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Fee, Fi . . . Ho, Hum: The Usual Suspect Elements Come into Focus in The Boston Marathon Bombing (“How Many Lies Can You Allow Yourself to Believe before You Belong to the Lie?”)

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

NB: Updated on 4/26/2013, 8/5/2013, 8/6/2013.

COMMENT: Political comedian Mort Sahl (who worked for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison) asked in his autobiography; “How many lies can you allow yourself to believe before you belong to the lie?”

With all that is unfolding in the U.S. and around the world, we find ourselves [curiously] only marginally interested in the Boston investigation. Furthermore, we feel an unpleasant lack of concern with the incident or, frankly,  the victims. Reference the Mort Sahl quote above.

At some point, people, you either take care of business or business will take care of you.

In a previous post, we highlighted some of the considerations to be weighed in evaluating the Boston Marathon bombing. After an initial report of the arrest of a Saudi national (reported to us by R. Wilson), we are told–rightly or wrongly–that he is considered a witness not a suspect.

Sure enough, the elements we cited in the above-linked post are coming into view, highlighted in the stories linked and excerpted below (tip of the hat to “Pterrafractyl” (be sure to check out the Ptech links and links to the first World Trade Center attack in the links at the bottom of his 4/26/2013 comment on this post):

  • The Boston bombing suspects’ uncle appears to have worked both for AID (a frequent intelligence cover) and for a subsidiary of Halliburton–Dick Cheney’s old company.
  • They worshipped at a Muslim Brotherhood-connected mosque in Boston that was once administered by Abdurahman Alamoudi–a protege of Grover Norquist and among the focal points of the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002. Norquist’s protege Alamoudi proved to be a senior financier of Al Qaeda. The mosque had numerous links to terrorist incidents over the years.
  • Both the FBI and CIA, as well as the Russian authorities had investigated Tamerlan before. As noted by Dave Gaubatz, U.S. law enforcement has relied on the Brotherhood and its front organizations such as the Muslim American Society.
  • If the comatose American people and our somnambulent press corps had taken care of business with regard to the Operation Green Quest raids, we wouldn’t be in this position.
  • The al-Taqwa/Operation Green Quest milieu heavily overlaps individuals and institutions involved in training chaplains for both prison populations and the military. With that kind of ideologized preaching finding its way into those milieux, we should not be surprised at a recurrence of “lone wolf” jihadis, similar to and–perhaps–overlapping the “leaderless resistance” tactic long pursued by neo-Nazi and fascist elements.
  • A major focal point of Chechnyan jihadism is in Boston, evolved from the Al Kifah organization, renamed CARE (not to be confused with the UN charity.) That milieu is inextricably linked with the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
  • In turn, some of the Al Kifah/CARE operatives pursued by the government were employees of the PTech corporation, that developed critical software for numerous federal agencies with jurisdiction in the 9/11/21001 attacks.
  • As discussed in FTR #467, PTech is inextricably linked with the overlapping milieux of Operation Green Quest and the Bank al-Taqwa.
  • In an update to this original post, we note that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in possession of white-supremacist, far right-wing literature and was apparently influenced by it. We have seen collaboration between white supremacists/neo-Nazis and Islamists before. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Further reportage on Tsarnaev’s Nazi/white supremacy links reveals that among the influences on him was “The American Free Press,” published by Willis Carto. Carto is best known as the editor of The Spotlight, a neo-Nazi newspaper that achieved considerable circulation. Carto is alleged to have been the ghostwrite for Eddie the Friendly Spook’s Presidential candidate of choice Ron Paul. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Note, also, the apparent influence of the “Zeitgeist” film on Tsarnaev. A fascist “Truther” film, it is filled with Jewish banker conspiracy theories and exemplifies the sort of fascist ideology that has influenced the so-called Truther movement. Jared Lee Laughner also appears to have been influenced by the film.

 “Was Boston Bombers ‘Uncle Ruslan’ with the CIA?” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 4/22/2013.

EXCERPT: The uncle of the two men who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon, who struck the only grace note in an otherwise horrific week, worked as a “consultant” for the Agency for International Development (USAID) a U.S. Government Agency often used for cover by agents of the CIA, in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan during the “Wild West” days of the early 1990’s, when anything that wasn’t nailed down in that country was up for grabs. . . .

. . . . The purchase of the Prince’s [Andrew of Great Britain] estate was put together, according to prosecutors in Italy and Switzerland, by a group of oil executives who comprise “a network of personal and business relationships” allegedly used for “international corruption,” reported The London Telegraph.

Tsarni, called “a US lawyer who has had dealings in Kazakh business affairs,” by the Sunday Times, clearly appears to be a member of that network.
The Sunday Times reported, “A statement by Ruslan Zaindi Tsarni was given in the High Court in December, claiming that Kulibayev bought Sunninghill and properties in Mayfair with $96 million derived from a complex series of deals intended to disguise money laundering.”

“Tsarni alleged that the money came from the takeover of a western company, which had been used as a front to obtain oil contracts from the Kazakh state.”

The “western company” used to launder the money which the Sunday Times referred to is Big Sky Energy Corporation, where Ruslan Tsarni was a top executive.

Big Sky, which used to be known as China Energy Ventures Corp, is a now-bankrupt US oil company run by S.A. (Al) Sehsuvaroglu, a long-time executive of Halliburton, which had oil leases in Kakakhstan’s Caspian Basin.

Tsarni was Big Sky’s Corporate Secretary and Vice President for Business Development. He joined Big Sky in 2005. . . .

“Count­down with Keith Olber­man” for Oct. 23; MSNBC News; 10/23/2003.

EXCERPT: JOHN LOFTUS: Well, you know, it’s a funny story. About a year-and-a half ago, peo­ple in the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity came and said-guys like Alam­oudi and Sami al-Arian and other ter­ror­ists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to inves­ti­gate the cases, not to pros­e­cute them, because they were being funded by the Saudis and a polit­i­cal deci­sion was being made at the high­est lev­els, don’t do any­thing that would embar­rass the Saudi gov­ern­ment. So, of course I imme­di­ately vol­un­teered to do it and I filed a law­suit, against al-Arian charg­ing him with being a major ter­ror­ist for Islamic Jihad; most of his money came from Saudi char­i­ties in Virginia.

Now, Alamoudi’s head­quar­ters were in the same place, he was raided the same day, on March 20. An hour after I filed my law­suit, the U.S. gov­ern­ment finally got off its butt and they raided these offices. And, the stuff that they’re tak­ing out of there now is absolutely hor­ren­dous. Al-Arian has now, finally been indicted, along with Alam­oudi, today. But, who ws it that fixed the cases? How could these guys oper­ate for more than a decade immune from pros­e­cu­tion? And, the answer is com­ing out in a very strange place. What Alam­oudi and al-Arian have in com­mon is a guy named Grover Norquist. He’s the super lob­by­ist. Newt Gingrich’s guy, the one the NRA calls on, head of Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers. He is the guy that was hired by Alam­oudi to head up the Islamic insti­tute and he’s the reg­is­tered agent for Alam­oudi, per­son­ally, and for the Islamic Institute.

Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and appar­ently Norquist was able to fix things. He got extreme right wing Mus­lim peo­ple to be the gate­keep­ers in the White House. That’s why mod­er­ate [Mus­lim] Amer­i­cans couldn’t speak out after 9/11. Mod­er­ate Mus­lims couldn’t get into the White House because Norquist’s friends were block­ing their access. . . . .

“Mosque that Boston Sus­pects Attended has Rad­i­cal Ties” by Oren Dorell; USA Today; 4/23/2013.

EXCERPT: The mosque attended by the two broth­ers accused in the Boston Marathon bomb­ing has been asso­ci­ated with other ter­ror­ist sus­pects, has invited rad­i­cal speak­ers to a sis­ter mosque in Boston and is affil­i­ated with a Mus­lim group that crit­ics say nurses griev­ances that can lead to extremism.

Sev­eral peo­ple who attended the Islamic Soci­ety of Boston mosque in Cam­bridge, Mass., have been inves­ti­gated for Islamic ter­ror­ism, includ­ing a con­vic­tion of the mosque’s first pres­i­dent, Abdul­rah­man Alam­oudi, in con­nec­tion with an assas­si­na­tion plot against a Saudi prince.

And its sis­ter mosque in Boston, known as the Islamic Soci­ety of Boston Cul­tural Cen­ter, has invited guests who have defended ter­ror sus­pects. A for­mer trustee appears in a series of videos in which he advo­cates treat­ing gays as crim­i­nals, says hus­bands should some­times beat their wives and calls on Allah (God) to kill Zion­ists and Jews, accord­ing to Amer­i­cans for Peace and Tol­er­ance, an inter­faith group that has inves­ti­gated the mosques.

The head of the group is among crit­ics who say the mosques teach a brand of Islamic thought that encour­ages griev­ances against the West, dis­trust of law enforce­ment and oppo­si­tion to West­ern forms of gov­ern­ment, dress and social values.

“We don’t know where these boys were rad­i­cal­ized,” says the head of the group, Charles Jacobs. “But this mosque has a cur­ricu­lum that rad­i­cal­izes peo­ple. Other peo­ple have been rad­i­cal­ized there.”

