As a result of the Boston Marathon Bombing many intelligence analysts and reporters have been forced to re-examine the role Chechnya and neighboring Caucuses states may play in future terror attacks. Certainly within the Russian government there is no doubt that the Chechens, Inigushetians, Dagestanis and others remain a major threat to internal stability. Nations outside of Russia must now closely study the mindset of the Chechen diaspora to try to understand if the Tsarnaev brothers actions were a one-off event or the start of something even more serious. Serious attacks attributed to Chechen separatists, including the Beslan School Hostage Crisis and the 2002 Moscow Theater hostage crisis must be reconsidered alongside the Boston Bombings. Concrete steps to prevent these gross actions must be taken now.
One of these steps must be to learn as much as we can about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's conversion to radical Islamic beliefs. Articles such as the controversial Rolling Stone cover story, Jahar's World, among others, represent only a preliminary examination of the phenomena. It is too close to the actual event. The tears have not yet dried. The anger has not yet turned to calm determination aimed at getting to the real causes.
Some in the intelligence community will no doubt claim this type of understanding has already been achieved. More than a decade has passed since September 11, 2001 and nearly 20 years since the Oklahoma City Bombing of April 19, 1995. Hundreds of professors and analysts have poured over the known facts and ideologies behind all types of religious extremism. Important works on these matters such as M.J. Gohari's The Taliban Ascent to Power (2000, Oxford University Press) and Richard Antoun's Understanding Fundamentalism (2001, AltaMira Press) existed prior to 911 but still sit just below the radar screens of the decision-makers.
We may think we know what breeds a bomber or causes a violent uprising but we still don't know enough to stop them before they go off. The lines between domestic terrorism and global terrorism are now blurred but the acts themselves will continue, we cannot forget that for a moment. Complacency may not be the right word, after all the CIA, FBI, NSA, MI6 and Interpol together spend billions of dollars a year, but among the greater population complacency is the right word. Unlike the characters in Terry Gilliam's important film, Brazil (1985), we cannot afford to grow used to the notion that random bombings are just going to happen no matter what we do. The citizens of Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan probably already feel this way.
With regards to U.S. actions, it seems only logical that the State Department, Department of Agriculture or the Peace Corps are better suited towards implementing long-term solutions than the Department of Defense. Yet in reality the specific actions taken by private firms would be less suspect and more effective. We can hardly expect General Motors or Proctor & Gamble to open new plants in Grozny, Karachi, Baghdad or Kabul. But major firms all over the world can initiate business partnerships with existing businesses in these places. Universities can establish working relationships with educational institutions outside of the usual European, Asian or South American cities they now associate with. Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) can start new projects sponsored by various donors, public and private. These are the types of projects that will bring about lasting economic change, hope for a brighter future and reduce the chances of violent unrest or bombings.
Taking the same amount of money we spend on surveillance or more and investing it in job-creating economic renewal projects including schools, offices, factories and cultural centers is definitely a better solution. We must finance projects that reduce unemployment and increase hope for a brighter future. We must get better at countering the arguments of radical imams, rabbis, priests, pundits and others before they incite the more easily convinced that mass murder can somehow solve a problem. Free speech can work for and against the goal of a peaceful society. Long-term studies can be conducted to prove this hypothesis but time is of essence. It would be better to start now by improving the quality of life and overall education available to the groups facing the most economic hardship.