Caucasus jihadist group denies involvement in Boston attacks

On Sunday, the Dagestan affiliate of the Caucasus Emirate, a separatist group in Russia that has been tied to al Qaeda by the United Nations, issued a statement denying responsibility for the attacks in Boston. Here's a translation by the jihadist media clearinghouse blog Jihadology:

[T]here are speculative assumptions that [Tamerlan Tsarnaev] may have been associated with the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate, in particular with the Mujahideen of Dagestan.

The Command of the Province of Dagestan indicates in this regard that the Caucasian Mujahideen are not fighting against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia, which is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for heinous crimes against Muslims.

The statement also stressed that the leader of the Caucasus Emirate, Doku Umarov, has discouraged targeting civilians and blamed speculation about the Tsarnaevs' connection to Chechen separatists on Russian propaganda.

The Caucasus Emirate has been under particular scrutiny for the attacks, given the Tsarnaevs' Chechen heritage and older brother Tamerlan's trip to Chechnya and Dagestan last year, which some reports have tied to his radicalization.

The statement does not definitively indicate that the Tsarnaevs are not connected to the Caucasus Emirate, however. "The Caucasus Emirate is a very decentralized structure organizationally so I wouldn't necessarily say they speak on behalf of other wilayah or jama'at or even the emir Dokku Umarov," writes Aaron Zelin, the Richard Borow fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and founder of Jihadology, whom FP reached by email this morning. "The Caucasus Emirate is the main jihadi umbrella, but there are a bunch of wilayah and jama'at that work under it. I don't think we know enough information to determine if they could have worked with others."

The Dagestan affiliate of the Caucasus Emirate is not the first jihadist group to deny involvement in the attacks. The Pakistani Taliban issued a statement denying responsibility almost immediately after the bombings last week, with a spokesman for the organization saying, "Certainly, America is our target and we will attack the U.S. and its allies whenever the [Pakistani Taliban] finds the opportunity, but we are not involved in this attack."



Czech ambassador clarifies that Czech Republic is not Chechnya

You've probably noticed that the Russian republic of Chechnya has dominated the news today, as we learn more about the suspects implicated in the Boston Marathon bombing. For some, though, this has led to more confusion than clarity. On Friday, the Czech Republic began trending on Twitter as people mixed up the two locations -- located 1,600 miles apart.

In addition to prompting a host of angry responses, the mix-up has now even elicited a response from the Czech ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovic, who seemed rather offended and posted the following statement on the embassy's website:

As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities - the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.

As the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that.

Unfortunately, this isn't the only diplomatic kerfuffle to arise from the search for suspects. On Thursday, the Yemeni embassy sent out a press release demanding that MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews apologize for inquiring about whether federal investigators could determine from photo and video footage whether the suspects were of Yemeni origin:

The Embassy of Yemen was concerned and appalled this evening when MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews indirectly branded the people of Yemen as terrorists. This was an unfair comment, which the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Washington, D.C. strongly condemns. 

The U.S. media and Twittersphere haven't exactly done a spectacular job getting the facts straight this week. We can only hope that as the story plays out, it doesn't spark any additional international standoffs.