Yusufi Vali, exec­u­tive direc­tor at the Islamic Soci­ety of Boston Cul­tural Cen­ter, insists his mosque does not spread rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy and can­not be blamed for the acts of a few worshipers.

“If there were really any worry about us being extreme,” Vali said, U.S. law enforce­ment agen­cies such as the FBI and Depart­ments of Jus­tice and Home­land Secu­rity would not part­ner with the Mus­lim Amer­i­can Soci­ety and the Boston mosque in con­duct­ing monthly meet­ings that have been ongo­ing for four years, he said, in an appar­ent ref­er­ence to U.S. gov­ern­ment out­reach pro­grams in the Mus­lim community.

The Cam­bridge and Boston mosques, sep­a­rated by the Charles River, are owned by the same entity but man­aged indi­vid­u­ally. The imam of the Cam­bridge mosque, Sheik Basy­ouny Nehela, is on the board of direc­tors of the Boston mosque.

Dzhokhar Tsar­naev and his brother, Tamer­lan Tsar­naev, attended the Cam­bridge mosque for ser­vices and are accused of set­ting two bombs that killed three peo­ple and injured at least 264 oth­ers at the April 15 Boston Marathon.

The FBI has not indi­cated that either mosque was involved in any crim­i­nal activ­ity. But mosque atten­dees and offi­cials have been impli­cated in ter­ror­ist activity.

• Abdul­rah­man Alam­oudi, who signed the arti­cles of incor­po­ra­tion as the Cam­bridge mosque’s pres­i­dent, was sen­tenced to 23 years in fed­eral court in Alexan­dria, Va., in 2004 for his role as a facil­i­ta­tor in what fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors called a Libyan assas­si­na­tion plot against then-Saudi crown prince Abdul­lah. Abdul­lah is now the Saudi king.

• Aafia Sid­diqui, who occa­sion­ally prayed at the Cam­bridge mosque, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 while in pos­ses­sion of cyanide can­is­ters and plans for a chem­i­cal attack in New York City. She tried to grab a rifle while in deten­tion and shot at mil­i­tary offi­cers and FBI agents, for which she was con­victed in New York in 2010 and is serv­ing an 86-year sentence.

• Tarek Mehanna, who wor­shiped at the Cam­bridge mosque, was sen­tenced in 2012 to 17 years in prison for con­spir­ing to aid al-Qaeda. Mehanna had trav­eled to Yemen to seek ter­ror­ist train­ing and plot­ted to use auto­matic weapons to shoot up a mall in the Boston sub­urbs, fed­eral inves­ti­ga­tors in Boston alleged.

• Ahmad Abousamra, the son of a for­mer vice pres­i­dent of the Mus­lim Amer­i­can Soci­ety Boston Abdul-Badi Abousamra, was iden­ti­fied by the FBI as Mehanna’s co-conspirator. He fled to Syria and is wanted by the FBI on charges of pro­vid­ing sup­port to ter­ror­ists and con­spir­acy to kill Amer­i­cans in a for­eign country.

• Jamal Badawi of Canada, a for­mer trustee of the Islamic Soci­ety of Boston Trust, which owns both mosques, was named as a non-indicted co-conspirator in the 2007 Holy Land Foun­da­tion ter­ror­ism trial in Texas over the fun­nel­ing of money to Hamas, which is the Pales­tin­ian wing of the Mus­lim Brotherhood.

What both mosques have in com­mon is an affil­i­a­tion with the Mus­lim Amer­i­can Soci­ety, an orga­ni­za­tion founded in 1993 that describes itself as an Amer­i­can Islamic revival move­ment. It has also been described by fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in court as the “overt arm” of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which calls for Islamic law and is the par­ent orga­ni­za­tion of Hamas, a U.S.-designated ter­ror group. . . .

. . . . The lead­er­ship of the two mosques is inter­twined and the ide­ol­ogy they teach is the same, Jacobs says. Ilya Feok­tis­tov, direc­tor of research at Amer­i­cans for Peace and Tol­er­ance, says much of the money to cre­ate the Boston mosque came not from local Mus­lims but from for­eign sources.

More than half of the $15.5 mil­lion used to found the Boston mosque came from Saudi sources, Feok­tis­tov said, who cites finan­cial doc­u­ments that Jacobs’ group obtained when the mosque sued it for defama­tion. The law­suit was later dropped. . . .

“CIA Sought to Have Boston Bomb­ing Sus­pect put on Ter­ror­ist Watch List” by Greg Miller and Sari Hor­witz; Washington Post; 4/24/2013.

EXCERPT: The CIA asked the main U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism agency to add the name of one of the sus­pected Boston Marathon bombers to a watch list more than a year before the attack, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials.

The agency took the step after Russ­ian author­i­ties con­tacted offi­cials there in the fall of 2011 and raised con­cerns that Tamer­lan Tsar­naev — who was killed last week in a con­fronta­tion with police — was seen as an increas­ingly rad­i­cal Islamist and could be plan­ning to travel over­seas. The CIA requested that his name be put on a data­base main­tained by the National Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Cen­ter.

That data­base, the Ter­ror­ist Iden­ti­ties Data­mart Envi­ron­ment, or TIDE, is a data store­house that feeds a series of gov­ern­ment watch lists, includ­ing the FBI’s main Ter­ror­ist Screen­ing Data­base and the Trans­porta­tion Secu­rity Administration’s “no-fly” list.

Offi­cials said Tsarnaev’s name was added to the data­base but it’s unclear which agency added it.

The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a pre­lim­i­nary inquiry into Tsar­naev after get­ting a sim­i­lar inquiry about him from Russ­ian state secu­rity, accord­ing to offi­cials, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the matter.

Law enforce­ment offi­cials said that the request to the FBI in 2011 orig­i­nated from fears by the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment that Tamer­lan was a threat to Rus­sia and would com­mit a ter­ror­ist act in Rus­sia — not the United States. The request came from Russ­ian fed­eral police to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

“There was a con­cern he might have some kind of ties to ter­ror­ism,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bres­son. “We did every­thing legally that we could do with the lit­tle bit of infor­ma­tion we had. After we did, we found no deroga­tory information.” . . . .

“Boston’s Jihadist Past” by J.M. Berger; Foreign Policy; 4/22/2013.

EXCERPT: When Boston Marathon run­ners rounded the bend from Bea­con Street last week, they were in the home stretch of the race. As they poured through the closed inter­sec­tion, they ran past a non­de­script address: 510 Com­mon­wealth Avenue.

The loca­tion was once home to an inter­na­tional sup­port net­work that raised funds and recruited fight­ers for a jihadist insur­gency against Russ­ian rule over Chech­nya, a region and a con­flict that few of the run­ners had likely ever given any seri­ous thought. . . .

. . . . (The most impor­tant Chechen jihadist group has dis­avowed the attack, but has not unequiv­o­cally ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity of some kind of con­tact with Tamer­lan.) . . .

. . . But if the lead pans out, it won’t be Boston’s first brush with that far­away war. Dur­ing the 1980s and into the 1990s, Islamist for­eign fight­ers oper­ated robust recruit­ing and financ­ing net­works that sup­ported Chechen jihadists from the United States, and Boston was home to one of the most sig­nif­i­cant cen­ters: a branch of the Al Kifah Cen­ter based in Brook­lyn, which would later be rechris­tened CARE International.

Al Kifah sprang from the mil­i­tary jihad against the Sovi­ets in Afghanistan. Through the end of the occu­pa­tion, a net­work of cen­ters in the United States helped sup­port the efforts of Afghan and Arab muja­hedeen, solic­it­ing dona­tions and recruit­ing fight­ers, includ­ing at least four from Boston who died in action (one of them a for­mer Dunkin Donuts employee). When the war ended, those net­works did not dis­ap­pear; they refo­cused on other activities.

In Brook­lyn, that net­work turned against the United States. The center’s lead­ers and many of its mem­bers helped facil­i­tate the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing, and they actively planned and attempted to exe­cute a sub­se­quent plot that sum­mer to blow up the Lin­coln and Hol­land Tun­nels in New York, which would have killed thousands. . . .

. . . . When the FBI thwarted the tun­nels plot, the Brook­lyn Al Kifah office and most of the other satel­lite loca­tions were shut­tered. But in Boston, the work con­tin­ued under a new name and with a new focus: sup­port­ing foreign-fighter efforts in Bosnia and Chechnya.

The fol­low­ing nar­ra­tive is derived from inter­views and thou­sands of pages of court exhibits, includ­ing cor­re­spon­dence, Al Kifah and CARE Inter­na­tional pub­li­ca­tions, and tele­phone inter­cepts devel­oped over a years-long series of FBI inves­ti­ga­tions into the char­ity that were made pub­lic as part of mul­ti­ple terrorism-related prosecutions.

Estab­lished in the early 1990s, the Boston branch had emerged from the World Trade Cen­ter inves­ti­ga­tion rel­a­tively unscathed. Lit­tle more than two weeks after the bomb­ing, the head of the Boston office, Emad Muntasser, changed his operation’s name from Al Kifah to CARE Inter­na­tional (not to be con­fused with the legit­i­mate char­ity of the same name). . . .

