Islamism and the racist right: not incompatible

August 5, 2013 at 10:28 am (conspiracy theories, crime, fascism, islamism, Jim D, mental health, Racism, terror, tragedy, United States)

Above: the Tsarnaev brothers (Tamerian on right) immediately before the bombs went off

There’s something  thoroughly distasteful about the way elements of both left and right attempt to use terrorist incidents to bolster their predetermined agendas. Fox News (etc) will immediately point the finger at Islamists. Socialist Worker (UK) and their ilk will respond by reminding us that it’s not always Islamists who do these things, usually name-checking Timothy McVeigh and/or Anders Behring Breivik and concentrating upon the dangers of “Islamophobia.” As far as I’m aware, the “blowback” explanation/justification for terrorism is the exclusive preserve of a certain kind of leftist but I may even be wrong about that.

So I’m not about to draw sweeping conclusions from the revelation (to be aired on BBC Panorama tonight) that one of the (suspected) Boston bombers was simultaneously a militant Islamist and a subscriber to publications espousing white supremacy and anti-government conspiracy theories.

According to the BBC, Tamerian Tsarnaev possessed articles arguing that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma bombing were US government conspiracies, and another on “the rape of our gun rights.”

He also possessed material condemning US drone attacks and the plight of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

I opened by criticising those who use terrorist outrages to justify a simplistic political agenda, so I’ll try to avoid doing that myself. The motives of the Tsarnaev brothers are not obvious, and mental health may well be a factor. They were not members of any Islamist network. As ethnic Chechens, they spent their early years in a troubled and violent region. In the US, Tamerian lived a relatively comfortable and apparently conventional life, but seems to have become a militant Islamist when his boxing ambitions were frustrated due to his lack of citizenship.

The BBC quotes a friend of the brothers, saying: “He (Tamerian) just didn’t like America. He felt like America was just basically attacking all Middle Eastern countries…you know, trying to take their oil.”

And on the all-important (but too often overlooked) distinction between Islam and Islamism, it’s worth noting the words of Nicole Mossalam, spokesperson for the mosque that Tamerian occasionally visited:

“As far as connecting with the Islamic community here, to actually praying, being involved, doing acts of charity .. all these were pretty much lacking.

“I would say he was just a Muslim of convenience.”

* Panorama – ‘The Brothers who Bombed Boston’ will be screened tonight, Monday 5 August on BBC One and then on the BBC iPlayer in the UK.


  1. Sue r said,

    The spokeswoman from the mosque would say that, wouldn’t she. I believe that there have been other dodgy members of that mosque, although I can’t be bothered to do the research. Did you know that the family of the Tsarnaev’s back in Dagestan or Chechniya are heavily involved in Islamic politics? The mother is especially radical, but an uncle is the leader of some group of other. It’s not surprising that they had right-wing properganda, they hated any form of democracy or workers’ rights or socialism. Simple as that.

  2. jimmy glesga said,

    Old SueR on the ball again. The left should be attacking anti socialist Islamist nutters, why are they leaving it to the right. Too many Catholics infiltrated the left in Britain from the fifties and screwed it up by supporting the IRA scum and fascists like Galtieri. They never learn.

  3. Rosie said,

    White supremacists and Islamists have loads in common. They are full of antisemitism and crude conspiracy theories. They’re also full of outraged masculinity and resentment that they don’t have their proper place in the world that their colour/religion should enjoy as a matter of course. They are the entitled who have been dispossessed/.

    The difference between them is The Guardian would offer the Islamists writing gigs, while it tends to steer clear of the white supremacists.

  4. Sue R said,

    Let’s not forget that the Mufti of Jerusalem was offered sanctuary by Nazi Germany and raised Muslim brigades to fight in the Nazi cause. Sorry, no one will ever convince me that Islamicism is a ‘progressive’ philosophy. If it were then Islamic countries would have insistituted democratic rights before colonialism. Any civil liberties they enjoy are as a result of colonialism. (I am not arguing that imperialism is a Good Thing, but I think one has to understand its historic role.).

  5. Rosie said,

    I watched the programme and the white supremacy part was about half a sentence. The rest was personal disappointment and jihadism, as far as motives went.

    • jimmy glesga said,

      Rosie old thing. We all know the score by now what religious nutters are about and so do the lefties. The poor lefties are at a loss to say much about anything. They hardly comment on anything the Tories are doing to society. They just make up excuses for nutters that go on the rampage for idiotic reasons like religion.
      I doubt any of them read Marx.

    • Alec said,

      Yes. See that friend of theirs who said it was about, you know, oil like, or something.

      Murderous petulant man-childs who went on a killing spree because no-one was listening to them, and played chicken with FBI SWAT teams.


  6. Alec said,

    Re their hailing from a war-torn region. Remember Stalin deported Chechens en masse.

    Neither of this Beavis & Butthead duo was born in the Caucasus. The elder was born in a Buddhist-majority Republic whilst the younger was born thousands of miles away on the Chinese border.

    In 2001, they did move to the Northern Caucasus region, so at a pinch could have been affected by conflicts there. Or maybe not. Or, even if they were, it was in a way which thousands of their compatriots didn’t… not to mention arrivals from the devastating conflicts in sub Saharan Africa or Indo China didn’t.

    And definitely the way their uncle who disagreed with their actions most forcibly on live TV.

    I also take issue with the assertion that mental health issues might turn someone into a calculating urban terrorist.

    As for the supremacist literature, it’s an interesting revelation which deserves to be fleshed-out. TBH, when I first heard of the attack, my mind did drift to such goons because of the tendancy to attack symbols of cosmopolitan mixing.

    Then again, all it might show is that the sort of individual who detonates IEDs in crowded civilian areas has an affinity with other misanthropic scum.


  7. Andrew Coates said,

    The programme itself,as Rosie says, did not show much to show a far-right link. Other than the fact that one of the brothers subscribed to anti-gun control/right-wing survivalist magazines.

    There is a link between Islamist far-right and other types of the extreme-right.

    There are groups in France, such as the Parti Anti Sioniste (PAS) that combine the two strands. .

    But what unity there is, is almost always around hatred of the ‘Zionists’ -Jews.

    That wasn’t even mentioned in the programme last night.

  8. Rosie said,

    I’d imagine a far right/survivalist type of mag wouldn’t bother much about Islam and would spend its time denouncing the USA govt.

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