‘FBI incompetent to ignore Russia's warning over Chechen brothers’
“You had two people flagged up by Russia, you spent billions of dollars on anti-terrorism. How then did two guys get under the radar after they were pointed out? … The US authorities have something to answer for. It’s not like the brothers were not known to the FBI, they were known,” Baig said.
He adds that it may have also been that the US authorities thought that the Tsarnaevs were only a threat to Russia, not the US.
“I think that it could be looked at a number of levels. It could be gross incompetence of the FBI, just not paying attention to this and not taking the threat seriously. Or it could have been they thought that these guys are not a threat to the US, they are a treat to Russia. “
RT: How would you explain this switch in how Chechen fundamentalists are described?
Assed Baig: The switch is quite normal for the US. They’ve done it throughout history. For example in Afghanistan, those who were fighting against the Soviet occupation of the country were seen as freedom fighters, now the same people are called terrorists. This fits in with the US agenda. Anyone that the US backs in their war, in the US agenda, they are considered freedom fighters. And anyone who is against the US is seen as terrorists, or fundamentalists…
RT: In 2004, U.S. authorities granted asylum to Chechen extremist, Ilyas Akhmedov, despite warnings from Russia - why was the U.S. so reticent in recognizing the North Caucasus terrorist threat?
AB: I don’t know the individuals particularly, so I cant say whether they are extremists or not. If you look at the US policy generally, they are happy to grant asylum to anyone who fits in their agenda. So let’s look at Cuban dissidents, for example. Anyone who committed terrorist attacks in Cuba, or against a Cuban regime they are welcomed in the US, mainly living in Miami. They are not questioned and granted asylum. Russia and America have not had a great relationship! So what happened in Chechnya and the Caucasus there is seen as Russia’s problem. As long as people were against Russia that was ok with the US.
RT: Russia reportedly got in touch with the U.S. in 2011 warning that the older Tsarnaev brother had radical Islamist links, but the FBI found nothing suspicious. How could that happen?
AB: Let me put it this way. If the Syrian government got in contact with America and said ‘look, there are Syrians in your country that we think are radical extremists’, would the FBI take it seriously? I think that it could be looked at a number of levels. It could be gross incompetence of the FBI, just not paying attention to this and not taking the threat seriously. Or it could have been they thought that these guys are not a threat to the US, they are a threat to Russia.
RT: But how is it possible that attacks like this happened in a nation that spends billions on its national security?
AB: The answers may come out in the coming weeks or months. It could be gross incompetence or not taking the threat seriously and again it could be not understanding it. There are many different groups in Chechnya. There is no way to justify anything that Russia, human rights abuses or not…But you had two people flagged up by Russia, you spent billions of dollars on anti-terrorism. How then did two guys didn’t get under the radar after they were pointed out?! People are coming up with theories, its not my job to say which one’s right or not. But the US authorities have something to answer for. Its not like the brothers were not know to the FBI, they were known.