. . . . It took longer to build a case against CARE. In 2005, pros­e­cu­tors in Boston went after the charity’s direc­tors using the Al Capone strat­egy. Muntasser and fel­low Boston-area CARE offi­cials Samir Al Monla and Muhamed Mubayyid were charged with fil­ing false tax returns and related crimes, hav­ing mis­rep­re­sented their polit­i­cal and mil­i­tant activ­ity as relief for orphans and wid­ows in order to obtain a non­profit tax exemption.

The strat­egy was not as suc­cess­ful as it was with Capone. The defen­dants were con­victed but received min­i­mal sen­tences after years of appeals and legal dis­putes. Muntasser and Al Monla have since been released from prison and are liv­ing in the United States, accord­ing to pub­lic records data­bases. Mubayyid was deported after a short sen­tence and was last reported to be liv­ing in Australia. . . .

“US Says Firm Hid Terrorist Saudi Backer: Shrewsbury Man Worked at P-Tech” by Lee Hammel; Worcester Telegram and Gazette; 7/19/2009.

EXCERPT . . . . He was convicted Jan. 11, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Boston after the Justice Department alleged that he and two other officers of Care International — both former Worcester residents — had illegally concealed from the government that the charity supported the worldwide Holy War and the mujahedin who fight it.

Mr. Mubayyid, 44, was sentenced to 11 months in prison and fined $1,000 on charges of concealing material facts from the government, obstructing the Internal Revenue Service, and three counts of filing a false tax return.

Mr. Mubayyid has since been deported to Australia, where he had previously lived, according to his lawyer, Michael C. Andrews of Boston, who said that Mr. Mubayyid’s appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals is pending.

The U.S. Attorney is appealing the decision of Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to reverse jury convictions of Mr. Mubayyid’s codefendants—all of the charges against Samir Al-Monla of Brookline and some of the charges against Emadeddin Z. Muntasser of Braintree, the two former Worcester residents who were former presidents of Care International. Mr. Muntasser, a founder of Care International, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $10,000 for lying to an FBI agent. . . .

“Tamer­lan Tsar­naev Had Right-wing Extrem­ist Lit­er­a­ture” by Hilary Ander­s­son;  BBC News; 8/5/2013.

EXCERPT:  One of the broth­ers sus­pected of car­ry­ing out the Boston bomb­ings was in pos­ses­sion of right-wing Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture in the run-up to the attack, BBC Panorama has learnt.

Tamer­lan Tsar­naev sub­scribed to pub­li­ca­tions espous­ing white supremacy and gov­ern­ment con­spir­acy theories.

He also had read­ing mate­r­ial on mass killings.

Until now the Tsar­naev broth­ers were widely per­ceived as just self-styled rad­i­cal jihadists.

Panorama has spent months speak­ing exclu­sively with friends of the bombers to try to under­stand the roots of their radicalisation.

‘Gov­ern­ment conspiracies’

The pro­gramme dis­cov­ered that Tamer­lan Tsar­naev pos­sessed arti­cles which argued that both 9/11 and the 1995 Okla­homa City bomb­ing were gov­ern­ment conspiracies.

Another in his pos­ses­sion was about “the rape of our gun rights”.

Read­ing mate­r­ial he had about white supremacy com­mented that “Hitler had a point”.

Tamer­lan Tsar­naev also had lit­er­a­ture which explored what moti­vated mass killings and noted how the per­pe­tra­tors mur­dered and maimed calmly.

There was also mate­r­ial about US drones killing civil­ians, and about the plight of those still impris­oned in Guan­tanamo Bay. . . .

“Boston Bomb­ing Sus­pect Was Steeped in Con­spir­a­cies” by Allan Cullison; The Wall Street Journal; 8/6/2013.

EXCERPT: Extremist U.S. news­pa­pers and other pub­li­ca­tions found in the apart­ment of Boston Marathon bomb­ing sus­pect Tamer­lan Tsar­naev reveal a broad inter­est in far-flung con­spir­acy the­o­ries, well beyond the Islamist rad­i­cal­ism author­i­ties allege moti­vated the attack.

Mr. Tsar­naev dis­cov­ered some of the rad­i­cal pub­li­ca­tions by chance. He had worked car­ing for a 67-year-old man who passed on the news­pa­pers and his fringe beliefs long before Mr. Tsar­naev and his brother allegedly set off explo­sives that killed three peo­ple and injured hun­dreds more. . . .

. . . .

Mr. Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubei­dat Tsar­naev, had tried to make ends meet for her fam­ily by work­ing as a home health aide after the fam­ily arrived in the U.S. in 2003. One of her clients in 2010 was Don­ald Lark­ing of New­ton, Mass., who was dis­abled after he was shot in the face nearly 40 years ago in the rob­bery of a con­ve­nience store where he worked.

Mr. Lark­ing mirac­u­lously sur­vived, but peo­ple close to the fam­ily said his fac­ul­ties didn’t. He was intrigued with far-flung con­spir­a­cies, they said. He sub­scribed to news­pa­pers and jour­nals that doubted the Holo­caust and described the attacks of Sept. 11, Okla­homa City and the New­town school as plots by unseen elites, and the U.S. and Israeli governments. . . .

. . . .  The papers included The First Free­dom, an Alabama-based news­pa­per that espouses “equal rights for whites” and whose web­sites fea­tures a Con­fed­er­ate flag. Another was The Sov­er­eign, a New York-based pub­li­ca­tion that alleges the U.S. is under the sway of Israeli lob­by­ists, and that Israel and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity were “deeply involved” in the Boston bomb­ings. Nei­ther paper returned requests for comment.

Mr. Tsar­naev got his own sub­scrip­tion to Amer­i­can Free Press, a paper that the South­ern Law Poverty Cen­ter said pro­motes anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries. A spokes­woman for the paper denied it had such an agenda, say­ing the paper pub­lishes “news that the estab­lished media won’t.” She con­firmed that some­one bought Mr. Tsar­naev a “get acquainted” 16-week sub­scrip­tion in Decem­ber. It expired in April, at about the time of the Boston Marathon attack. . . .

. . . . His for­mer brother-in-law, Elmzira Khozhugov, said Mr. Tsar­naev in 2008 was seek­ing out a copy of the Pro­to­cols. That year he took a sharp turn toward Islam, drop­ping his box­ing career and telling friends and fam­ily that it was un-Islamic to punch any­one in the face, fam­ily and friends said.

Mr. Khozhugov recalled how that year Mr. Tsar­naev vis­ited him at col­lege in Wash­ing­ton state and they spent a week together. They watched the movie “Zeit­geist,” which called the Sept. 11 attacks a plot of power-hungry elites against the U.S.

Mr. Tsar­naev was inter­ested in the so-called techno-utopian Zeit­geist move­ment, whose adher­ents believe in the com­ing col­lapse of money-based soci­ety and the advan­tages of an econ­omy man­aged by com­put­ers inca­pable of corruption. . . .


12 comments for “Fee, Fi . . . Ho, Hum: The Usual Suspect Elements Come into Focus in The Boston Marathon Bombing (“How Many Lies Can You Allow Yourself to Believe before You Belong to the Lie?”)”

  1. I think it’s worth keeping the book open on the Russian angle also.
    In the previous post comment we linked to an article describing one cell of a Russian spy ring operating out of Boston, which may or may not figure in.

    Here are excerpts from an article in “Foreign Affairs” (I know, I know), but it makes some very good points:


    Not Your Average Chechen Jihadis
    Drawing the Wrong Conclusions About the Boston Bombing
    Charles King
    April 21, 2013


    “Observers have already pointed out two elements of the brothers’ story that investigators will no doubt pursue: Tamerlan’s being visited by U.S. law enforcement officers in 2011 on a tip from an “unnamed” foreign government and his six-month visit to Russia, including to his father’s home in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, in 2012.”
    “So far, however, there is no direct information linking the North Caucasus to the attack in Boston; armed groups in the region, including the Dagestani branch of the so-called Caucasus Emirate — the jihadist network in the North Caucasus headed by Chechen warlord Doku Umarov — issued a formal statement denying any connection to the Tsarnaev brothers. The jihadists claimed instead that the brothers were pawns in an elaborate attempt by Russian security services to turn American opinion against the North Caucasus underground and against Muslims more generally. That might be far-fetched, but it would hardly be the line of argument the Emirate would pursue if it were suddenly using American operatives to expand attacks outside of Russia. The logical thing would have been for the Emirate to claim responsibility.”
    “It may yet emerge that Tamerlan did, in fact, have some link to the North Caucasus jihadist scene, but even if he did, it would still do little to explain the involvement of his younger brother, Dzhokhar, who seems to have been as deeply American as Lee Boyd Malvo, the younger shooter in the Washington sniper attacks of 2002. Nor would it likely have any real impact on U.S.-Russian relations, other than convincing some American policymakers of the point that their Russian counterparts take for granted: that people from the North Caucasus, by their very presence, are somehow a security threat. That will be especially important in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics in 2014, when Moscow will be especially security-obsessed and will want to deepen its already tough surveillance of religious Muslims, especially young men, in the North Caucasus. The United States, convinced of the threat, will likely look the other way when it comes to ongoing human rights abuses in the region.”
    “In the long term, the Chechnya link will probably end up being less important than, oddly, the Syrian one. In blocking further international involvement in the Syrian crisis, Russian officials have long maintained that Syrian rebel groups are dominated by al Qaeda affiliates, whose victory in the Syrian civil war will have dire consequences for the region and beyond. Now, Russians have already begun to portray the Tsarnaevs as an unlikely link between Boston and Damascus. There are somewhere “between 600 and 6,000” Chechens from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria, said Kotliar in a recent interview with Russian media, “and from what happened in Boston, perhaps Americans will finally draw the lesson that there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists, no ‘ours’ and ‘yours.’” Keep arming the Syrian rebels, the argument goes, and sooner or later you will have to face the consequences of a Syria overtaken by Islamist radicals.”

