The Tsarnaev Family Is Beginning To Look A Little SpookyPosted: April 27, 2013
Ruslan Tsarni, pictured above talking to reporters, is brother to Ansor Tsarnaev and uncle to Ansor’s sons Dzhokhor and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Another brother, Alvi Tsarni, lives fairly close to Ruslan. At some point Ruslan and Alvi had their surnames legally changed.
As you can see from the photo above, Ruslan Tsarni lives in a rather stately, expensive-looking home. He has been identified in news reports as “a corporate lawyer and oil company executive.”
I’ve been floating around Twitter, Google, and Facebook for the past few days, mainly trying to find out anything I can about the mysterious “Misha,” who supposedly influenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev beginning some time in 2010.
I don’t want to get into too much in the way of conspiracy theory, so I’m just going to lay out the facts that are being reported around the internet and let the chips fall where they may. I really don’t know what it all means–maybe nothing–but there are certainly some interesting connections coming out.
I’ll get to the “Misha” story a little later; first some background on Uncle Ruslan, who has some “spooky” connections (pun intended). Daniel Hopsicker, who is somewhat eccentric but IMHO an excellent researcher and writer, has dug up some very suggestive stuff about Ruslan Tsarni. I got some additional information from this post at Democratic Underground.
The uncle of the two men who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon, who struck the only grace note in an otherwise horrific week, worked as a “consultant” for the Agency for International Development (USAID) a U.S. Government Agency often used for cover by agents of the CIA, in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan during the “Wild West” days of the early 1990’s, when anything that wasn’t nailed down in that country was up for grabs.
“Uncle Ruslan” Tsarni of Montgomery Village Md., whose name was the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter last Friday for his plain-spoken condemnation of his two nephews, has had a checkered business career, that began well before he graduated (as Ruslan Z Tsarnaev) from Duke Law School in 1998.
Tsarni was also a Halliburton contractor:
Ruslan’s involvement with USAID, while suggestive, might still be irrelevant, were it not for the discovery of his decade-long involvement with companies in the orbit of the Sun God, Halliburton, which stands accused in numerous and increasingly-credible accounts as “lead dog” in an invading force of “non-state actors.”
All of this, mind, was in support of a noble cause. We were fighting communism. No, wait? We weren’t anymore.
Still, we must have been fighting something. Wait. It’ll come to me…Maybe it was a push to weaken Russia’s grip over former Soviet Republics. That sounds like an admirable goal. Alas, the means chosen to achieve it involved providing covert U.S. support, in Chechnya, to Islamic terrorists.
Haven’t we all already see that movie? No one with a functioning heart could be anxious to see it again. But, wait! Does Dick have a functioning heart?
Hopsicker has a pretty colorful writing style, and you can read all the details at his blog, but briefly, in 2005 Ruslan Tsarni went to work for Big Sky Energy (a Halliburton subsidiary) as Vice President, Business Development & Corporate Secretary. Before that Tsarni worked for two other Halliburton-connected companies, Nelson Resources and Golden Eagle Partners.
Here is Tsarni’s employment history, as summarized by Blue Sky Energy:
Mr. Ruslan Z. Tsarni, a U.S. citizen, has over 10 years of professional experience in oil and gas legislation and corporate law. Previously, Mr. Tsarni served as Corporate Counsel of Nelson Resources Limited Group of companies, as well as Managing Director of several of its operating subsidiaries, responsible for all matters relating to corporate governance and placements and filing requirements under the securities regulations of Toronto Stock Exchange and AIM. He worked with financial institutions and banks on raising funds for acquisition and development of the assets operated by Nelson’s subsidiaries, as well as managed legal and administrative matters for all such subsidiaries. From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Tsarni worked as Head of Legal Affairs of Golden Eagle Partners LLC where he developed downstream and upstream oil and gas businesses in Kazakhstan and served as Managing Director of its wholly owned subsidiary Tobe LLP. From 1998 to 1999 Mr. Tsarni worked as Senior Associate with Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn providing legal advise to major multinational companies on different aspects of Kazakhstan legal issues on development of mineral resources, corporations, taxation, currency, customs, employment, banking, bankruptcy and trade marks. From 1994 to 1996, Mr. Tsarni served as a consultant for Financial Markets International LLC and Arthur Andersen LLP contracted by USAID for projects aimed to develop securities markets in Central Asia, where he trained corporate governance and corporate finance principals to state and private companies.
A final interesting fact is that Ruslan Tsarni used to be married to Samantha Ankara Fuller, who is the daughter of former “top CIA agent” Graham Fuller. Hopsicker again:
Ruslan Tsarni married the daughter of former top CIA official Graham Fuller, who spent 20 years as operations officer in Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong. In 1982 Fuller was appointed the National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia at the CIA, and in 1986, under Ronald Reagan, he became the Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, with overall responsibility for national level strategic forecasting.
