"Nash." It means "ours" in spook-speak. (Or at least it used to. Slang changes over time.) For some childish reason, I love
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. This view was advocated, in particular, by Max Fisher, a writer for The Atlantic. Fisher listed five reasons to suspect the publication was a hoax. 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. 
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