    Here we have Russian motivation to ease criticism of their crackdown on Chechnya before the 2014 Olympics.
    Also refering to the Syrian conflict being an element, the Russian official Kotliar suggests the U.S. arming of Syrian rebels could bring Blowback (as he points to Boston).
    This is also what Sibel Edmonds refered to in the last thread on this subject.

    I do not know how tightly the Russian oil industry is wrapped, or how much western involvement is allowed. Perhaps there could exist some collusion between western industrialists, Russian oligarchs and the intelligence services.
    Sounds dangerous to me.

    I’d put Syria and the Olympics at the top of the motive list.

    Posted by Swamp | April 25, 2013, 7:32 am
  2. It turns out Suspect #2 exchanged gunfire from the boat with police for more than an hour without a gun. That’s kind of impressive:

    Officials: Boston Bombing Suspect Was Unarmed When Arrested
    ADAM GOLDMAN and PETE YOST April 25, 2013, 9:28 AM

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Two U.S. officials say the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings was unarmed when police captured him hiding inside a boat in a neighborhood back yard.

    Authorities originally said they had exchanged gunfire with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-KHAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) for more than one hour Friday evening before they were able to subdue him.

    The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation, say investigators recovered a 9 mm handgun believed to have been used by Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, from the site of a gun battle Thursday night, which injured a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer. Dzhokhar was believed to have been shot before he escaped.

    The officials tell The Associated Press that no gun was found in the boat. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 25, 2013, 7:41 am
  3. Hopsicker’s latest article mentions that Ruslan was in Kazakhstan working for a Halliburton tied company called Nelson Resources. Nelson was formerly a Canadian gold company. That is interesting because the aunt of the Boston bombers came to the USA in 2001 and then herself moved to Canada. That aunt claims to have played a major role in bringing the Tsarnaev brothers into the USA. Looking at what is going on in Canada, you see a similar thing where the CSIS has been allowing agent provocateurs and terrorists into the country and then using them to create conditions ripe for a police state. For whatever reason which has not yet been explained, Cambridge, MA. was where Russian spies were camping out and got busted in 2010. Some of those spies made the claim that they had come from Canada. You might also remember that it was Peter Janson’s AMEC Construction NA of Toronto Ontario that reinforced the walls on Rumsefeld’s Pentagon. Janson was also president and CEO of U.S operations for Swiss-Swedish ABB which likely had Nazi ties in the 30s. Donald Rumsfeld was a director at ABB. Rumsfeld at ABB helped sell nuke tech to North Korea in 2000.. now in 2013 N. Korea conveniently is using that tech to try and press the USA, UK, Canada into another costly war. Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley had ties to Pakistani Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Rana was given Canadian citizenship in 2001. Here is something else interesting… Headley was from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His father was a Pakistani diplomat. Remember Sunil Tripathi(he is Indian) who was recently thought by some to be the Boston bomber? He kind of looks like a Dzhokhar double in some pictures(the long hair pictures). He is claimed to have been spotted in Boston. Was then found dead in a river a couple of days ago. Oddly, he also was living in the USA in Bryn Mawr, PA for a time. What brought both Headley and Tripathi to Bryn Mawr? Reminds you of how Nick, Berg (Jewish) of Westchester PA. was following Zacarias Moussaoui (Arab) and was tied to Iraqi emigres itching for war in Iraq. One more thing.. Kim Jong Un, who is poking the USA in the ribs recently? He went to an elite school for the uber wealhty in Switzerland which was also an elite school attended by Russians and Arabs. We all know that Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and the Al-Taqwa network have used Switzerland as a safe haven. And don’t forget all of that war money made off the backs of American and western tax payers that winds up in Swiss banks. UBS of Switzerland made a mint in those bank bailouts.

    Posted by TheAmazingMammalMan | April 25, 2013, 11:08 am
  4. Here’s some chilling symbolism encapsulated in the Boston Marathon bombings: About a mile before the finish line the marathon runners passed 510 Commonwealth Avenue, the former home of the international jihadist recruitment network for the wars in Chechnya:

    Foreign Policy
    Boston’s Jihadist Past
    Long before the marathon bombing, Islamists in Massachusetts were helping militants in Chechnya.

    BY J.M. BERGER | APRIL 22, 2013

    When Boston Marathon runners rounded the bend from Beacon Street last week, they were in the home stretch of the race. As they poured through the closed intersection, they ran past a nondescript address: 510 Commonwealth Avenue.

    The location was once home to an international support network that raised funds and recruited fighters for a jihadist insurgency against Russian rule over Chechnya, a region and a conflict that few of the runners had likely ever given any serious thought.

    One mile farther, life in Boston was transformed in an act of horror that killed three and injured scores. And one week later, everyone in Boston and around the United States is thinking and talking and asking about Chechnya.

    The investigation into alleged marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still in its infancy, but a press release issued by the FBI late Friday suggested that at least one of the brothers may have had some kind of connection to Chechen Islamist militant networks, a suspicion heightened by the fact that elder brother Tamerlan spent about six months in Russia in 2012. (The most important Chechen jihadist group has disavowed the attack, but has not unequivocally ruled out the possibility of some kind of contact with Tamerlan.)

    It will take time to discover whether there was a militant connection and, if there was, to what extent it is pertinent to the Tsarnaevs’ decision to bomb the marathon.

    But if the lead pans out, it won’t be Boston’s first brush with that faraway war. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, Islamist foreign fighters operated robust recruiting and financing networks that supported Chechen jihadists from the United States, and Boston was home to one of the most significant centers: a branch of the Al Kifah Center based in Brooklyn, which would later be rechristened CARE International.

    Al Kifah sprang from the military jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Through the end of the occupation, a network of centers in the United States helped support the efforts of Afghan and Arab mujahedeen, soliciting donations and recruiting fighters, including at least four from Boston who died in action (one of them a former Dunkin Donuts employee). When the war ended, those networks did not disappear; they refocused on other activities.

    In Brooklyn, that network turned against the United States. The center’s leaders and many of its members helped facilitate the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and they actively planned and attempted to execute a subsequent plot that summer to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels in New York, which would have killed thousands.

    When the FBI thwarted the tunnels plot, the Brooklyn Al Kifah office and most of the other satellite locations were shuttered. But in Boston, the work continued under a new name and with a new focus: supporting foreign-fighter efforts in Bosnia and Chechnya.

    The following narrative is derived from interviews and thousands of pages of court exhibits, including correspondence, Al Kifah and CARE International publications, and telephone intercepts developed over a years-long series of FBI investigations into the charity that were made public as part of multiple terrorism-related prosecutions.

    Established in the early 1990s, the Boston branch had emerged from the World Trade Center investigation relatively unscathed. Little more than two weeks after the bombing, the head of the Boston office, Emad Muntasser, changed his operation’s name from Al Kifah to CARE International (not to be confused with the legitimate charity of the same name).

    Telling the IRS it was a non-political charity, CARE applied for and received a tax exemption, but its operations continued as before — supporting jihad overseas with money and men. Although it was heavily focused on the ongoing conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya, its interests reached around the globe to anywhere mujahideen were fighting. As one associate of the group put it in a phone call recorded by the FBI, “As long as there is slaughtering, we’re with them. If there’s no slaughtering, there’s none, that’s it. Buzz off.”

    Although CARE was based in Boston, the radical fundamentalists who ran the charity (a mix of American citizens and immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa) were often disappointed with local Muslims, who were not particularly interested in their cause.

    The FBI monitored CARE’s activities, off and on, for nearly a decade, but the Justice Department never made an effort to prosecute, in part because prosecuting foreign-fighter activity was difficult under existing laws.

    But after September 11, the U.S. government aggressively pursued anything relating to jihadist extremism, including several cases of foreign-fighter support. Just weeks after the attacks, the Justice Department shuttered the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation, raiding the latter’s offices in Chicago and Sarajevo, where they found extensive evidence of support for foreign fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya, as well as significant links to al Qaeda. They also found checks and receipts from CARE.

    It took longer to build a case against CARE. In 2005, prosecutors in Boston went after the charity’s directors using the Al Capone strategy. Muntasser and fellow Boston-area CARE officials Samir Al Monla and Muhamed Mubayyid were charged with filing false tax returns and related crimes, having misrepresented their political and militant activity as relief for orphans and widows in order to obtain a nonprofit tax exemption.

    The strategy was not as successful as it was with Capone. The defendants were convicted but received minimal sentences after years of appeals and legal disputes. Muntasser and Al Monla have since been released from prison and are living in the United States, according to public records databases. Mubayyid was deported after a short sentence and was last reported to be living in Australia.

