Intelligence sources had concluded as far back as 1998 that Osama Bin Laden saw the Chechen region, where Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months in 2012, as a fertile breeding ground for terror recruitment, bases, and specifically “sleeper cells,” according to a newly released and unclassified intelligence document.
The intelligence document was released by Judicial Watch and was initially produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Intelligence Information Report (IIR) in October 1998. The report was produced as part of an intelligence operation whose unclassified nickname is “Swift Knight.” This investigation gathered information surrounding two simultaneous strikes by the Clinton administration on Bin Laden hideouts and assets on August 20, 1998.
That strike was in retaliation for twin strikes by Al Qaeda on US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on August 7, 1998. In this particular document, DIA officials concluded that Bin Laden viewed that region as fertile because of direct routes between the area and Pakistan and Afghanistan.
[The] existence of a secure, reliable, terrorist-sponsored direct route to Chechnya from Pakistan and Afghanistan through Turkey and Azerbaijan,” read the pertinent portion of the material.
Furthermore, defense intelligence officials identified Ibn al-Khattab as an especially brutal and loyal fighter for Bin Laden. Al-Kattab would earn the notorious moniker “the Chechen Bin Laden” and would later be killed in 2002. In the DIA document, he is referred to as an especially brutal and core member of Bin Laden’s inner circle.
Bin Laden stayed in Khartoom, where 700 Arabs were concentrated. From this group he created the nucleus of the terrorist fundamentalist political organization, ‘Al Qaeda’. Among the members was his personal friend, Amir Khattab, a Jordanian Chechen whose reputation was distinguished even in their own circle for unmotivated brutality. In 1995, Khattab appeared in Chechnya to carry out a special mission assigned to him by Usama Bin Laden to organize training camps for international terrorists.
Furthermore, Bin Laden, according to intelligence, viewed the area in Chechnya as a critical geographic region for his own caliphate utopia:
The goals of the group were, at minimum, to overthrow Fahkd in Saudi Arabia, and to build a “Just Islamic State” there, and at maximum, to establish a worldwide Islamic State capable of directly challenging the U.S., China, Russia and what it views as Judeo-Christian and Confucian domination.
The means by which the above goals are to be met are via terror, ethnic cleansing, latent penetration, and control over nuclear and biological weapons. Furthermore, radical Islamic regimes are to be established and supported everywhere possible, including Bosnia, Albania, Chechnya, Dagestan, the entire Northern Caucasus “From Sea to Sea.”
Both Tamerlan Tsarneav and his brother, Dshokzhar, were originally from the region in Chechnya. Furthermore, there is some evidence that Tamerlan visited the region, specifically Dagestan, during his six-month trip to Russia.
Bin Laden specifically mentioned “sleeper cells” as potential assets coming from the Chechen region in his global jihad.
With the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing only in its second week, the connections between the Tsarnaev brothers and international terror groups like Al Qaeda are not yet entirely clear. Still, it should be noted that this document was originally drafted in the summer of 1998. It’s clear that Bin Laden saw the region where they came from, and which they identified with, as fertile soil for intense terrorist activity.
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