William Plotnikov is a new figure that emerged in the story of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s conversion to violent extremist Islam.
Nicknamed “The Canadian”, William Plotnikov was a 23-year-old boxer from Canada who Tamerlan Tsarnaev met online and may have visited during his trip to Russia last year.
William Plotnikov, a Muslim convert from Toronto, could have spurred Tamerlan Tsarnaev to direct his against the US, new reports reveal.
The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Dagestan – a Russia republic torn by jihadist terrorism – to join an Islamic militia and fight against Russian forces in July 2012.
One day after William Plotnikov was killed by Russian security forces, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fled to Moscow. The next day he was back to the United States.
William Plotnikov, a Muslim convert from Toronto, could have spurred Tamerlan Tsarnaev to direct his against the US
Another contact Tamerlan Tsarnaev had in Dagestan – Makhmud Mansur Nidal, 19 – was also killed by Russian forces during his six-month visit to the war-torn region.
Novaya Gazeta suggests William Plotnikov may have turned Tamerlan Tsarnaev against the United States.
“It seems that Tamerlan Tsarnaev came to Dagestan with the aim of joining the insurgents. It didn’t work out..,” a security source told the newspaper.
“After Nidal and Plotnikov were destroyed and he lost his contacts, Tsarnaev got frightened and fled.”
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s parents moved them to the US from the troubled Dagestan region years ago.
The similarities between William Plotnikov – who was called “The Canadian” by the other militiamen – and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are uncanny.
Both men were competitive boxers as teenagers. Both seemed to have suddenly turned to radical Islam in 2009 and quickly became interested in violent jihad being waged in Dagestan – where Islamic militias are targeting the moderate Sufi Muslims and fighting Russian security forces who control the region.
Both were born in Russian republics and later moved to the West, where they struggled to fit in.
It is unknown whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev and William Plotnikov ever met in person.
At one point, Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited his aunt in Toronto – the same city where Plotnikov lived with his parents.
William Plotnikov seized and interviewed by Russian authorities in 2010. At that time told them that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was one of the people he communicated with online.
Novaya Gazeta reports that the two communicated via a site associated with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a non-governmental organization.
William Plotnikov was then released by the Russians and went on to join an Islamic militia and take up arms against Russian security forces in Dagestan.
In February 2012, Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Dagestan.
Novaya Gazeta reports that he was seen “more than once” by Russian intelligence units with Makhmud Mansur Nidal, 19, a half-Palestinian Dagestani who is believed responsible for a twin bomb attack in the capital Makhachkala that killed 13 people.
According to a new report, Russian authorities secretly recorded one of the Boston bombers discussing jihad with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, in 2011 but failed to alert U.S. security agencies.
U.S. officials were told for the first time this week that two calls of note were discovered when the Russian internal security service, the RSB, were bugging calls at the Tsarnaevs family home in Dagestan, according to reports.
The recording picked up a “vague conversation” about jihad between either Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev and their mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the Associated Press reported.
It also picked up a phone call between Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and a man under FBI investigation living in Southern Russia.
American security sources anonymously revealed the information to the news agency and said if the calls had been flagged to the FBI, the agency may have conducted a more detailed investigation into the two men.
There was no evidence of a plot against America in the calls, according to the report.
Russian authorities secretly recorded one of the Boston bombers discussing jihad with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, in 2011 but failed to alert U.S. security agencies
The news comes as the FBI attempts to defend itself against criticism that it failed to fully investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev that year.
In January, the FBI investigated and interviewed the family after Russian authorities flagged the elder bomber as a possible security threat.
It is not clear why the phone calls would not have been reported to American security officers as part of that briefing and the RSB were unavailable for comment.
Following their probe, the FBI concluded Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not present a threat and ceased monitoring him stating they saw no links to “terrorism activity, domestic or foreign”.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R. South Carolina) said the agency had “dropped the ball” in that probe.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that the Russian government followed up their concerns over Tamerlan Tsarnaev six months later – asking the CIA for whatever information it had on him.
It is not clear what prompted the Russian request but the CIA review agreed with the FBI that Tamerlan Tsarnaev posed no threat.
As a precaution they placed him on a 70,000 name watch-list called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE).
However, there were mistakes in both the spelling of his name and in his date of birth, so his six month departure from the country in 2012 wasn’t properly identified, according to the Times.
The first Russian request came in March 2011 through the FBI’s office in the United States Embassy in Moscow.
In a one-page request they said Tamerlan Tsarnaev “had changed drastically since 2010” and was preparing “to join unspecified underground groups”.
By June 2011 the FBI said they were satisfied he provided no threat and notified Russia.
They also added Tamerlan Tsarnaev to another watch-list – the Treasury Enforcement Communications System.
According to the Times, the FBI repeatedly went back to Russia to request more detail but they failed to provide any new information.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva has come under increasing scrutiny in recent days given her outspoken denial of her sons’ actions and wild accusations of a cover-up.
She has repeatedly said her sons were framed and even claimed blood on the streets, after the bombings, was paint.
On Friday, it emerged agents now consider Zubeidat Tsarnaeva “a person of interest” in their investigation.
“She [Zubeidat Tsarnaeva] is a person of interest that we’re looking at to see if she helped radicalize her son, or had contacts with other people or other terrorist groups,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat from Maryland, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, said.
Both sons appear to have had a close relationship with their mother.
Just before his death Tamerlan Tsarnaev made a final call to her saying: “Mama I love you.”
She was intending to travel with her husband to the U.S. last week but both delayed those plans.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said any suggestion she has links to terrorist activity are “lies and hypocrisy”.
Bouchra Bagour has gone on trial in southern France for sending her 3-year-old son to nursery school wearing a T-shirt reading “I am a bomb” and “Born on September 11”.
Bouchra Bagour, 35, was reported to police by the teacher last September, and charged with “glorifying crime”.
At the start of her trial in Avignon, Bouchra Bagour denied defending terrorism.
Bouchra Bagour’s brother – who gave the T-shirt to her three-year-old son named Jihad – is a co-defendant in the case and also denies the charge.
The T-shirt, which the boy wore to school in Sorgues near Avignon on September 24, read “I am a bomb” on the front and “Jihad, born on September 11” on the back.
On Wednesday Bouchra Bagour told the court she had put it on him “without stopping to think about it”.
Bouchra Bagour has gone on trial in southern France for sending her 3-year-old son to nursery school wearing a T-shirt reading I am a bomb and Born on September 11
She insisted it was not meant as a provocation and stressed that her son had been born on September 11.
Zeyad Bagour said he had never sought to defend any cause by buying the T-shirt.
“It’s the day his birth I wanted to highlight, not the year,” he told the court.
The prosecution argued that the defendants had shown no regret.
“Who can claim that this is not an direct and scandalous allusion to terrorism?” a prosecutor asked.
He called for a fine of 1,000 euros ($1,300) against Bouchra Bagour and 3,000 euros for her brother.
The trail has been adjourned until next month.