    Note that Emad Muntasser and Muhamed Mubayyid, two of the fellows prosecuted and convicted with minimal sentences, didn’t just work for Al Kifah/CARE. They were also P-tech employees. Yep, THAT P-tech. There’s a lot of history flowing through this particular network in Boston.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 25, 2013, 9:10 pm
  5. @Pterrafractyl and SWAMP–

    Good work!

    Reference the two posts I’ve done on the Boston attack.

    Chechnyan jihadists supported by elements of U.S. intelligence–Check!

    Doubling on the U.S.–Check!

    Links to Grover Norquist, Yaqub Mirza, Operation Green Quest, Karl Rove, Abdurahman Alamoudi–Check!

    Overlapping links to the Muslim Brotherhood, Bank al-Taqwa milieu–Check!

    Overlapping links to the milieu of the first World Trade Center attack–Check!

    Of particular importance here is the PTech connection.

    PLEASE follow the Ptech links provided by “Pterrafractyl” in his comment on this post–it’ll help flesh out your understanding.

    It may also help you to understand the degree of ennui and frustration I feel at this event and the unsatisfactory coverage of it.

    As Edward R. Murrow once noted: “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

    The American people have only themselves to blame for getting fleeced.

    Sweet Creeping Jesus! (Present-participle expletive deleted) Ptech! Gimme a Break!


    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | April 26, 2013, 12:53 pm
  6. Hopsicker’s latest post contains quite a doozy: Uncle Ruslan was married to Graham Fuller’s daughter:

    Madcow Morning News
    Boston bombers’ uncle married daughter of top CIA official
    Posted on April 26, 2013 by Daniel Hopsicker

    The uncle of the two suspected Boston bombers in last week’s attack, Ruslan Tsarni, was married to the daughter of former top CIA official Graham Fuller

    The discovery that Uncle Ruslan Tsarni had spy connections that go far deeper than had been previously known is ironic, especially since the mainstrean media’s focus yesterday was on a feverish search to find who might have recruited the Tsarnaev brothers.

    The chief suspect was a red-haired Armenian exorcist. They were fingering a suspect who may not, in fact, even exist.

    It was like blaming one-armed hippies on acid for killing your wife.

    Ruslan Tsarni married the daughter of former top CIA Graham Fuller, who spent 20 years as operations officer in Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong. In 1982 Fuller was appointed the National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia at the CIA, and in 1986, under Ronald Reagan, he became the Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, with overall responsibility for national level strategic forecasting.

    At the time of their marriage, Ruslan Tsarni was known as Ruslan Tsarnaev, the same last name as his nephews Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged bombers.

    It is unknown when he changed his last name to Tsarni.

    What is known is that sometime in the early 1990’s, while she was a graduate student in North Carolina, and he was in law school at Duke, Ruslan Tsarnaev met and married Samantha Ankara Fuller, the daughter of Graham and Prudence Fuller of Rockville Maryland. Her middle name suggests a reference to one of her father’s CIA postings.

    The couple divorced sometime before 2004.

    Today Ms. Fuller lives abroad, and is a director of several companies pursuing strategies to increase energy production from clean-burning and renewable resources.

    On a more ominous note, Graham Fuller was listed as one of the American Deep State rogues on Sibel Edmonds’ State Secrets Privilege Gallery,. Edmonds explained it featured subjects of FBI investigations she became aware of during her time as an FBI translator.

    Criminal activities were being protected by claims of State Secrets, she asserted. After Attorney General John Ashcroft went all the way to the Supreme Court to muzzle her under a little-used doctrine of State Secrets, she put up twenty-one photos, with no names.

    One of them was Graham Fuller.

    “Congress of Chechen International” c/o Graham Fuller

    The Chechen uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, paired up with a top CIA official, who once served as CIA Station Chief in Kabul, may sound like a pitch for a bad movie:

    But they may have been in business together.

    In 1995, Tsarnaev incorporated the Congress of Chechen International Organizations in Maryland, using as the address listed on incorporation documents 11114 Whisperwood Ln, in Rockville Maryland, the home address of his then-father-in-law.

    It is just eight miles up the Washington National Pike from the Montgomery Village home where “Uncle Ruslan” met—and apparently wowed, the press after the attack in Boston.

    The Washington Post yesterday called him a “media maven,” while nationally syndicated Washington Post columnist Ester Cepeda , in a piece with the headline “The Wise Words of Uncle Ruslan” opined that he was her choice for “an award for bravery in the face of adversity.”

    Recall that Graham Fuller, the former CIA station chief in Kabul in the 80’s, was amongst those that were advocating greater US outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood back in 2004. In recent years, Fuller has publicly dismissed concerns over the Fetullah Gulen organization. If the Tsarnaev brothers were recruited to execute the bombings by some third party you really have to wonder if that party was aware of their familial ties to folks like Fuller or not. It’s reminiscent of so many of these “lone wolf” attacks: an attack gets carried by a loan wolf/lone wolves that we later learn are shockingly closely related to highly connected individuals. Evan Ebel’s attack on Tom Clements in Colorado is another recent example of this phenomenon.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 27, 2013, 5:06 pm
  7. Putin recently told reporters that the information provided to the FBI by Russia about Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not have “operative significance”:

    Putin: Russia’s Tip On Boston Bombing Suspect Didn’t Have ‘Operative Significance’
    Hunter Walker April 26, 2013, 3:34 PM

    Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in on the Boston Marathon bombing during a marathon public question-and-answer session Thursday, claiming the information Russia provided the FBI about one of the alleged bombers did not have “operative significance.” Putin also declared that Americans who want to see the surviving suspect branded a “prisoner of war” have “completely lost their marbles.”

    Putin addressed the bombing during a “Direct Line” broadcast where he spent nearly five hours taking questions submitted from Russians in the audience, via email, telephone hotline, and text message. He has participated in the “Direct Line” program almost each year since 2001.

    When the Direct Line broadcast was over, Putin fielded some questions from journalists including one who asked about a 2011 request Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, made to the FBI for information on deceased bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. That request has prompted questions about whether American law enforcement agencies could have done more to identify Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzokhar, before they allegedly carried out the attack on the Boston Marathon.

    After an initial investigation of Tsarnaev, the FBI asked for more information from Russia in order to allow them to look into him further. Russia did not respond with more information. However, after going to the FBI, the Russian intelligence agencies contacted the CIA and requested they also look into Tsarnaev. Because of these investigations into Tsarnaev, his name was included on two different watch lists. In spite of this, law enforcement agencies were not notified when Tsarnaev took a trip to Russia in 2012 because the birthdate and spelling of his name the FSB had provided to the FBI were both incorrect.

    Putin told reporters he wished the information Russia provided to American law enforcement agencies had been more useful.

    It would be interesting to learn just how misspelled the name was and just how off the birth date was in the info the FSB also provided the FBI regarding Tamerlan’s 2012 trip and whether or not the CIA received the same info. And now we learn that Russia had a wiretapped recording of Tameralan discussing Jihad with his mom in 2011. This was reportedly shared with US intelligence in the past few days:

    Russia Had Wiretap on Tamerlan Tsarnaev
    EILEEN SULLIVAN and MATT APUZZO April 27, 2013, 5:10 PM

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say Russian authorities secretly recorded a conversation in 2011 in which one of the Boston bombing suspects vaguely discussed jihad with his mother.

    Officials say a second call was recorded between the suspects’ mother and a man under FBI investigation living in southern Russia.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing case.

    They say the Russians shared this intelligence with the U.S. in the past few days.

    The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, there might have been enough evidence for the FBI to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Boston bombing suspects’ family.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of frictions this attack causes between the US and Russia as the intelligence-sharing failures as well as the US intelligence ties to Chechen separatists continue to come to come under public scrutiny. You also have to wonder if any of this was an intended outcome by putative plotters or random fallout.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 27, 2013, 6:21 pm
  8. The latest “WTF?” revelation: Now we’re getting reports that BOTH vehicles used by the Boston bombers were parked next to each other nearby the boat where Dzhokhar was capture. The hijacked Mercedes was parked next to a green Honda and it’s assumed to be the same green Honda that investigators believe they were driving when the shot Sean Collier at MIT. Their father owned a 1999 green Honda.

    It was after that killing at MIT that they hijacked the Mercedes SUV and engaged in the wild gun fight where Tamerlan was killed (reportedly by being run over by the Mercedes that Dzhokhar was driving). So, if this same green Honda used in the killing of the MIT police officer was ALSO found RIGHT NEXT TO THE HIJACKED MERCEDES near the boat, how did the green Honda get there? Did someone else drive it because the reports from the hijacked car owner was that both individuals hijacked him and drove him around for 30 minutes for releasing him. Or did they then drive back to the green Honda and have one of the brothers drive it to the street near the boat and then park it there first before they met up to have the shootout with the police? That would be odd but sort of plausible perhaps? Maybe? Like they decided to split up and then meet up? Ok, maybe. But as the article below points out, investigators believe they drove the green Honda to MIT where Collier was killed.

    Another possibility is that they first dropped the Honda off nearby the boat after killing Collier and then walked/ran all the way over to where the carjacking took place that would have required them to walk miles back in the direction of MIT from the boat at an extremely fast pace to get to the location of the carjacking took place. So somehow that green Honda was moved after the carjacking and then parked near the boat and then they met up for the fight with the cops nearby the area where the shootout took place.

