Get PJ Media on your Apple

The Rosett Report

Refugee Trauma and the Boston Terrorists

April 21st, 2013 - 2:01 am

Following the past week’s marathon of terror in Boston, the news is full of articles trying to explain the Tsarnaev brothers. What would motivate two young men, granted asylum by America, to answer that welcome by assaulting a crowd with bombs packed with nails and ball bearings, with maiming and murder?

Given the Chechen origins of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the search for answers has quite reasonably entailed a crash course in the history of Chechnya. The terrorism in Boston was clearly a case of jihad, and Chechnya over the past generation has become a jihadi hub; though plenty of details have yet to be discovered about the precise path that took the Tsarnaev brothers from emigre boys to terror suspects — one now dead and the other in custody after a manhunt that shut down all of Boston.

But creeping into this discussion is another line of analysis, of which we should be very wary. That would be the suggestion that the terror in Boston was the product not only of radical Islam, but more broadly a result of the agonies suffered over generations by the Chechens. For instance, in a meditative article on the two brothers, The New Yorker’s David Remnick writes, “The Tsarnaev family had been battered by history before — by empire and the strife of displacement, by exile and emigration. Asylum in a bright new land proved little comfort.”

Remnick is quite right that the Chechens have endured a long history of hell. The conquest of Chechnya by Czarist Russia in the 18th century translated into the brutalities of Soviet rule in the 20th century. During World War II, to prevent the Chechens from collaborating with the Nazis against the Soviet Union, Stalin deported the entire Chechen population in cattle cars to Central Asia. Many died. When the survivors began returning to Chechnya, in the late 1950s and 1960s, many found ethnic Russians living in their homes.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, in 1991, Chechnya declared independence. Russian President Boris Yeltsin said no, and responded in late 1994 by sending in the biggest strike force since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. At the time, I was working for the Wall Street Journal in Moscow, and went down to the Caucasus to cover that war. It was horrific; the Chechen capital of Grozny was largely reduced to rubble. About that same time, jihadis and their financiers began arriving from the Middle East, and what had been primarily a Chechen campaign to escape Russian rule became increasingly tied to fundamentalist Islam, amid a second round of war, and refugee flows that spilled over into the neighboring Russian republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan (where the father of the Tsarnaev brothers is now living, having returned there after gaining asylum in America). These events were traumatic, and quite likely made a ferocious impression on the Tsarnaev brothers — young though they were when they left the Caucasus for America, more than a decade ago.

But do the shocks of war and displacement –however traumatic — really explain why immigrants would turn to terror, and bring bombs to the Boston Marathon?

America has a long history of welcoming refugees, from a great many places, who have been through events at least as traumatic. Among them are survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, of the North Vietnamese conquest of the South, of the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, of the miseries of Haiti, and of the prisons of such countries as China or Cuba. Whatever the difficulties they might have found in adapting to life in America — or life in general — many have made good use of the freedom and opportunities America ensures. None of these refugees have turned to such projects as terrorist attacks; none have waded into a festive crowd to spread wanton agony by planting bombs built to kill or blow the legs off whoever happened to be there at the time.

There’s an argument to be made that the miseries of the Chechens created an opening for the lure of jihad. But the record suggests that such traumas as a history of war and exile do not by themselves lead refugees living in America to plot or commit terrorism. It is when jihad enters the picture that the bombs go off.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Listening to the cable news talking heads, particularly CNN, during the Boston ordeal prompted me to repeatedly ask myself how these individuals survived into adulthood; every dumb mutt quickly learns who will abuse him. The problem is Islam. Islam is the problem. To ignore that is to be willfully blind or butt stupid.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You know, the South Koreans and the South Vietnamese - except for some social customs that they learned real quick was not acceptable - meshed into society with no problems whatsoever. Same with non-islamic Africans.

