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Blogosphere Sees CIA Plot in Boston Bombings

Let's face it: Terrorism has become a fact of life. Not a day goes by without television news reporting how many people have been killed in a terrorist attack in Baghdad, Kabul or Damascus. We are so used to hearing these death statistics that most of us respond to them as if it were the weather report.

Is it a wonder that the pain of victims far away no longer touches people? There is, however, a difference between indifference and malicious pleasure at someone's suffering. On the day of the Boston marathon bombings, Kristina Potupchik, one of the managers of Kremlin-funded Internet projects, wrote on Twitter: "We're discussing Boston. I don't feel a drop of pity for them [the Americans]. They blew themselves up. Friggin' morons." This bit of inhumanity got Potupchik her 15 minutes of Internet fame, and that was it. On the Russian information map, Boston is just about as far from Moscow as Kabul.

But as soon as the Russian-Chechen trail appeared in the Boston bombings, the indifference on Russian Internet evaporated instantly. The suspicion that two Chechen brothers with parents in Russia organized the terrorist attack made things awkward for many. This included the Czech Embassy in Washington, which was compelled to issue a special announcement explaining the indisputable geographical fact that the Czech Republic and Chechnya are different places.

But it also made things awkward for the army of Russian conspiracy nuts who had been confidently asserting on the Russian blogosphere that the terrorist attack was, of course, organized by the CIA. Conspiracy lunatics, like religious fanatics, are not swayed by facts. After a couple of hours, the conspiracy theories mutated into new ugly forms. One version asserted that the Tsarnaev brothers had been turned into zombies by the CIA, which was easy since "more than half the citizens of the U.S. are socially dangerous psychos who exist on daily doses of anti-depressants."

A more global view was that "Washington used the services of al-Qaida and Chechens to put an end to negotiations for visa-free travel and harm Russia's image in the world." And then there was the exotic theory that the "terrorist attack in Boston was ordered by people who are against the Sochi Olympics in 2014."

Behind the fog of conspiracy paranoia is the main question raised by the Boston bombings. What made these young men, who have lived in the U.S. for many years, commit such a senseless and violent act? The poet Alexei Tsvetkov, who lives in New York, wrote on Colta.ru, "It was all caused by a failure to adapt."

The problem with Tsvetkov's theory is that the Tsarnaev brothers actually were pretty good examples of successful adaptation. True, the older brother complained that he didn't have any American friends, but he married his high school sweetheart and had a child. An acquaintance recalled them driving around the neighborhood in a Mercedes. The younger Tsarnaev was also described by his roommates as a good guy and an excellent athlete. One woman college student even confessed that she once had "a slight crush on him."

Russian Orthodox Church Deacon Andrei Kurayev seems to believe that the problem with the brothers was not something that could be solved by a good psychiatrist. "One could agree with the thesis that terrorists don't have nationality or religion if members of the world's religions took turns committing terrorist attacks," he wrote on his LiveJournal blog. "If, say, Buddhists attacked a school, Taoists blew up a plane or Christians bombed a movie theater, we could all repeat the banality that there are bad apples in every ethnic barrel. Perhaps Islamic terrorism is the result of a distortion of the Koran," Kurayev wrote. "But it's the Koran being distorted, not Winnie-the-Pooh. Terrorists proclaim that they are ready to fight for Islam, not soccer."

One can only hope that the investigation provides answers to many important questions, such as why the Russian intelligence services asked the FBI to look into the older Tsarnaev brother in 2011, when he'd moved to the U.S. when he was 15. What did he do during his six-month visit to the Russia in 2012, after which he began to post videos of radical Islamic sermons and songs on YouTube?

Right now, there is only one conclusion about the Boston tragedy: In a global world, there are no local conflicts. The catastrophe of 9/11 was in large part the result of the indifference of the Western world to what was going on in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Indifference to the horrors of the Chechen wars produced huge numbers of refugees, including the Tsarnaev brothers, who had been born abroad and never lived a single day in the land of their ancestors and culture. For Europeans and Americans not to see more horror on the streets in the future, today they must pay more attention to places where people are being killed and do something about it now.

Victor Davidoff is a Moscow-based writer and journalist who follows the Russian blogosphere in his biweekly column.

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