    You have to wonder, though, if they did stop to get the green Honda after the car jacking, why? Why on earth would they? They were presumably going on a killing spree because their pictures were on the news. What value did having that car give them since it was a known suspect vehicle at that point?

    This would also imply that Dzhokhar drove the stolen shot up SUV back to the spot where they abandoned the green Honda following the shooting with the cops and then waited it out in the boat nearby. Since the green Honda is presumably a potential vehicle that you could drive away in why park your shot up Mercedes next to it? It’s not like they were acting rationally even by demented-terrorist standards of rationality, so who knows how to interpret this new car conundrum. It might end up being a completely different green Honda(although they would have presumably found the real one by now). but it was certainly an odd parking space choice and an odd apparent sequence of events:

    Police eye second car in Watertown shootout after Boston bombing
    By Jamie Novogrod and Tom Winter, NBC News

    Two cars, not one, appear to be at the center of the investigation into how the two brothers allegedly behind the Boston Marathon bombings carried out the fatal shooting of a police officer and the wounding of another during their final night rampage.

    An NBC News probe over the past several days has established that the brothers used and then dumped a green Honda as well as a stolen SUV as they led police on a wild chase.

    Massachusetts State Police, combined with local law enforcement, conducted a reenactment Thursday night at the scene of the April 18 shooting of Officer Sean Collier in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Key to that reenactment was a green Honda that appears to be the same car that was parked on Laurel Street, in Watertown, during the 200-round shootout there.

    One brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was fatally wounded and later pronounced dead; the younger brother, Dzhokhar, escaped police and eluded capture for around 16 more hours.

    Police said the suspects drove a green Honda to the location where Collier was shot and killed at the MIT campus in Cambridge. That shooting set off a string of incidents that ultimately led to the shootout between the suspects and police in Watertown.

    After the Cambridge shooting, the suspects carjacked a Mercedes 350 SUV at gunpoint, according to a federal affidavit. Both suspects rode in the SUV to Watertown, the affidavit says.

    However, photographs obtained by NBC News and eyewitness accounts given to NBC News producers indicate that both a green Honda and black Mercedes SUV were parked at the scene of the Watertown shooting. Several people who were near the scene that night said the Honda was positioned behind the Mercedes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 27, 2013, 8:35 pm
  9. The Boston Globe just released an official timeline from the investigators’ reenactment. It helps clear up a lot of questions about what happened but it still leaves a number of “why” questions. Specifically, why did they carjack a Mercedes in Cambridge after killing a cop at MIT, and then drive around in the general area for almost 90 minutes before the carjacking victim escaped. And why were they still in the general are almost 30 minutes after he escaped to go get the green Honda? According to the report, the two retrieved the Honda civic just “moments” before it was called into the police that the hijacked SUV was near Dexter Ave in Watertown. That was based on GPS triangulation using the iPhone of the carjacking victim that was still left in the car. The guy escaped at the gas station at 12:15 am and the call locating them at Dexter came in at 12:42 am. So they spent 27 minute driving from where the carjacking victim was released to where the green Honda was parked (which would be near where the shootout occurred since it was reportedly retrieved “moments” before the shootout on Laurel Street in the official report). You have to wonder if they were hoping to get help in that area? Or maybe it just took a long time to sneak back and extract the green Honda because they took lots of side roads and so forth? Who knows, but from the moment they carjacked that guy they seemed to be spending a lot of time in that Watertown neighborhood both before and after release of the cajacking victim. Was that a meetup area with collaborators if things went apeshit?

    Something pointing against the the theory that they had collaborators is the fact that they had to stop for money at an ATM in the first place. Going broke shouldn’t be an issue when you’re an organized terrorist unless maintaining your cover as a welfare-terrorist is deemed important. It’s also speculated that one of the motives for killing Sean Colliers was to get his gun. According to the article below, video surveillance footage of the killing of MIT officer Collier shows that the original reports that Colliers was responding to a disturbance were wrong. Instead, the suspects walked up to Colliers sitting in his patrol car and shot him execution style. And it’s still unclear why the brothers were at MIT in the first place. So it’s very unclear that getting a second gun is the reason for gunning down a cop (maybe they thought he was radioing in their location?) but getting a second gun seems like an extra bad reason to kill a cop in that kind of a situation. And they never actually got the gun (the carjacking victim also said he never saw a second weapon). So if this was an operation planned by a larger organization it would appear that the plotters intended on making it look like these guys were broke and barely armed. Only one gun is a huge gap in one’s terrorist “stash” if you’re a pair of brothers planning a make-it-up-as-you-go-along terror-spree. What an insane terror-spree:

    Boston Globe
    102 hours in pursuit of Marathon suspects
    By Globe Staff

    April 28, 2013

    For five indelible days, the unthinkable became routine in Boston. And no one felt that more than the police and agents mounting the largest manhunt in regional history and parsing its most complex crime scene. It took a cast of thousands — also courage, sacrifice, teamwork, and luck — to crack the case. But they did it.

    A quiet afternoon in his garden beckoned as Governor Deval Patrick left the finish line of the Boston Marathon. After crowning the men’s and women’s winners with wreaths of laurel, he headed home to Milton around 1 p.m., looking forward to working in the dirt.

    Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis stayed at the race until 1:30. He was watching runners cross the finish line, but also surveying security measures at America’s oldest and most famous road race, including teams of dogs and more than 1,000 uniformed officers and soldiers.

    “Be vigilant,” Davis told them in parting as he headed home to Hyde Park, to join a conference call on gun control convened by Vice President Joe Biden.

    It seemed like a perfect day. The Red Sox won at Fenway. A bright sun shone. A glorious holiday, when nothing could go wrong.

    THURSDAY, 4:02 P.M.

    Anonymous no more

    Sixty miles away at UMass Dartmouth, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev used his swipe card to enter his dorm at 4:02 p.m. He had one more hour of anonymity remaining.

    It would be the last time he would use his card on campus.

    The 19-year-old had already made what would be his last posting on Twitter, the previous day. He retweeted a message from a Saudi scholar, Mufti Ismail Menk: “Attitude can take away your beauty no matter how good looking you are, or it could enhance your beauty, making you adorable.”

    After that, silence.

    Dzhokhar had enjoyed three days of freedom since the bombings. But he and his brother Tamerlan had failed to prepare for what was coming, as if they had imagined investigators would never track them down.

    Dzhokhar’s life as a “stress free kind of guy” who sold pot on the side to raise pocket money was about to end. By the time he arrived back in Cambridge sometime that night, his face would be known to millions, and tips about his identity would be pouring in to federal agents.

    The brothers’ sudden notoriety may have inspired their belated and desperate plan to escape to New York, where authorities now believe the brothers had drawn a bull’s-eye on their next target: Times Square, the fabled “Crossroads of the World.’’

    But the brothers hadn’t set aside money or even a getaway car for the journey — they had to figure that the green Honda Civic Dzhokhar drove would soon be known to police. They were also seriously short on weapons — police recovered only one handgun and a BB gun that they could trace to the pair.

    Their apparent hope of adding to that paltry firepower set them on a deadly collision course with Sean A. Collier, a genial police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    About 9:30 p.m., Collier was on routine patrol. He was parked by the corner of Vassar and Main streets. It was a spot where motorists would sometimes take a chance, making an illegal shortcut through campus to avoid a red light.

    “We ask patrols to sit there,’’ DiFava explained. It prevents the forbidden cut-throughs and it provides a high-profile presence for the MIT community.

    What are you doing? the chief asked his young officer.

    “Just making sure everybody behaves,’’ Collier told him.

    The two men chatted easily for several minutes. And then DiFava pulled away.

    The chief was home for perhaps a half hour when his phone rang. “It was the deputy chief,’’ DiFava said. “He said Sean Collier has been shot.’’

    In the fog of what would become a deadly and dangerous night, there were initial reports that Collier had been responding to a disturbance. That turned out to be wrong.

    What actually happened was more cold-blooded, authorities said. Police officials have called it an assassination, an execution.

    Authorities say video from a surveillance camera shows the suspects approaching Collier’s car from the rear as he sat in his cruiser. Collier was shot five times, including twice in the head, officials said.

    “He didn’t stand a chance,’’ DiFava said.

    The two bombing suspects allegedly tried to steal Collier’s weapon, but they couldn’t unlock it.

    “The retention holster does its job well, so perhaps they didn’t get the gun because of that holster,’’ the MIT chief said. “Maybe that’s what thwarted them from getting the gun, because the gun was not removed from the holster.’’

    Authorities say it is not clear why the Tsarnaevs were at MIT or why they targeted Collier.

    “We have all kinds of unanswered questions,’’ DiFava said.

    Last week, the Somerville Police Department asked the city’s Board of Aldermen to honor Collier, appointing him posthumously to the city’s police force.

    As tributes flooded in about Collier, including those from Biden, DiFava could scarcely utter words about his fallen officer.

    “From the time I saw him to the time he was dead, it was probably about an hour,’’ DiFava said.

    If the details of the attack were unspeakable, they proved to be useful weapons for the alleged terrorists.

    “I just killed a policeman in Cambridge,’’ Tamerlan Tsarnaev told the man he would meet next as he waved a silver handgun at him.

