) the name of higher intentions or convictions without (9) retaining consciously the ambiguity of his criminal act and his higher intentions/convictions.
Recovering in the hospital, Dkhokhar reportedly told authorities he and Tamerlan acted out of religious motives. This is consistent with another report: "When he asked his older nephew why he wasn't in school, he said Tamerlan gave an enigmatic answer. ´Oh, I'm in God's business,´ ..."
A lack of ambivalent feelings -- if not callousness -- is evident in statements Tamerlan made to friends the day after the Marathon massacre:
"Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev talked to multiple college friends about the Boston Marathon attack just a day after he allegedly planted the explosive that killed an eight-year-old boy and maimed dozens more.
'Yeah, man tragedies can happen anywhere in the world. It's too bad,' he told one friend at the gym on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, according to CNN. "
To another friend Dzhokhar was more specific: "Sophomore Zach Bettencourt recalled Tsarnaev telling him on Tuesday evening: 'It's crazy this is happening now. This is so easy to do. These tragedies happen all the time in Afghanistan and Iraq.'"
If he could see the photo at the top of this post of the man with both legs blown off, Tamerlan would shrug. He would not find the remotest discrepancy whatsoever between his nostalgia for "values" and renewed "self-control" by Americans and the dismembered man. Remember Tamerlan´s words: This is so easy to do. Our definition explains how:
The terrorist expresses powerful, unconscious, ambivalent emotions in two ways: (10) converting his intentions/convictions into idées fixes or absolute truths, the opposite extreme from ambiguity, and (11) wielding uncertainty as a weapon.
The day of the Boston Marathon attack Dzhokhar wrote: "There are people that know the truth but stay silent & there are people that speak the truth but we don't hear them cuz they're the minority." And Dzhokhar knew the absolute truth absolutely: On Nov. 29, he wrote: "I kind of like religious debates, just hearing what other people believe is interesting and then crushing their beliefs with facts is fun." Facts, then, were on Dzhokhar´s side. But more than that, he considered his side in religious debates to be not in the realm of the normative -- what should be -- but empirical -- what is. God is: from that standpoint another post flowed logically on Jan. 15: "I don't argue with fools who say Islam is terrorism it's not worth a thing, let an idiot remain an idiot." If something is an absolute truth, any dissident from it can only be an absolute idiot.
Here a basic question emerges. Why are middle class rebels attracted to Islam? The latter is far more exacting than Christianity of rigorously prescribed behavior . Former CIA employee Marc Sageman:
"Islam is one of the most communal of all religions, with many orchestrated shared rituals.…Islam prescribes regular behavioral practices such as praying, often in groups, five times daily. It also proscribes many practices, depending on the interpretations one accepts. Salafi Islam is very strict in its code of conduct and prescribes various codes of appearance, dress, diet, and conduct especially vis-à-vis gender roles. Salafists believe in a literal interpretation of the Quran and the life of the Prophet, and in the necessity of imposing Sharia [strict Koranic law] in the state and protecting the faithful from corruption by Western values. The elegance and simplicity of its interpretations attract many who seek a single solution devoid of ambiguity [sic]." (Op.cit., p. 116. Cited in The Source of Terrorism, p. 314)
It is crucial to note that Islamic terrorists reject the two Islamist traditions of analogies and consensus of Islamic scholars. (Sageman, op.cit., p. 4). Both are sources of ambiguity within the Moslem religion. Thus in rejecting them, terrorists reveal the primary importance they attach to relief from ambiguity. Where Islam does not provide it, Islam is rejected.
The media are in a feeding frenzy over a mysterious "MIsha" who purportedly converted the Tsarnaevs to radical Islam. However, the fact is that in order for someone to be converted, something must be there to convert. The middle class rebel can make a radical religion out of anything; a straight line will suffice. It is that propensity which is of primary importance.
What, then, is that something there?
As analyzed at length in The Source of Terrorism, relief from unconscious, ambivalent emotions produced and maintained by an ambiguous situation inherent to any intermediate/transitional/marginal, i.e., middle class status or conditlon, is ultimately what the middle class rebel seeks. No more whipsaw; no more "There´s the good side and the bad side"; no more "On the one hand, on the other." The quest for relief from uncertainty, ambiguity, and ambivalence, is the key to the rebel´s mystery and mystique; it is the ultimate answer to the million-dollar Why?
