Boston Bombers Bring Echo of Chechnya's Legacy of Violence

Russian Invasions Unleashed Some of Europe's Worst Bloodshed in Generations

By Reuters

Published April 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

During the lifetime of the two Boston bombing suspects, their homeland Chechnya has seen two Russian invasions unleash some of Europe’s worst bloodshed in generations, and produced fighters who have carried out horrific attacks on civilians.

So far there has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks on the Boston Marathon or evidence made public of the motivations of the suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Both have left a trail on the Internet suggesting they were devout Muslims, proud of their Chechen heritage and supportive of the region’s bid for independence from Moscow.

Although it is not clear whether they ever lived in Chechnya, they were both enrolled in a school in Dagestan, a neighbouring region that was drawn into Chechnya’s violence during the 1990s and has since become the focal point for a simmering Islamist insurgency.

Both provinces are part of the North Caucasus, a mountainous strip of southern Russia populated mainly by Muslim ethnic minorities, with a history of rebellion against Moscow - and brutal Russian repression - dating back centuries.

In Tsarist times, Russian forces fought constant wars against fighters from the Chechen, Dagestani, Ingush and other ethnic groups. Under Stalin, the entire Chechen people was deported to distant central Asia as a potentially hostile nation. Although some returned, some stayed, and there have been reports that the Tsarnaevs were raised in remote Kyrgyzstan.

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Chechens sought independence like the people of the 14 other ex-Soviet republics that left Moscow’s orbit. But Moscow decided to fight rather than let them leave.

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in 1993 at a time when Chechnya was pursuing its independence, and his given name Dzhokhar is that of Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Chechen secessionist leader of the time. Dudayev was killed by a Russian missile in 1996 as his rebel forces were inflicting a humiliating defeat on Russian troops.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.