    THURSDAY, 11 P.M.


    It was a cool spring night, and a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Cambridge had picked the perfect way to unwind: take his new $50,000 Mercedes-Benz out for a spin.

    As he drove his spacious 2013 black SUV toward Boston, the man — a Chinese immigrant who asked to be identified only by his American nickname, Danny — noticed a swarm of police cars with flashing blue lights near the MIT campus.

    After a short drive across the river, Danny, who earned a master’s degree from Northeastern University last year and is trained as an engineer, pulled his car to the curb on Brighton Avenue to answer a text message.

    Suddenly, an old sedan swerved behind him and slammed to a stop. A thin young man in dark clothes got out, approached the passenger window, and rapped on the glass. Danny lowered the window.

    The man reached an arm through, unlocked the door, climbed in, and pointed a handgun.

    He demanded cash, and made it all too clear this wasn’t a joke.

    “You know about the Boston Marathon bombing? I did that,” Tamerlan said. “Don’t be stupid.’’

    What followed was a harrowing 75 minutes during which 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev — soon joined in the car by his brother Dzhokhar — forced Danny on a circuitous journey through Brighton, Watertown, and back to Cambridge.

    The brothers wanted more cash than the $45 that Danny had and they talked about driving to New York. Otherwise, their intentions were unclear. The odyssey took on a surreal tone. The brothers marveled at the features of the Mercedes-Benz, popped in a CD of what sounded like Middle Eastern religious music, and talked about credit limits for students.

    Through it all, Danny feared they would kill him if he made one misstep. He frantically thought about how to escape. And he prayed.

    They lapped Brighton and crossed the Charles River into Watertown, following Arsenal Street. Opening Danny’s wallet, Tamerlan asked for his ATM code.

    Then he instructed Danny to pull over on a side street in East Watertown. A Honda Civic sedan that Danny had noticed following him stopped behind the Mercedes. A younger man approached – the shaggy-haired “Suspect No. 2’’ in the photos and videos released by authorities just hours earlier. Tamerlan got out, ordered Danny into the front passenger seat, and warned him that if he tried anything he would shoot him. For several minutes, the brothers moved heavy objects from the smaller car into Danny’s SUV; Danny figured it was luggage.

    Tamerlan took the wheel and his brother got in the back seat, leaving the Honda behind. Danny looked at the younger man and recognized Dzhokhar from the FBI images.

    “I saw his face because he had a clear picture,’’ Danny said. “I was 100 percent sure that he was really similar to that guy.’’

    At one point, Danny asked Tamerlan, “Are you going to hurt me?’’

    “I’m not going to hurt you,’’ he replied. “We’re just going to drop you off. . . . Probably you’ll have to walk 4 or 5 miles to find anybody, and if you are lucky, somebody will pick you up.’’

    The Mercedes stopped in front of a Bank of America ATM in Watertown Center. The younger brother got out and withdrew an estimated $800. Danny debated bolting from the Mercedes. He implored the older man to let him unbuckle his seatbelt and put on a jacket in the back seat because he was cold.

    Tamerlan drove down Soldiers Field Road, passed Harvard Business School, turned left on a bridge in front of the Doubletree Hotel, and then another left into the Shell Station on Memorial Drive to buy gas.

    “Maybe I have a chance,” Danny thought. “It’s my last chance to get out.”

    Tamerlan pulled up the car with the gas pumps on the right, next to Danny. Dzhokhar got out with Danny’s credit card to pay for the gas.

    It was around 12:15, an hour and a half since he was abducted. Danny realized it was a critical moment: The doors were unlocked. Dzhokhar was in the store. The gun was tucked in the driver’s side door. And Tamerlan was distracted, struggling with the GPS device he had brought with him on the carjacking.

    “I was thinking I must do two things: unfasten my seatbelt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can. If I didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away,” Danny said.

    Tamerlan tried to grab his jacket. But Danny slammed the door, leaving his phone in the vehicle. He ran behind the SUV at an angle to avoid potential gunshots. “F—!” Tamerlan screamed as Danny darted across River Street to a Mobil Station that had the lights on.

    In the instant that Danny sprinted to freedom and toward a 911 telephone call, the brothers were now fully exposed.

    They were driving a stolen vehicle.

    They were the most wanted men in New England.

    And as they roared out of Shell’s parking lot and onto Memorial Drive, they pointed the black Mercedes toward Watertown.

    FRIDAY, 12:44 A.M.

    Shoot-out in Watertown

    Watertown Police Officer Joseph Reynolds’s midnight to 8 a.m. shift had barely begun when police frequencies erupted with news of abduction and mayhem next door in Cambridge.

    “Wanted for carjacking that occurred in Cambridge, possibly related to the Cambridge incident,” said the State Police dispatcher, referring to the shooting at MIT. “Middle Eastern males, the victim stated they both had handguns … during the conversation, the victim gathered they were possibly heading to New York City.”
    In fact, the black SUV stolen by the Tsarnaev brothers was nowhere near New York City. The global positioning system on the vehicle, which emitted tiny traceable electronic signals, showed that the Mercedes was less than 5 miles from their apartment – and heading Reynolds’s way.

    At 12:42 a.m., Watertown’s dispatcher warned: “Okay, the vehicle is now in Watertown, units, in the area of 89 Dexter,” part of a slumbering neighborhood of tidy houses and duplexes whose residents proudly decorate their homes with flower boxes. A lot of Watertown was like that — a small town where many of the police officers never fired their guns outside of the practice range.

    “I’m right behind that vehicle,” Reynolds replied.

    The patrol supervisor, Sergeant John MacLellan, advised caution. “Don’t stop the car until I get there,’’ he told Reynolds, according to Watertown Police Captain Raymond Dupuis. “Wait for help to come.’’

    But there was no time. The SUV took a sudden left turn from Dexter Avenue onto Laurel Street and came to an abrupt stop — right behind a second vehicle, the green Honda Civic that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had retrieved moments earlier. As Reynolds watched, one brother emerged from each car.

    “The suspects get out and start shooting at Joe Reynolds,’’ said Dupuis.

    The next four minutes may go down as the longest in Watertown history, as the two sides fired more than 250 bullets all told and the brothers hurled bombs, filling the night air with the stench of sulfur. When the smoke cleared, one bomber was dead, a police officer had been gravely wounded, houses were pockmarked with bullet holes and shrapnel, and an entire community was traumatized.

    When Tamerlan ran out of ammunition, he threw his weapon at Pugliese, hitting him in the arm, Dupuis said. Tamerlan then tried to run, but Pugliese, with the aid of Reynolds and MacLellan, tackled him in the street and handcuffed him.

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have injured himself in one of the blasts — he had what appeared to be shrapnel cuts on his neck and ear when he was captured — but that didn’t stop him. He jumped into the stolen SUV and started driving straight toward the three officers and Tamerlan.

    “He’s coming toward us!’’ MacLellan yelled in time for the other officers to roll off Tamerlan at the last minute.

    The SUV ran over Tamerlan Tsarnaev with a sickening thump. Blood pooled around him. Red streaks stained the pavement where Dzhokhar had dragged his older brother under the SUV.

    “He was on his belly; he was moving,” said Jean MacDonald, who was watching from her second-floor bathroom window on Laurel Street. “I saw him trying to lift up his head.”

    Police said Tsarnaev dragged his brother’s body about 30 feet.

    “I could see the SUV headlights go up and then down when he drove over his brother,” said Rob Mullen of Laurel Street, who watched the gunfight unfold in disbelief.

    Somehow, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev maneuvered the careening SUV between the two police cars on Laurel Street and sped off at 12:48 p.m.Wounded, he didn’t get far, abandoning the vehicle about half a mile away and setting off on foot.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2013, 11:17 pm
  10. Yep, that’s pretty spooky:

    Foreign Policy
    The Complex
    ‘Military-Style’ Raid on California Power Station Spooks U.S.

    BY Shane Harris
    DECEMBER 27, 2013 – 02:02 PM

    When U.S. officials warn about “attacks” on electric power facilities these days, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a computer hacker trying to shut the lights off in a city with malware. But a more traditional attack on a power station in California has U.S. officials puzzled and worried about the physical security of the the electrical grid–from attackers who come in with guns blazing.

    Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks — or groups of transformers — were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman.

    Cooling oil then leaked from a transformer bank, causing the transformers to overheat and shut down. State regulators urged customers in the area to conserve energy over the following days, but there was no long-term damage reported at the facility and there were no major power outages. There were no injuries reported. That was the good news. The bad news is that officials don’t know who the shooter(s) were, and most importantly, whether further attacks are planned.

    “Initially, the attack was being treated as vandalism and handled by local law enforcement,” the senior intelligence official said. “However, investigators have been quoted in the press expressing opinions that there are indications that the timing of the attacks and target selection indicate a higher level of planning and sophistication.”

    The FBI has taken over the case. There appears to have been some initial concern, or at least interest, in the fact that the shooting happened one day after the Boston Marathon bombing. But the FBI has no evidence that the attack is related to terrorism, and it appears to be an isolated incident, said Peter Lee, a spokesman for the FBI field office in San Francisco, which is leading the investigation. Lee said the FBI has “a couple of leads we’re still following up on,” which he wouldn’t discuss in detail. There has not been any published motive or intent for the attack, the intelligence official said, and no one has claimed credit.

