May 1, 2013

Picture of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Surfaces as Islamic Soldier?

Picture of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Surfaces as Islamic Soldier

If you weren’t paying close attention, you might first think this photo circulating today shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as a Chechen jihadist.

Sussing out the headlines and the backstory, you would then learn that one of the men in this photo is William Plotnikov (far right, I believe), a Canadian citizen who was killed last year during a standoff with police in Dagestan. US authorities are talking about a possible personal connection between Tsarnaev and Plotnikov based on the fact Tsarnaev left Russia around the same time Plotnikov was killed and the possibility of a distant social networking link. Talk about a caption bending over backwards to establish a connection between Tsarnaev and an actual live Islamic insurgent soldier. Here’s the text that ran with the undated photo at the Sun Times:

In this undated photo provided by the Dagestani branch of the Federal Security Service, William Plotnikov, right, poses for a photo. Security officials suspected ties between elder Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the Canadian, an ethnic Russian named William Plotnikov, who had joined the Islamic insurgency in the region. Russian agents placed the elder Boston bombing suspect under surveillance during a six-month visit to southern Russia last year, then scrambled to find him when he suddenly disappeared after police killed a Canadian jihadist, a security official told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Dagestani branch of the Federal Security Service via NewsTeam)

Just based on a quick look, by the way, a slew of traditional news sources are running the photo with the alleged ties, including USA Today, and others.

Even if Tsarnaev is not in the photo, though, just running this picture and suggesting some tie to guys in the woods with guns seems as good as planting the association there given the sensitive post-Maraton bombing climate.  And that’s not to mention the racial profiling involved … as those Muslim radicals all look alike, don’t they?

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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