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Friday, April 26, 2013

Was Misha "nash"?

"Nash." It means "ours" in spook-speak. (Or at least it used to. Slang changes over time.) For some childish reason, I love that term.

This article in The Week is not your usual conspiracy theorist yada-yada. Writer Walter Katz argues that the mysterious "Misha" -- the Armenian convert to Islam who radicalized Boston bomber Tamerlan Tzarnaev -- may have been an FBI informant. In other words, he was nash.

No, we don't have hard evidence. But the idea has its attractions.

For one thing, it explains why the much-vaunted FBI -- not to mention our much-vaunted CIA, our much-vaunted press, and our much-vaunted legions of armchair internet Sherlocks -- have had no luck in locating this Misha personage. For another thing, it would explain the anomaly of an Armenian Muslim jihadi. (Armenians are Christians.)

Katz directs our attention to this 2011 Mother Jones piece by Trevor Aaronson, on the FBI's network of terrorist informants. Katz offers this precis:
According to Aaronson, the FBI "maintains a roster of 15,000 spies — many of them tasked… with infiltrating Muslim communities." In addition, for every officially recognized informant there are three unofficial informants. During the Mother Jones investigation with the University of California, Berkeley, they examined 508 terrorism-related cases. Of those, "nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants." Sting operations were used in cases brought against 158 defendants. The upshot is that "with three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings."

Aaronson described how the sting is typically started with the FBI assigning an informant to approach "the target posing as a radical." As the relationship develops, "the operative will propose a plot, provide explosives, even lead the target in a fake oath to Al Qaeda. Once enough incriminating information has been gathered, there's an arrest — and a press conference announcing another foiled plot." The question always remains, though, to what degree the plots come about from the target's own mind rather than through the machinations of the informant/agent provocateur.
We know that the Russian government had alerted the FBI and CIA to Tamerlan. It seems likely that the Russians overheard (or found out about) an electronic communication between Tamerlan and radicals in Chechnya. After the alert, the feds studied Tamerlan's internet trail and interviewed the man, finding nothing to justify arrest. But they put him on a list of people to watch.

Perhaps they decided to do more than watch. Katz:
In the experience I had as a criminal defense attorney, federal informants are moved around the country at will. They are like ghosts. Their names aren't real. They are from nowhere. They aren't very accountable for their actions as long they get their man.
If this be conspiracy theory, it's of a higher standard than the usual -- because, unlike the garbage offered by the likes of Alex Jones, this theory is falsifiable. To prove Katz wrong, the FBI need only give us some background on Misha -- give us a man, not a ghost. The feds have access to Tamerlan's entire computer history and phone records. How can they not have any clue as to Misha's identity?

By the way, please don't misinterpret my words here. I'm not saying that the feds engineered or desired the Boston bombing. Katz, if I read him aright, is suggesting that the feds attempted to "sting" Tamerlan -- to lure him into one of yet another plot that the FBI could foil "just in time." When he didn't bite, they dropped him. Then Tamerlan formulated plans of his own.

For what it's worth, an ABC News piece informs us Iran's government has suggested that the CIA is the force behind Inspire, the pro-Al Qaeda publication on Tamerlan's reading list. The article includes this hilarious bit:
Noting the general content of "Inspire" articles, a spokesperson for the CIA told ABC News, "There are some allegations that don't even deserve comment. This is one."
That's like saying: "Communism is bad. Therefore, FBI agents would never have joined the Communist Party USA during the Cold War."

The Wikipedia entry on Inspire offers further clues:
While the SITE Institute and at least one senior U.S. government official described Inspire as authentic, there was some speculation on jihadist websites and elsewhere that the magazine, due to its low quality, may have been a hoax.[31] This view was advocated, in particular, by Max Fisher, a writer for The Atlantic.[32] Fisher listed five reasons to suspect the publication was a hoax.[32] According to Fisher, the portable document format (PDF) file that contained the first issue also contained a computer virus. Fisher noted that the magazine contained an article by Abu Mu'sab al-Suri, noting that al-Suri had been in Guantanamo since 2005, and that whether he was actually tied to al Qaeda remained unclear. The article attributed to al-Suri was the beginning of a series that appeared in the next 5 issues of Inspire. These excerpts were all copied from a translation of Abu Musab al-Suri's "The Global Islamic Resistance Call" which was published in a 2008 biography of him. [33]

Peter Bergen, the national security analyst for CNN, describing it as "a slick Web-based publication, heavy on photographs and graphics that, unusually for a jihadist organ, is written in colloquial English", on March 31, 2011 discussed the column of Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of AQAP, in its fifth issue.
The computer virus -- probably a trojan designed to log and transmit everything on an infected computer -- might well be the main purpose of the publication. (Betcha didn't know that pdfs can contain malware.)

