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Motives Questioned For Alleged Boston Marathon Bombers Of Chechen Descent

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TWC News: Motives Questioned For Alleged Boston Marathon Bombers Of Chechen Descent
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With the Tsarnaev brothers identified as Chechen by heritage, the question is now being raised if their motives were political or religious at all. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.

Chechnya is located in the North Caucasus region of Russia, a region that's become a hotbed of separatist and Islamic fundamentalist activity.

Tensions flared in the early to mid-'90s inside the breakaway republic. That conflict quickly turned into a struggle between eastern and western philosophies, and spilled over into neighboring Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic.

Dagestan is where the father of 19 year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is believed to be living now, and where Tsarnaev was living before moving to the U.S. about a decade ago.

"It's an area with grinding poverty, massive levels of corruption, that frankly feels itself, again, in imperial possession of the Russians, abused and badly administered," said Dr. Marc Galeotti of the NYU Center for Global Affairs.

Galeotti has studied internal and external security concerns of Russia, as well as well as of former Soviet republics.

He said Chechen history is dominated by a theme: struggle against authority.

Most of the time, it's been Russian authority. Under Stalin, for example, many Chechens perished in the gulags. And generations have not forgotten.

"It was very very harshly dealt with, and, as a result, a fraction of the Chechens moved towards wider Islamic jihadist ideology," Galeotti said. "They decided the problem wasn't just the Russians. It was the whole world system."

In 2002, Chechen terrorists took a movie theater hostage, which ended with 129 people dead. In 2004, the massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan claimed 330 lives.

Other attacks or foiled plots by alleged Chechens have been less organized.

"Quite recently, there were a couple of Chechens arrested by the Spanish authorities trying to actually, again, plant bombs," Galeotti said. "Fortunately, they were arrested before they could do anything. But again, it's a small cell of people who radicalize among themselves, then look to the Internet for advice."

If a definitive link is made between the Tsarnaev brothers and a political or religious motive, the Boston bombings would be the first time an attack with roots in the Chechnya area took place in the United States.

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