Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What The Boston Marathon Bombers Tell Us About Radicalization

When an act of terrorism is committed in the United States often the initial assessment of it or the perpetrators is inaccurate or wrong.  This is becoming clear in the investigation into the recent bombing of the Boston Marathon by the Tsarnaev brothers.  As we search to find the motive behind the attack, we often hear the term radicalization bantered about.
Understanding what it is and, more importantly, what it is not is crucial in preventing future acts from individuals who think they have a divine right to kill innocent women and children or maim civilians at a public event.
Notwithstanding Peter Bergen, of the New America Foundation analysis of the term and how it applied to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar.  They were not "self-radicalized"
When we hear that we think in terms of self-taught or self hypnotized.  When it comes to radicalization nothing could be further from the truth.
According to the National Counter Terrorism Center, "Radicalization is a dynamic and multilayered process involving several factors that interact with one another to influence an individual.  The process is influenced by internal and external factors"
As someone who has observed the process during my career I can emphatically tell you there are always external factors.  The case of the Tsarnaevs is no different.
In their case there was overseas travel and contact with radical Islamic extremists.  This information was provided to us by the Russian intelligence agency two years ago.  It has been confirmed by the FBI and the CIA.  Now we are finding out that there was at least one individual in the united states, "Misha" who acted as a facilitator in radicalization process.  There was also a religious organization, in this case the Islamic Society of Boston, with a history of radicalization either with former members who were tried and convicted of terrorism or inflammatory speakers who incited others to act.

The same external factors were also evident with several other individuals who either committed acts of terrorism or conspired to act before they were stopped by law enforcement.
Among them were Carlos Bledsoe, Nidal Hasan, and Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber.

A terrorist is not hatched overnight nor does he live in a vacuum devoid of outside influences that shape his thoughts and actions.  The myth of "self radicalization" attempts to simplify a complex issue and as a result it confuses the public.  More importantly it absolves responsibility of those who were involved in radicalizing the terrorist brothers.  As the investigation continues and more information about case is developed, we cannot overlook the obvious.   Those who contributed to the radicalization of the Boston Bombers must be held accountable.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Radical Terrorist Becomes Scholar and Heroine

David Gilbert  
If you wait long enough, anything is possible on Broadway or in Hollywood. Yesterday’s villain can become tomorrow’s hero or in the case of Kathy Boudin, former member of the domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground and convicted murderer, a heroine.

Boudin,  sentenced to a life term in New York State  for the shooting deaths of two policemen, Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown as well as Brinks security guard Peter Paige was paroled in 2003 after serving twenty two years in prison for the three homicides.  The officers were killed in a shootout with members of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army after a failed bank robbery in 1981.  Boudin minimized her role in the slayings by simply saying she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yet the groups that she was involved with utilized explosives and automatic weapons to destroy property, take lives, and instill fear in ordinary citizens through violence.  If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is.
Today we read that Ms. Boudin has been quite active since her parole.   She has been working as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and was recently awarded the Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence at NYU Law School.  And if being honored as a scholar was not enough, she is to receive accolades as a heroine in Robert Redford’s soon to be released movie, “The Company You Keep”  based on the activities on Boudin and her former husband David Gilbert, currently serving three life sentences in Auburn State Prison for his role in the shooting deaths of O’Grady, Brown, and Paige.  David has also received some portion of fame with his book,
“No Surrender” an unrepentant account of his life as a terrorist.  David is also actively involved in several radical organizations including Viva Palestina, even while incarcerated.  Could release be just around the corner for him?  Unfortunately he does not see the Parole Board until 2056 when he will be 112 years old.

Their son, Chesa Boudin, who was left at the babysitter’s while they went off to steal and kill was raised by former Weather Underground members Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn.  Chesa went on to become a Yale grad and a Rhodes Scholar while the nine children left behind  struggled to make their way in this world without the benefit of  a father taken by the violence of domestic terrorism.

No PR firm in the world could have scripted a better image conversion than the makeover given Ms. Boudin.  We are told she is an advocate for AIDS patients and adult education.  Her students at Columbia are said to adore her, a regular Mother Teresa to ex-cons and their families as they seek to reenter society.

She was a daughter of privilege who fell from grace but has now returned to bless us with her talents.

But the blood on her hands does not wash off that easily, nor does the stained ground where her victims fell. Twenty two years for three lives and now a heroine.  The price of fame may have come cheap to her, but the average citizen is not fooled by the glitter