As for the terrorist´s infliction of uncertainty on his victims, The Source of Terrorism concludes (p. 137): "The use of uncertainty as a weapon is a major defining characteristic of terrorism; terrorism does not exist without it. By wielding uncertainty, the terrorist announces what for him is the worst thing possible, the ultimate punishment." In Boston, one bomb was enough. Or was it? Two bombs meant there might be more. How many? Where were they? Were they set to explode? Ambiguity reigned; nobody could be certain -- except the brothers. Finally, they had found certainty in an uncertain world, if only for a few hours.
Terrorist definition: That uncertainty is total, as shown by the fact that (12) everyone — allies, non-combatants, even himself — is a potential victim.
The brothers must have known that Boston streets are equipped with cameras, especially for a special event like the Marathon. The brothers could have used the surveillance to their advantage. With a little preparation, the FBI would have been sent off in search of two bald guys with moustaches. Yet the brothers did not bother with disguises.
Having committed more than one capital crime, the videoed Tsarnaevs were, like the people they murdered and maimed, doomed. From potential victims of their own acts, they transformed themselves into their own victims. That may be why, after the media posted the photos of the brothers, they held a nihilistic coming-out party replete with guns, bombs, a kidnapped Chinaman, a hijacked Mercedes, stolen money and stolen junk food. Suggestion to Dzhokhar´s captors: slip him a copy of The Brothers Karamazov. Come to think of it, before doing so you might want to check it out.
As for allies as potential victims, to escape the police Dzhokhar jumped in a car and ran over his wounded brother lying on the pavement. Tamerlan died shortly thereafter in a hospital. Did Dzhokhar kill Tamerlan? Does he know? Does he care?
It should come as no surprise that Dzhokhar later tried to commit suicide. The bullet passed through his throat, missing his spinal cord, and exited the back of his neck. Consistent with the unconscious dictates of middle class rebellion, he could not exempt himself from being a fatality.
We come to the concluding point of our definition: By not admitting what he cannot admit, the terrorist guards his secret, even from himself.
By not admitting what he is, the terrorist shows the gravity that admission holds for him. To my knowledge, no terrorist or other middle class rebel has ever said what he is.
What he is, is the secret he keeps: he is a middle class rebel.
That admission would be incomprehensible to the Tsarnaev brothers. How can you admit what you really are when what you are going is not real to you? During their maniacal ride with the kidnapped "Danny," Tamerlan said him, "This is like something you see in a movie, isn't it?"
The air of unreality shows the brothers were possessed by an unconscious archetype. Unlike them, it knows how to shut up.
In summary, the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings had middle class rebel written all over them. Look again at the faces of the victims at the top of this post. They were more than noncombatants -- they were the antithesis of combatants. They are as sweet and innocent as the first day of spring the Boston Marathon celebrates. Children, moms, dads and dogs attend a world-renowned event, the super fun family day incarnate. Given the middle class rebel´s cult of contradiction, had the audience´s innocence been any less pure, there would have been no point blowing them to pieces.
We have seen this dynamic before many times, e.g., In Portland, Oregon, where 19-year-old Mohamad Mohamud targeted Christmas shoppers (see our post of December 3, 2010).
* * *
We come to the proverbial bottom line. Why do not -- cannot -- FBI agents spot a terrorist two feet away?
Answer: they have ideological promises to keep.
Senator Feinstein, Representative McCaul, I suspect their problem is your problem in more ways than one.
Those ideological promises were analyzed in depth in The Source of Terrorism. The following outline was offered in our post of July 27, 2012, on James Holmes, Batman terrorist in Aurora, Colorado:
"I would like now to address Americans only -- in particular the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and other anti-terrorist professionals:
You do not understand what happened in Aurora for the same reason I do not understand Chinese. As a group (not as individuals) you do not have the formal education, cultural background or life experience required to make sense of James Holmes in particular, middle class rebel terrorists in general. Furthermore, in your case, there is an additional barrier:
You are overpowered by an ideology; it is blinding you to realities two feet in front of you. A cursory rundown:
-- You believe that socio-economic classes are unimportant, that they tell little or nothing about a person. That belief prohibits you from seeing that the very classes-don´t-count belief you hold so dearly is the product of a class -- the middle class, to be exact. Because the phenomenon of socio-economic class means nothing to you, the fact that James Holmes and other terrorists are middle class means nothing to you. You see that fact -- nobody denies it -- but, puzzled and befuddled, you shake your head, go eat lunch.
-- If socio-economic classes mean nothing, then the idea of class consciousness/ideology can only be meaningless too -- and the idea of class unconsciousness, ridiculous. All I can say is, consult the nearest rich or poor (i.e., non-middle class) teenager; he or she will set you straight about the importance of classes and that they perceive things differently.
