Similarities tie Tamerlan Tsarnaev to dead Canadian jihadist

Matthew Coutts
Lindsey Graham seeks clarification on what FBI, DHS knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev

New reports about Tamerlan Tsarnaev have linked the deceased Chechen-born Boston bombing suspect to a Russian-born Canadian jihadist, by way of their homelands.

Tsarnaev, the elder of two brothers suspected of executing a fatal bombing during the Boston Marathon, who was later killed in a police shootout, is believed to be connected to William Plotnikov – a Canadian killed in a shootout near Chechnya last year.

Born in Russian republics and living disenfranchised lives in North America, the two deceased terror suspects share several uncanny ties – from their interest in boxing to their alleged ties to an insurgency group in southern Russia.

The Telegraph reports that the life of Tsarnaev shared some eerie parallels to Plotnikov – so similar in fact that it is believed the two were connected.

The U.K. newspaper cites a report from Russia's Novaya Gazeta, which says the two men communicated through a website called the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. Sources claim Plotnikov was interrogated by Russian operatives in 2010 and named Tsarnaev as one of his online contacts.

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The pair is also believed to have shared an interest in amateur boxing – with Tsarnaev participating in the Golden Gloves National Championships in 2009. Plotnikov also boxed while living and Canada and Russia.

The Telegraph writes:

It is unclear whether Tsarnaev and Plotnikov met through boxing circles or only communicated online, but their life paths suggest such a meeting was possible. Both were keen amateur boxers with roots in Russia who turned to Islam after finding it hard to adapt in their adoptive countries. Tsarnaev also visited his aunt in Toronto, where Plotnikov lived with his parents.

The connections were more compelling than a simple visit to Canada. The two have both been connected to a group of insurgents in the Russian republic of Dagestan.

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Tsarnaev was reportedly connected to Makhmud Mansur Nidal, a terrorist closely watched by Russian intelligence. Tsarnaev is believed to have met with Nidal during his visit to Dagestan last year. Nidal was killed by Russian forces a short time after Tsarnaev’s visit.

Plotnikov himself was connected to the Dagestan insurgency – living in their camp before he was killed in a shootout with security forces in July.

Two days after Plotnikov's death, Tsarnaev ended his visit to Russia and returned to the U.S.

Sources told the Telegraph that they believe Tsarnaev was trying to join the insurgency but, with his two contacts dead, he was forced to abandon his mission.

These new details come as the investigation into what led to the Boston bombing focuses more intently on Tsarnaev’s history. His mother has called the entire story “nonsense,” and perhaps that is what it is.

But it is also eerily similar to the story of William Plotnikov.