This Firedoglake piece by Kevin Gosztola argues that Awlaki was a direct influence on Tamerlane. Although Gosztola seems pretty hip, he won't actually come out and make the suggestion -- as I have -- that Awlaki was also "nash." Before you scoff, see here and here and here.
Comments:
I am kind of surprised that you did not give much space in writing about the most curious comment that came out the next day of the event. I am talking about what the track coach said about the huge presance of law enforcement agenacies and bomb sniffing dogs, he also said they told them there is going to be drills even after the first one explosed they calmed them down by saying it is only a drill. I couldn't undurstand why what he said is not been discussed widely in the news and every where. This should have been a major point in the investigation.
 
Anon, I devoted a longish post to that coach. It IS a troubling point. But if you look at the comments below that post, you'll see that most of my readers believe that this sort of police presence, at an event like the Boston Marathon, is not extraordinary.
 
I certainly DID know that PDF's can contain malware. That has been true for quite some time, though actual exploits have been fairly rare (though it's one of the reasons, though not the biggest, that there are so many 3rd party PDF readers).

As to the rest, I think you are definitely on to something. I think I suggested this possibility in a comment on a previous post about the bombing, though maybe that was somewhere else (Facebook, another blog, etc.), I can't recall.

My suggestion was more along the lines of, they set him up and provoked the incident, but much like what has been suggested about the World Trade Center bombing, something went wrong and a real bombs got planted and detonated. That could help explain all the different stories that were coming out, they were muddying the waters.

I actually think what you outline here makes a lot more sense though, that Tamerlane didn't actually take the bait, and then executed his own plan.


 
Some Armenian nationals are Muslims, including for example many Hemshinli people. Maybe Islam is growing among Armenians, as it is among Russians.

Statements such as "it is very unlikely an Armenian would become a Muslim" are silly, ambiguous, and misleading, but it's probable that if a member of the mainstream Armenian community in Boston converted to Islam, a lot of people would know about it.

Mikhail Allakhverdov lives in Rhode Island. He is said to be an Armenian refugee from Baku, Azerbaijan, who lives with his Christian Armenian father and his Ukrainian mother. Has he commented on the exorcism thing? And what's his birth surname? He could probably make a fortune selling a picture of himself with some magical paraphernalia or other, especially if he stares hard into the camera.
 
Joe, you may be right about Misha being nash.

Mikhail Allakhverdov is a director, as his brother, Dr Sergei U Allakhverdov-Amatuni, of the non-profit Educational Organization for Improvements in Historical Studies, Inc. His brother is also the Secretary of the (also non-profit) Transnational Assembly for Peace and Democracy in Chechnya Inc., which filed papers in Massachusetts as early as 2003. Other officers of the latter include Salman V. Masayev in Massachusetts (Director), and Dr Nadezhda Banchik (Assistant Secretary), whose address is in San Jose, California.

Here she is. She's a journalist, and she's also involved with the highly spooked-up organisation Amnesty International.

"She translated a profound monograph written by Dr. John Dunlop, Senior Associate of the Hoover Institution, Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of Separatist Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 1998) [nice work if you can get it! - b note], from English into Russian that was published by the Russian human rights center Memorial in 2001."

She told Al-Monitor she doesn't know the Allakhverdovs.

Here's a 1999 article featuring Sergei.

I wonder where they got that family name Allakhverdov. 'Amatuni' is an Armenian aristocratic name. It's clear from the 1999 article that Sergei knows a lot about that kind of stuff.

The 'exorcist' stuff doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Instead we're getting a lot of western-funded 'activism'. Here's Ms Banchik on Chechnya in 2003. And here she is, writing 'as a Jew' about Chechnya.

Interestingly, she writes some appalling shit about the Beslan massacre. She appears to be trying to justify it.

She fulminates in favour of Zionist support for Chechen nationalism.
 
I wouldn't be surprised if 'Misha' was introduced to the Tsarnaevs as 'Sergei's brother', but in fact was not the real Mikhail, Sergei's brother, at all.

Banchik certainly fails the duck test for spooks - if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
 
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