-- What little you know or think about the middle class comes from ancient Greece. Aristotle argued that the middle class is the best class, that it is the center of reason and moderation, that it reconciles rich and poor and restrains their excesses: that, in short, it makes peace and stability possible. The fact that argument has endured for 2,000 years means it must have some truth. However, it is not the only truth. The middle class is also the source of irrationality, of extremism, of nihilism, of disorder, of terrorism. That opposing, disquieting truth is evident to most Americans; however, it is allowed to be seen in the mind only. That is to say: it is taboo.
What you just read are only three of numerous ideological layers that must be stripped away before you can get where you want to go. Or say you want to go...
The Source of Terrorism identifies and removes the ideological blinders so that you can see -- finally -- what James Holmes and other middle class rebel terrorists think and feel. What happened in Aurora deeply disturbs you because it forces you to choose between keeping the blinders on or taking them off. To remove them would allow you to know, but it would also discard an incredible number of time-honored and comfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, intuitions.
In the end, then, you do not want to know because the answer is something you do not want to hear.
As for Aurora, when all is said and done, you will decide exactly what you decided after the massacres at the University of Texas, Columbine and Northern Illinois University, after Ft. Hood and Santana High School. You will go on preferring not to know, for the price of knowledge is too high; it would upset you. You will go on paying yourself in the counterfeit money of your dreams -- in this case, Batman.
Because you will continue being clueless, you are condemned to make the same mistakes over and over again. Aurora could have, but will not, live up to its name."
And so, Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, this post will not change a thing. The FBI will go on seeing what is not there.
They are not the only ones.
* * *
We conclude by returning to our post´s opening quote.
Sierra Schwartz, a 20-year-old former classmate of Dkhokhar Tsarnaev, said he was just one of us Exactly, Sierra -- that´s the entire point of this post.
Sierra also noted, It´s very weird. Again, I couldn´t agree more. We have looked at what is there, and found it repugnant. It is a constellation of unconscious elements:. the potential bin Laden inside every middle class person -- me, you too Dear Reader, Sierra, members of congress. He is what matters -- not the guy with a beard on TV.
Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, Secret Service agents, all readers: you know why the Tsarnaev brothers did it. You are, however, not aware of what you know. I hope this post will narrow the gap.
Ultimately, what is needed is sensitivity to a syndrome.
Thomas Belvedere, Ph.D.
*The same is true for the Secret Service, Homeland Security and CIA. The only difference is the latter admitted it did not know how to handle terrorists. "I asked, ´What are we going to do with these guys when we get them?´ recalled A. B. Krongard, the No. 3 official at the C.I.A. from March 2001 until 2004. I said, ´We’ve never run a prison. We don’t have the languages. We don’t have the interrogators.´" CIA, those are not the only things you lack.
**Boston isn´t the first time the FBI got lucky. Time proceeded to list "stupid mistakes" made by Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, as well as other domestic terrorists:
"After blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in April 1995, Timothy McVeigh was caught after being pulled him over for driving without a license plate, always a good way to attract police notice quickly. After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, one of the plotters tried to get back the $400 deposit he’d put down on a rented truck that had carried the bomb. He got a visit from a SWAT team and a life sentence instead."
The stupid-mistake phenomenon is easily explained. Our post of December 20, 2012:
"Carl Jung analyzed an archetype in the unconscious of all people everywhere. Blunders, gaffs, slips of the tongue, stumbles: the trickster figure causes people with even the most extraordinary awareness and abilities to say and do stupid things, to sabotage themselves. Potential presidents who get caught with their pants down or chasing maids around hotel rooms are the most celebrated cases."
In political campaigns, we activated the trickster figure in our opponents numerous times. How, then, can the trickster be activated in terrorists so that they sabotage themselves? Unfortunately, the question cannot be asked, much less be answered, unless the trickster is acknowledged, analyzed. American security forces are a long way from that recognition.
***See, for example, Alex Schmid, "The Revised Academic Consensus Definition of Terrorism," at http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/schmid-terrorism-definition Here is my criticism (go to the PDF at terrorism.mxl. wordpress.com, scroll to the bottom).
