At a Friday congressional hearing, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will begin what’s sure to be the lengthy process of lawmakers diving into the Islamic terror threat from Chechnya and Dagestan.
But disturbing ties between the U.S. and Islamic radicals in the Caucasus region were known to authorities long before Tamerlan Tsarnaev was referred to the FBI by Russia and let go for what was deemed a lack of proof that he posed a threat to America.
The FBI’s Operation Blackbear back in 2001 identified people in the U.S. who were funding Islamists in Chechnya, including three individuals who met with Osama bin Laden.
Al-Haramain, which had its headquarters in Saudi Arabia, was disbanded by the Saudi government and labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. The feds caught on to a $150,000 donation from an Egyptian via London that the organization told the IRS was used to purchase a building for prayer in Missouri but really was carried from Oregon to Saudi Arabia, where the funds were ultimately smuggled into Chechnya.
“The FBI‘s role in battling crime takes many forms,” said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, at the time. “Our agents and our partners have to aggressively chase the evidence down whatever path we find… in this case, a trail of cash leading half way around the world.”
Also in 2010, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari was sentenced to 121 months behind bars for charges of terrorism financing and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the financing of terrorist training in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The New York bank underwriter was busted by trying to transfer money through an undercover officer.
During meetings with the undercover officer, Alishtari offered to introduce him to a “fire-breathing” imam member of the Muslim Brotherhood who worked as a “recruiter” for the Islamists in Bosnia and Chechnya. That imam had the worldview that “the axis of the Islamic world is about Jerusalem and defeating the Jews.”
The Islamic charity Global Relief Foundation, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006, “was actually a conduit for funding Islamic fighters engaged in battle throughout the world, including Chechnya.”
In August 2003, Enaam Arnaout, chief executive officer of the Benevolence International Foundation, another Islamic charity front, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on racketeering conspiracy charges for funneling donations to fighters in Chechnya.
These are just some of the cases linking American networks and Chechen Islamists in a pattern of support that undermines Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion today that the Tsarnaev brothers were simply “two twisted perverted cowardly knock-off jihadis here in Boston.”
“The truth is on every frontier, terrorism as a weapon is losing,” Biden insisted. “It is not gaining adherents.”
“We just had a young person who went to Russia, Chechnya, who blew people up in Boston. So he didn’t stay where he went, but he learned something where he went and he came back with a willingness to kill people,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Belgium. “I think the world has had enough of people who have no belief system, no policy for jobs, no policy for education, no policy for rule of law, but who just want to kill people because they don’t like what they see.”