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22 Apr, 2013 16:17

‘Political groups in Washington downplayed Chechen threat’

‘Political groups in Washington downplayed Chechen threat’

The US authorities seem to have been short-sighted assessing the threat posed by North Caucasus terrorist groups, political expert John Laughland told RT.

The director of studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation also believes that Washington has intentionally portrayed some of the international terrorist groups as freedom fighters could set a wrong example to young Americans.

RT:There's been talk of a Chechen connection in this case - but both brothers had lived in the U.S. for almost a decade - could they have been radicalized while living in America?

John Laughland: It seems definitely to be the case. I would stress that one of the suspects is dead and the other one can’t speak, so I think we need to be a little careful before accepting at face value the narrative of the Boston police, which of course is under massive pressure to find the guilty person. And we need to bear in mind that the American justice system, like everyone else’s system in the world, is based on the presumption of innocence. But if the police narrative is correct then yes, they have become radicalized not only while on American soil, but also while under at least some kind of surveillance by the FBI. The journalist’s comment now is pointing on negligence on the part of the FBI.

RT:In 2004, US authorities granted asylum to Chechen extremist, Ilyas Akhmedov, despite warnings from Russia. Why has the US failed to recognize the threat posed by North Caucasus terrorist groups?

JL: I don’t know. The question now is was it incompetent. That’s the primary line of questioning in the media. I’m afraid there might be another line of questioning. I don’t want to put forward any suggestions for which I have no basis. But I’m afraid in the history of the world there are examples of countries tolerating or encouraging terrorist attacks on their own territory for political reasons. I repeat I have no proof at all that this is the case in this example, but history unfortunately does give us precedents for such cynical activity. And the fact is, that whatever the truth is about these brothers there has been a long history of American particularly neo-conservative friendship towards and support for the Chechen rebels in general at the time of the Beslan massacre, for example, the blame on the American media was put exclusively on Russia – not on the Chechens themselves.

RT:Do you think that at the end of the day the US has failed to recognize the threat posed by the North Caucasus terrorist groups?

JL: I definitely think that. It’s absolutely certain that political groups in Washington have downplayed the Chechen threat. And they have instead portrayed them more or less as freedom fighters. The suggestion I’m putting to you now is that their maybe even more than that to it. It can be to the advantage of certain powers that a terrorist attack be committed on American soil. And I think that line of questioning at least should be opened at the moment until we have further information. 

RT:The U.S. has shown staunch support for rebel groups in Syria and in Libya, even portraying them in a romanticized light - doesn't this send the wrong signals to young Americans?

JL: Undoubtedly, as you’ve suggested in your question. The rebels in Syria, who are overwhelmingly Islamists are themselves being portrayed as democracy freedom fighters in the western media. That is going to give a bad massage and it is going to encourage certain people to be radicalized. I can’t help raising in my mind the question of whether there is not a more domestic motive for this, because after all in the case of Syria there is a network, an armed force of rebels. In this case it seems that the attack was not part of any larger armed uprising. There is no armed insurrection in Boston. In that sense the attack is senseless. It only makes sense or might be considered to make sense as a pretext for further clampdowns on civil liberties in America and for further war supposedly against Islamists abroad.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.