Consensus Definition -- Your definition of terrorism appears broad enough to include the American nuclear bombings of Japan, as well as the allied bombing of Dresden, under acts of terrorism. In keeping with your core criterion of "fear-generating, coercive political violence": after the Hiroshima bombing, President Truman announced, "If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth." If you wish to exclude those bombings from terrorism, your use of the word "legal" does not save the day but only postpones it: "legal" according to whom? I doubt the laws of Germany and Japan in force at the time sanctioned such bombings. If, on the other hand, you wish to include those bombings under terrorism, I disagree, for reasons given below. The fact that those bombings could remain problematic, raises this question: Does your definition cast your net too wide? Your "attributes of the concept of terrorism" suggest that is the case. For example: "The motivations to engage in terrorism cover a broad range, including redress for alleged grievances, personal or vicarious revenge, collective punishment, revolution, national liberation and the promotion of diverse ideological, political, social, national or religious causes and objectives." The all-inclusive nature of that list leads the reader to ask: what motivations are NOT included in those to engage in terrorism? Indeed, are there any? Perhaps, too broad a response is the peril of any consensus definition. Your definition correctly includes state actors as well as nonpolitical motives. You are ahead of your American colleagues in both regards. Those who try to exclude entire states and nonpolitical motives from terrorism usually end up including them (for an example, see Bruce Hoffman, "Inside Terrorism") directly or indirectly. The facts of the matter are simply too much to bear otherwise. There is overwhelming evidence that terrorists come primarily from middle class backgrounds. For more than 30 years, I worked on the answer to this question: is there something in the middle class milieu -- doctors and lawyers, teachers and accountants -- that creates terrorists? ... Under [my definition-- see above] , the bombings of Hiroshima, etc., do not qualify as terrorism. Why? Most immediately -- and contrary to popular belief -- the ambiguity of the bombings was retained in consciousness by Truman: "Revisionist historians condemn Truman for his allegedly unrepentant decision to drop the bomb in 1945. In fact, Truman behaved like a man most shaken by the decision. He had directed that the bomb be used 'so that military objectives are the target...and not women and children,' and he was considerably disturbed when he learned that most of those killed at Hiroshima were civilians. The day after Nagasaki he ordered that further atomic bombing be stopped. He told his cabinet, as Henry Wallace recorded in his diary, that the thought of wiping out another 100,000 people was too horrible. He didn't like the idea of killing, as he said, 'all those kids.'"(Arthur Schlesinger, "The Cycles of American History," Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999, p. 398). Thomas Belvedere, Ph.D.
****For my criticisms of the FBI and State Department definitions, click here. Particularly inadequate, as well as distressing in terms of its totalitarian implications, is the following definition in the controversial USA/Patriot Act, HR 3162, Section 802:
(5) the term ‘domestic terrorism’ means activities that--
1 ‘‘(A) involve acts dangerous to human life
2 that are a violation of the criminal laws of the
3 United States or of any State;
4 ‘‘(B) appear to be intended--
5 ‘‘(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian
7 ‘‘(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
9 ‘‘(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
12 ‘‘(C) occur primarily within the territorial
13 jurisdiction of the United States.
Appear to be intended. What it boils down to, Senator Feinstein and Representative McCaul: you cannot deny in good faith that anybody -- including you -- might be a terrorist. Here we enter the phony, pseudo-legal territory of a clear and present omen. To wit: What is meant by appear? What is meant by intended? Guess who gets to make the final interpretation of those words and, hence, the final decision.
Any definition which is applicable to everybody is incapable of making meaningful distinctions. It has zero explanatory power and should be discarded.
*****A Los Angeles Times report: "Anzor, who had held a prestigious job as investigator for the prosecutor's office in Kyrgyzstan, scrambled to start life anew in America. He found work at garages, or repaired cars outside the house for $10 an hour. Zubeidat, who wore stylish dresses and high heels, went to cosmetology school and got a job giving facials to women at a salon."
******Wikipedia´s summary account:
"Tamerlan was born in the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1986, and Dzhokhar was born in Kyrgyzstan in 1993. Their father Anzor Tsarnaev is a Chechen and their mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva is an Avar. The Tsarnaevs also have two daughters. The brothers were born into a nominally Muslim family. Their father was a traditional Muslim who reportedly shunned religious extremism. As children, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar lived in Tokmok in Kyrgyzstan. In 2001, the family moved to Makhachkala, Dagestan, in the Russian Federation.
In April 2002, the Tsarnaev parents and Dzhokhar went to the United States on a 90-day tourist visa, and the father applied for asylum, citing fears of deadly persecution due to his ties to Chechnya. Tamerlan arrived on his own around 2004. In the U.S. the parents received asylum and then filed for their four children, who were given ´derivative asylum status.´ In March 2007, the family was granted legal permanent residence in the U.S..