    Local investigators seemed to hit a dead end in June, so they released surveillance footage of the shooting. But that apparently produced no new information. The FBI says there have been no tips from the public about who the shooter might be and what he was doing there.

    The incident might have stayed a local news story, but this month, Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat and ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, mentioned it at a hearing on regulatory issues. “It is clear that the electric grid is not adequately protected from physical or cyber attacks,” Waxman said. He called the shooting at the the San Jose facility “an unprecedented and sophisticated attack on an electric grid substation with military-style weapons. Communications were disrupted. The attack inflicted substantial damage. It took weeks to replace the damaged parts. Under slightly different conditions, there could have been serious power outages or worse.”

    At the very least, the attack points to an arguably overlooked physical threat to power facilities at a time when much of the U.S. intelligence community, Congress, and the electrical power industry is focused on the risk of cyber attacks. There has never been a confirmed power outage caused by a cyber attack in the United States. But the Obama administration has sought to promulgate cyber security standards that power facilities could use to minimize the risk of one.

    At least one senior official thinks the government is focusing too heavily on cyber attacks. Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said last month that an attack by intruders with guns and rifles could be just as devastating as a cyber attack.

    A shooter “could get 200 yards away with a .22 rifle and take the whole thing out,” Wellinghoff said last month at a conference sponsored by Bloomberg. His proposed defense: A metal sheet that would block the transformer from view. “If you can’t see through the fence, you can’t figure out where to shoot anymore,” Wellinghoff said. Price tag? A “couple hundred bucks.” A lot cheaper than the billions the administration has spent in the past four years beefing up cyber security of critical infrastructure in the United States and on government computer networks.

    “There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid,” Wellinghoff said. “I don’t think we have the level of physical security we need.”

    Note that Jon Wellinghoff’s warning about someone using a rifle at 200 yards didn’t take place last month. It was actually last year so this type of attack wasn’t exactly a surprise to the industry. Let’s hope there aren’t any more non-surprises on the way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 28, 2013, 9:26 pm
  11. And the next day – April 17th – was the huge explosion at the “West” Texas fertilizer plant.
    the source of the fire was never determined:


    On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, eighteen miles (29 km) north of Waco while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility.[6] Fifteen people were killed, more than 160 were injured, and more than 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Investigators have confirmed that ammonium nitrate was the trigger for the explosion, but the cause of the initial fire is as yet unknown.[7]
    The facility caught fire on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, then exploded as firefighters were attempting to douse the flames.[19] The cause of the initial fire remains unknown;[20] authorities ruled out weather, natural causes, anhydrous ammonia, and ammonium nitrate in a rail car as possible causes of the fire.[21] The explosion occurred about 7:50:38 p.m. CDT (00:50 UTC, April 18).[6][22]

    Posted by Swamp | December 29, 2013, 9:20 pm
  12. Here’s a followup report on the attack on the Metcalf power station less than a day after the Boston bombings: More details on the attack are available but the individuals involved and the motives are still a mystery. Something that appears to be emerging, though, is the growing evidence that the perpetrators were using professional tactics:

    The Wall Street Journall
    Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism
    April Sniper Attack Knocked Out Substation, Raises Concern for Country’s Power Grid

    By Rebecca Smith
    Feb. 4, 2014 10:30 p.m. ET

    SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

    Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

    To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

    Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.’s Metcalf transmission substation. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.

    The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.

    The Wall Street Journal assembled a chronology of the Metcalf attack from filings PG&E made to state and federal regulators; from other documents including a video released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department; and from interviews, including with Mr. Wellinghoff.

    Q&A: What You Need to Know About Attacks on the U.S. Power Grid

    The 64-year-old Nevadan, who was appointed to FERC in 2006 by President George W. Bush and stepped down in November, said he gave closed-door, high-level briefings to federal agencies, Congress and the White House last year. As months have passed without arrests, he said, he has grown increasingly concerned that an even larger attack could be in the works. He said he was going public about the incident out of concern that national security is at risk and critical electric-grid sites aren’t adequately protected.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t think a terrorist organization caused the Metcalf attack, said a spokesman for the FBI in San Francisco. Investigators are “continuing to sift through the evidence,” he said.

    Some people in the utility industry share Mr. Wellinghoff’s concerns, including a former official at PG&E, Metcalf’s owner, who told an industry gathering in November he feared the incident could have been a dress rehearsal for a larger event.

    “This wasn’t an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation,” Mark Johnson, retired vice president of transmission for PG&E, told the utility security conference, according to a video of his presentation. “This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components.” When reached, Mr. Johnson declined to comment further.

    A spokesman for PG&E said the company takes all incidents seriously but declined to discuss the Metcalf event in detail for fear of giving information to potential copycats. “We won’t speculate about the motives” of the attackers, added the spokesman, Brian Swanson. He said PG&E has increased security measures.

    Utility executives and federal energy officials have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage. That is in part because the grid, which is really three systems serving different areas of the U.S., has failed when small problems such as trees hitting transmission lines created cascading blackouts. One in 2003 knocked out power to 50 million people in the Eastern U.S. and Canada for days.

    Many of the system’s most important components sit out in the open, often in remote locations, protected by little more than cameras and chain-link fences.

    Transmission substations are critical links in the grid. They make it possible for electricity to move long distances, and serve as hubs for intersecting power lines.

    Within a substation, transformers raise the voltage of electricity so it can travel hundreds of miles on high-voltage lines, or reduce voltages when electricity approaches its destination. The Metcalf substation functions as an off-ramp from power lines for electricity heading to homes and businesses in Silicon Valley.

    The country’s roughly 2,000 very large transformers are expensive to build, often costing millions of dollars each, and hard to replace. Each is custom made and weighs up to 500,000 pounds, and “I can only build 10 units a month,” said Dennis Blake, general manager of Pennsylvania Transformer in Pittsburgh, one of seven U.S. manufacturers. The utility industry keeps some spares on hand.

    A 2009 Energy Department report said that “physical damage of certain system components (e.g. extra-high-voltage transformers) on a large scale…could result in prolonged outages, as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.”

    Mr. Wellinghoff said a FERC analysis found that if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once, that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.

    Not everyone is so pessimistic. Gerry Cauley, chief executive of the North America Electric Reliability Corp., a standards-setting group that reports to FERC, said he thinks the grid is more resilient than Mr. Wellinghoff fears.

    “I don’t want to downplay the scenario he describes,” Mr. Cauley said. “I’ll agree it’s possible from a technical assessment.” But he said that even if several substations went down, the vast majority of people would have their power back in a few hours.

    The utility industry has been focused on Internet attacks, worrying that hackers could take down the grid by disabling communications and important pieces of equipment. Companies have reported 13 cyber incidents in the past three years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of emergency reports utilities file with the federal government. There have been no reports of major outages linked to these events, although companies have generally declined to provide details.

    “A lot of people in the electric industry have been distracted by cybersecurity threats,” said Stephen Berberich, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, which runs much of the high-voltage transmission system for the utilities. He said that physical attacks pose a “big, if not bigger” menace.

    There were 274 significant instances of vandalism or deliberate damage in the three years, and more than 700 weather-related problems, according to the Journal’s analysis.

    Until the Metcalf incident, attacks on U.S. utility equipment were mostly linked to metal thieves, disgruntled employees or bored hunters, who sometimes took potshots at small transformers on utility poles to see what happens. (Answer: a small explosion followed by an outage.)

    Last year, an Arkansas man was charged with multiple attacks on the power grid, including setting fire to a switching station. He has pleaded not guilty and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, according to federal court records.

    Overseas, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on transmission lines or towers and at least 500 on substations from 1996 to 2006, according to a January report from the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry-funded research group, which cited State Department data.

    To some, the Metcalf incident has lifted the discussion of serious U.S. grid attacks beyond the theoretical. “The breadth and depth of the attack was unprecedented” in the U.S., said Rich Lordan, senior technical executive for the Electric Power Research Institute. The motivation, he said, “appears to be preparation for an act of war.”

    The attack lasted slightly less than an hour, according to the chronology assembled by the Journal.

    In a news release, PG&E said the substation had been hit by vandals. It has since confirmed 17 transformers were knocked out.

    Mr. Wellinghoff, then chairman of FERC, said that after he heard about the scope of the attack, he flew to California, bringing with him experts from the U.S. Navy’s Dahlgren Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, which trains Navy SEALs. After walking the site with PG&E officials and FBI agents, Mr. Wellinghoff said, the military experts told him it looked like a professional job.

    In addition to fingerprint-free shell casings, they pointed out small piles of rocks, which they said could have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.

    “They said it was a targeting package just like they would put together for an attack,” Mr. Wellinghoff said.

    Mr. Wellinghoff, now a law partner at Stoel Rives LLP in San Francisco, said he arranged a series of meetings in the following weeks to let other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, know what happened and to enlist their help. He held a closed-door meeting with utility executives in San Francisco in June and has distributed lists of things utilities should do to strengthen their defenses.

    A spokesman for Homeland Security said it is up to utilities to protect the grid. The department’s role in an emergency is to connect federal agencies and local police and facilitate information sharing, the spokesman said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 5, 2014, 8:19 pm

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