The problem seems to be islam - over and over again - it's islam.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (34)
All Comments   (34)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
These two brothers found a home in this diabolical, brutish, miseralble ethic of Islam. They saw it as a way to crawl into warm fuzzy place where they could define themselves within the group of what? Islamist Terrorists.....
A quick trial and a quick execution and the one left will be no more. We do not have to understand them, for we cannot.
They were fed the demon of Mohammad and they revelled in it, enough said...
When we learn to recognize complete animal misery in a human, then we will start to beat back these Islamists in our Nation. Until then, we will continue to be led by the nose down the path of stupidity. The only solution to our future trouble is to deport all who wish to live under the ideology of Islam and destroy all Mosques and stop all Islamic services in this nation.
We stopped the Communist for a time until we were conned into Progressive goals, and now we are all courting Communism. If we let Islam in any form in our Nation, we will be the losers in the end, for they will overtime out breed us and take over our Nation.
You have been warned of your future!!
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sometimes I think this Western world is too occupied with wanting to know the ‘cause’ of bad behavior. I don’t care. Slam the behavior; kill it; ruthlessly drive it into the ground and burn it to ashes. When you consistently punish violent criminals with timely executions, the behavior starts to evaporate. Islamic apologists in the West fail to point out that Sharia law is pretty brutal for a reason – it works. Turn the tide against violent crime by punishing it, not by “understanding” it. Go ahead and study the root causes all you want, just do it post-mortem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, your point is that we need Shariah? Then these terrorists had exactly the same goal as you: to install Shariah in the whole world. You can go to a closest mosque and convert, they will accept you happily.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
You ate paint chips as a child, didn't you?
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
TAKE HIS PIC DOWN, NOW!!!
Every news agency across the globe is showing the pic(s) of a sick murderer and all of the “wackos” and “nutjobs” who might be “on the fence” of doing, or not doing, something terrible are being encouraged into doing it for the FAME and NOTORIETY given by the Media. (AARRGGHH).
Show me pictures of the little boy this piece of dirt murdered in cold blood. I want to remember the joyful face of a bright-eyed young man living life to the fullest. Not some twisted killer. Show me the two women killed in the blast. Tell me stories of their lives, not the killers. I couldn’t care less about the slime that cowardly murdered innocents. Show me the runners in the Marathon – I have no idea what they look like. (But thanks to supreme stupidity by the media, I will never be able to forget the pics of a teenage killer.)
Show me the eight year-old boy – I want to identify with him, not the killer. Show me pics of the heroes – the law enforcement personnel who risked their lives to catch these butchers. Show me the guy with the boat who called it in! Show me the MIT Cop who was killed. Tell me about him, his life, his values, his experiences, not the killers.
Our collective Media is making a butcher of innocent children into a “relatable guy.” They are personalizing him. Please, please stop. I challenge you to a paradigm shift starting now. No longer does the media broadcast images of the criminal 24/7 and tell us all, all about his entire life and the lives of his relatives and friends. But rather, investigate, personalize and broadcast images of the innocent victims, the hard working law enforcement and/or military personnel. Tell us stories of their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their reality. Dig deep and deeper still, not into the killer, but in to the victims and heroes.
I won’t be holding my breath. littlegecko
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To repeat: I don't give a damn.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chechens have endured a long history of self-imposed "hell": all separatists in any empire have lots of problems. As any other separatists, Chechens brought it upon themselves.

The Boston bombers are, first of all, sociopaths. For them, it was an adventure, fun. They had no empathy for their victims' suffering.

It is possible that Islam contributed in making them less sensitive to the suffering of "infidels". Their personal failures made this "rebellion" more likely.

I do not think it is relevant that they were immigrants at all or that they were from Dagestan. They were sociopaths, losers, Muslims. The three factors explain everything, in my view.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"What would motivate two young men, granted asylum by America, to answer that welcome by assaulting a crowd with bombs packed with nails and ball bearings, with maiming and murder?"

You are projecting your cultural values onto the enemy. FDR did this at Yalta. He thought that, if he gave Stalin all for which he asked, Stalin would, noblesse oblige, respond in kind. He could not understand that noblesse oblige is a civilized, Western concept. Stalin did not, of course, because he was not like us.

You, like most Westerners, cannot conceive that most of the rest of the world has not embraced civilization. You cannot conceive that they are savages, even in the face of this kind of atrocity. You cannot understand that noblesse oblige is our ideal, not theirs.

When you smile at one of these savages, you expect a smile in return, or at least, a non-response. You are confused when you get a scowl in return. Not me. I expect a scowl in return. If I see a smile, I am suspicious.

You see, I know that the same savage who smiles back, will very often turn on a dime and attack me. Such is like the dog that earlier was friendly, but turns and bites you for seemingly no reason. Such a beast is not fully feral, but also, not fully domesticated. When the pack howls and hunts, he will join the pack in the hunt. It's his nature.

Some people are domesticated. Some are partially domesticated. Most are savages. As soon as you understand this, the world pulls into focus, and all is clear. It ceases to be blurry and confusing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am with Marc on this one. Been there, done that. It's not so much a failure to embrace "civilization" as it is a failure to ahere to moraal principle.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I can tell by your comment you've never really traveled.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To Marc Malone: I wonder, how do you know who is savage, and who is "domesticated"? Do you believe that everybody who was born in Russia, for example (as me), is a savage? I would not be surprised. I met with Americans like you. Often, people speak poor English themselves, but they consider everybody, who speaks with an accent, sub-human. While racism is not popular anymore, this idea that people can be stratified on "civilized" and "savages" based on the native language is very popular. Most of time it is not verbalized so openly though, as you did.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To you and my buddy, Burton: I have traveled. I also speak 5 languages to some degree, including Russian. Did you see poor English in my substantial post?

