Posts Tagged ‘Chechen Muslim’

Terrorism on U.S. soil: By criminal or enemy combatant?

April 22, 2013

With the Boston Marathon bombing  suspects no longer threats to the American public, focus is turning quickly to  how such an attack could have happened and whether the Chechen Muslim brothers  had ties to al Qaeda or other global jihadist  movements.

By Ben Wolfgang
The Washington Times

But there is another, more politically contentious question: Should the Obama administration designate 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant”  bent on waging war against the U.S.?

Republicans say the answer is yes, and many argued on the Sunday morning talk  shows that the White House could lose  valuable intelligence if it mishandles the suspect’s questioning or accedes to  demands for attorneys or an invocation of a criminal defendant’s right to remain  silent.

“The reason for it is there are so many questions unanswered, there are so  many potential links to terrorism here,” said Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and  chairman of the House  Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. He also  laid out another reason why, in his mind, Mr. Tsarnaev deserves the label of enemy  combatant.

“The battlefield is now in the United States,” he said.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona,  Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire expressed similar  sentiments over the weekend.

But the Obama administration has invoked  a “public-safety exception” that will let federal law enforcement question the  suspect for at least 48 hours before reading him his Miranda rights. After that,  Mr. Tsarnaev presumably will be treated  as a criminal suspect and put through the civilian justice system.

Democrats on Sunday lined up behind the White  House’s rationale, consistent with its larger policy of dealing with  terrorist suspects through the civilian court system in most cases.

“I don’t think we have to cross the line and say he should be an enemy  combatant,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer,  New York Democrat, said during an interview on CNN’s  “State of the Union.” Sen. Dianne  Feinstein, California Democrat, and others in her party expressed similar  thoughts Sunday.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a  Democrat, said he believes the administration will make the right decision on  how to handle the suspect.

“I trust the attorney general to make that call,” Mr.  Patrick said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Regardless, authorities probably have conducted little direct questioning  because Mr. Tsarnaev is in serious  condition at the intensive care unit of a Boston hospital and reportedly is  unable to speak because of gunshot wounds to his neck.

The debate over what to do with the surviving bombing suspect is only half of  the equation. Equal attention has been paid to 26-year-old Tamerlan  Tsarnaev  who was killed in a shootout Thursday night  and how authorities,  including the FBI, never  picked up on his intentions.

There is now widespread speculation that he may have been trained by an  Islamist terrorist organization in Chechnya, where he traveled for six months  last year but apparently returned to the U.S. without raising much  suspicion.

“I personally believe that this man received training when he was over  there,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas  Republican, said on “State of the Union.” Citing the pressure cooker bombs used  in the attacks, he added, “You don’t learn that overnight.”

Mr. McCaul also said that the Chechen  rebels, who have been engaged for decades in a conflict with Russia in the  majority-Muslim province, are “some of the fiercest jihadist warriors out  there.”

Some also are questioning how the FBI,  which reportedly interviewed Tamerlan  Tsarnaev, missed the warning signs.

Mr. Graham said the fact that he  traveled to Chechnya and talked online about killing American citizens should  have tipped off authorities.

“Either our laws are insufficient or the FBI failed, but we’re at war with radical Islamists and we need to up our game,” he  said on CNN.

Mr. King echoed those sentiments, arguing  that political correctness must not get in the way of a full investigation into  whether the brothers were working as part of a larger Muslim terrorist  organization.

“Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are outstanding Americans, but the fact is,  that’s where the threat is coming from,” he said.

Boston’s Muslim community has strongly condemned the attacks. The Islamic  Society of Boston Cultural Center said in a statement over the weekend that the  city’s Muslims are “angry” about the bombings and “hurt” by the fact they could  not prevent the attacks.

Susan Crabtree contributed to this report.

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