At the time of their marriage, Ruslan Tsarni was known as Ruslan Tsarnaev, the same last name as his nephews Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged bombers….
…sometime in the early 1990’s, while she was a graduate student in North Carolina, and he was in law school at Duke, Ruslan Tsarnaev met and married Samantha Ankara Fuller, the daughter of Graham and Prudence Fuller of Rockville Maryland. Her middle name suggests a reference to one of her father’s CIA postings.
According to tweets from Laura Rozen of Foreign Policy Magazine, who contacted Graham Fuller directly,
Graham Fuller confirmed to me his daughter was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev for 3-4 yrs, divorced 1999. He retired from Agency in 1987.
‘Absurd’ to claim Ruslan had links to Agency thru him, Fuller tells me. He’d been retired from agency 10 years before daughter’s marrage (sic)
She wrote a post about it here.
Graham Fuller’s daughter, Samantha A. Fuller, was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (now Tsarni) in the mid-1990s, and divorced in 1999, according to North Carolina public records. The elder Fuller had retired from the agency almost a decade before the brief marriage….
Fuller said his former son in law was interesting but homesick, and moved back to Central Asia after the divorce.
“Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics, [although] he did try to contact other Chechens around,” Fuller continued. “He also felt homesick and eventually went back to Central Asia after the divorce. His English was shaky. (We always spoke Russian together).”
A story on the Internet implying “possible connections between Ruslan and the Agency through me are absurd,” Fuller said.
“I doubt [Ruslan] even had much to say of intelligence value other than talking about his own family’s sad tale of deportation from Chechnya by Stalin to Central Asia,” Fuller said. “Every Chechen family has such stories.”
But let’s just keep in mind that Fuller’s history with the CIA is somewhat troubling. According to Wikipedia,
Fuller was identified as the author of a 1985 study that according to the New York Times was “instrumental” in the decision of the Reagan Administration to secretly contact leaders in Iran and “eventually led to the covert sale of United States weapons to Teheran in what became the Iran-Contra Affair.” The document suggested that the Soviet Union was in position to influence Iran and that the United States might gain influence by selling arms to the country. According to Fuller, he had revised his opinion as the situation developed, but though he had told Government officials, a written report on the change was not circulated. Fuller denied that the original “think piece” he had prepared with Howard Teicher was “tailored… to support Administration policy.”
After Fuller officially left the CIA in 1987, he worked for the Rand Corporation, another organization known for providing cover for CIA agents.
Some further push back came from Bruce Hill Gaston, who was Director of Big Sky Energy. Here is their summary of his resume.
Mr. Gaston is a financial control, risk management, capital markets, and corporate finance specialist with a significant background in the Eurasian oil and gas marketplace. Mr. Gaston was previously a Senior Associate Director of Deutsche Morgan Grenfell based initially in London and then in Tokyo. While in London with Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Mr. Gaston was involved in risk management and advisory for the Russian and Eastern European sovereign debt trading and financial structuring. Mr. Gaston has been a consultant with a boutique Eurasian corporate finance and risk management consultancy since late 1999 supporting clients including the Royal Bank of Scotland Asia and Barclays Capital. Mr. Gaston has also served as a Director of Deloitte & Touche Central Asia through 2002 and was previously head of Russian Equities for Commerzbank AG in 1998 and 1999. Mr. Gaston has also served with Credit Suisse Financial Products as an accountant and Bankers Trust as an Assistant Treasurer and started his financial career as a graduate on the trading floor of Chase Manhattan NA in 1987. Mr. Gaston has been an advisor to Eastern European governments on privatization, Oil and Gas clients on Financial Control Process Engineering, and has considerable experience in Risk Management in global markets and within the Eastern European Emerging Markets sector. Mr. Gaston’s educational achievements include a BA in July 1987 from the University of New Brunswick, followed by an MSc in Economics from the University of London in December 1990
Both Hopsicker and HiPointDem, the author of the DU article, provide links to articles that allege underhanded dealings–including accusations of money laundering–by Blue Sky Energy. Gaston took to Twitter yesterday to counter these allegations:
Some rabidly exagerated rumours being published about Big Sky. Very entertaining and very untrue. I guess the truth doesn’t sell papers.
Every cent of every dollar raised by Big Sky is extensively documented in their SEC reports required by their NASDAQ listing. They are clean.
Big Sky Energy was asset stripped in Kazakhstan, which is the OPPOSITE of money laundering. If there was money laundering, it wasn’t Big Sky
Now to the “Misha” issue. Lots of people have been suggesting that maybe Misha was an FBI operative who was trying to draw Tamerlan and Dzhokhor into one of their famous sting operations. Perhaps Tamerlan said he wasn’t interested and the FBI gave up on him; then the brothers went ahead on their own.
