|Middle row, second from the left.|
Statements attributed to the surviving accused Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, indicate that the two brothers were inspired by the writings and teachings of Mustafa Setmariam Nasar*, the Syrian Al-Qaeda theoretician whom the United States chose to ignore in 2004-2005. Nasar was living openly in Venezuela, having hurriedly fled there from his involvement in the Madrid Train Bombings, and the intelligence services of the United States, whilst monitoring his movements there, never mounted an operation to kill or capture him. They had actionable intelligence about his activities, associates, and daily schedule, but failed to take any action. He was under the nominal protection of Venezuelan law enforcement, but he was accessible. I consider this to be a serious Agency intelligence failure.
What's the connection ? Nasar has expressed the view that large terrorist operations were not as effective as those perpetrated individuals and small groups. His theories were adopted by Anwar Al-Awlaki, whose videos were reportedly viewed repeatedly by the Tsaenaevs. Had Nasar been taken into custody in 2004, his loss to the AQ leadership might have impacted terrorist attacks that occurred.
During his "sabbatical" in Venezuela, Nasar reportedly was the principal figure in the planning of the 2005 London Transport Bombings, and he is also understood by many to have been the architect of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) programme that killed so many Coalition soldiers in Iraq. Could this have been prevented by his capture, I wonder ?
To sum it up, Nasar's writings inspired Al-Awlaki, who adopted them in his Internet lectures. Those lectures, according to one brother, inspired the Boston Marathon Bombing. By the way, Nasar was released from custody, in the chaos surrounding the Syrian civil war, and he is out there once again.
* Also known as Abu Musab Al-Suri.