You reacted to my post in knee-jerk fashion. When you throw a stone into a pack of dogs, the one which yelps is the one which got hit. Yes, while many Russians are often nice and smiling (I have known many such), a great many more are very hard people, and you know this. Russia is run by such brutish people

Russia has a severe drinking problem. To this day, Russia hires Ukrainians to do public works, because the Russians themselves are often lazy drunks, and so, are unreliable.

Russia also has a sever disease problem, because the health system and the infrastructure (water) is decrepit. Disease is epidemic.

Russia's government is brutal and totalitarian.

People are attempting to leave Russia. Anyone with skills or beauty is using that to get out. Hardly anyone is trying to emigrate to Russia. I am assuming you are one of those who fled?

By contrast, people flock to America. They hold lotteries to obtain one of the few thousand slots allowed per country. It's not the prosperity they seek, although they often think so. It's the civilization which begets such prosperity.

America is welcoming like no other country in the world. We truly "love one another". We open our arms to the civilized people who wish to flee their backwards, unenlightened, uncivilized countries.

I open my arms to you. I am glad you are here (still assuming you are). Just remember, there is a reason you are here, and not still in Russia. It would be well to think upon that reason. You reflexively defend Russians, but you yourself have rejected Russia by leaving it.

I am not saying that Americans are all angels. Most assuredly, we are not. However, the majority are civilized, although that majority is now waning. We are in decline, but the concept of America is civilized and enlightened beyond all other lands. If you are civilized, you are born to be an American, regardless of your nation of origin, and I embrace you.

Here is how I define civilized: You don't prey upon me, and I don't prey upon you (It's the opposite of the dog-eat-dog of most of the rest of the world.); Fair play is the rule; We watch each others' backs; We smile and have goodwill toward one another; We honor our word; We each carry our share of the load; We treat each other with courtesy and respect.

It does not seem to be a very hard list, but most folks cannot handle it, when the moment of truth comes.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
And precisely why is Russia what it is today besides blaming the citizens as usless, diseased drunks?
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Marina,
A savage is someone who carries weapons to a school and murders innocent people. A savage is someone who stalks others, and then brutalizes them for pleasure, lust, greed, glory or even no reason whatsoever. A savage does not live by, abide by, or care about rules or codes of behavior other than his own. Rationalizing the behavior allows it to flourish. Marxism, communism, Islam are based on lies and misconceptions, and all rationalize and even encourage savage violence to further their means. The post had nothing to do with language or skin color, only behavior. A savage can be a well educated, polite, well-dressed man who takes his car and runs over his children because they were "too Western." Or one can be as innocuous as a woman passing out candy to her school children in celebration of mass murder, encouraging them to do the same to enemies of the state.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--- "“The Tsarnaev family had been battered by history before — by empire and the strife of displacement, by exile and emigration. Asylum in a bright new land proved little comfort.”"

If this is true -- considering how well treated these two were over here -- then the logical response is that we put, and keep, a very bright spotlight on the Chechen community. It's very sad. Poor people. But innocent American lives (along with those of our guests) MUST come first.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"But the record suggests that such traumas as a history of war and exile do not by themselves lead refugees living in America to plot or commit terrorism. It is when jihad enters the picture that the bombs go off."

We;ve had problems with immigrant bombers in the past - the German and Russian anarchists of 1890-1920. (See the Wall Street Bomb of 1920 that killed 38 people.)

In this case, though, the previous traumas are a big factor. We had (still have) problems with trauma-hardened Indochinese refugee kids; in the U.S. some of them formed some really vicious street gangs. Russian immigrants, who grew up in a corrupt and damaged culture, have included some really nasty gangsters.

Jihadism has a definite attraction for rootless and de-socialized migrants who don't succeed in fitting in anywhere. One of the Tsernaevs said he had no American friends. Was that because of his jihadism (no friendship with infidels) or did social isolation lead him to jihadism?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To paraphrase James Carville:

"It's the Islam, stupid."

Period.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Chechens are enraged by atrocities by Russians...so they blow up Americans in the name of jihad?

Not unless they believe that we are in bed with the Russians. Or..no different from the Russians, I suppose.

Fighting the Christians, the Jews and the atheists...in an all-front war for Sharia.

Don't the radical Islamists know that our radical leftists are really in their corner? Revolutionary brotherhood surpasses "national pride", of which there is exactly...none...emanating from the left in our country.

And, it's a bit odd to think that they would bomb New York, Massachusetts, an airport tarmac in Detroit and go sniping in Washington, D.C. Blow up synagogues in Seattle, ...all hotbeds of flaming leftism.

Why do they feel safe there?

Because if you treat yourself like a doormat, you can't be heard to complain when people wipe their feet on you. And...our government, our media, our academia, and our entertainment/pop culture...treat America and Americans like doormats, inviting the world to wipe their feet on us...daily.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All