Trevor Aaronson, who wrote a stunning 2011 series about the FBI’s use of informants at Mother Jones and followed that up with a book on the subject, The Terror Factory, published another piece at Mother Jones yesterday: How the FBI in Boston May Have Pursued the Wrong “Terrorist.” According to Aaronson, the FBI may have shifted their attention to another “terrorist” prospect in the Boston area–remember the guy who supposedly wanted to attack the White House with miniature drones?
In January 2011, when the FBI looked into the alleged Boston Marathon bomber and dismissed him as a potential threat, agents in the Boston field office pursued another person they suspected could be a terrorist. While they apparently decided to stop tracking Tsarnaev—whose six-month trip to Russia at that time is now of prime interest to investigators—the FBI conducted a sting operation against an unrelated young Muslim man who had a fantastical plan for attacking the US Capitol with a remote-controlled airplane.
The way in which the FBI investigated these two potential extremists may help begin to explain how the federal government failed to prevent Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhohkar, from setting off lethal bombs in the streets of Boston. The task of anticipating and stopping a terrorist attack is exceedingly complicated, and the full extent of what the FBI may have known about the Tsarnaev brothers remains unclear. Some congressional leaders are now seeking further explanation. But the contrast of the two cases undertaken in Boston in early 2011 raises questions about the effectiveness of the FBI’s counterterrorism strategy.
Read more at the link. I was actually going to write about this yesterday, but took a nap instead. This morning I noticed that Joseph Cannon has written it better than I could, so I’ll refer you to his post: Was Misha Nash?
Obviously it’s way too early to know if “Misha” was an FBI informer, but there is some evidence that Tamerlan may have felt betrayed by his mentor. Tamerlan posted a comment on a video on Youtube of a man named Misha being interviewed by a man with a beard. I spent a long time trying to make sense of the comment and video with Google translator, and I found some Russian speakers on Youtube who were doing the same. Today I found an article at CBS news that summarizes the video and discusses Tamerlan’s comment.
On his YouTube channel, Tsarnaev directs comments to “Misha”, and appears angry with the latter’s recent conversion to Shiism.
Tamerlan writes, “You’re not Mikael anymore, but you’re back to being Misha, as you were before Islam. You converted to Shiism not because you truly believe in it, but because of your own whims and interests (only Allah knows what they truly are). As you entered Islam, you have exited it. [With the same ease]. You have betrayed yourself, Misha. Whatever, goodbye.”
Is it possible that Tamerlan became disillusioned with Misha and that, along with the end of his boxing career, somehow pushed him to get involved in bomb making? Of course, as CBS notes:
There is no proof that the person in the particular YouTube video, above, is this Misha.
Mikael is the full-name of the Russian nickname Misha, which in turn is the name of the mysterious figure Tsarnaev apparently mentioned as a religious influence to people close to him….
In the uploaded video, Misha is being interviewed in Russian by another man who remains unnamed throughout the 18-minute interview.
They speak about Misha’s conversion to Islam eight years ago, and his further conversion to Shiism, less than six months ago.
Misha says that he converted to Islam after he moved to Pyatigorsk, a city which borders Chechnya, and then to Shiite Islam in 2012.
He says “only in my opinion” does he agree more with the Shi’a interpretation of Islam versus the Sunni one, but he seems to remain objective when comparing both sects.
He compares different texts of the Koran, as well as different religious schools in the geographical area.
He speaks of Shiism, saying, “don’t allow flawed individuals to prevent others from adopting this school of Islam.”
I realize this post is ridiculously long, and I’m going to wrap it up–even though there is so much more information I could include. I’ll just end with the latest news on “Misha.” According to Eileen Sullivan and Matt Apuzzo at AP, the FBI believes they have identified “Misha” through a wiretapped call between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, in 2011 and another call between the mother and “someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case.”
Russia did not share this information with the U.S. until now.
In early 2011, the Russian FSB internal security service intercepted a conversation between Tamerlan and his mother vaguely discussing jihad, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation with reporters.
The two discussed the possibility of Tamerlan going to Palestine, but he told his mother he didn’t speak the language there, according to the officials, who reviewed the information Russia shared with the U.S.
In a second call, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva spoke with a man in the Caucasus region of Russia who was under FBI investigation. Jacqueline Maguire, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office, where that investigation was based, declined to comment.
There was no information in the conversation that suggested a plot inside the United States, officials said.
As for “Misha,”
Two U.S. officials say investigators believe they have identified Misha. While it was not clear whether the FBI had spoken to him, the officials said they have not found a connection between Misha and the Boston attack or terrorism in general.
I can’t help being suspicious that no one will identify “Misha” and why the FBI hasn’t brought him in for questioning. Did he move on to more fertile territory to rope another hapless loser into a sting operation? What Makes “investigators” so sure that there’s no connection between “Misha” and the seemingly startling transformation of Tsarnaev brothers?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It will probably come out eventually.