Did the CIA commandeer the Boston bombing investigation?

It’s been more than 300 years ago since demonic possession figured as heavily in a criminal probe as it has in the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing.

Not since the Salem Witch Trials has the search for accomplices to a major crime centered so heavily on finding a suspect who believed he could talk to demons.

"He took (and ate?) his brains"

Since the remaining of the two brothers accused of planting the bombs was found cowering under a tarpaulin in a boat in a backyard in Watertown Massachusetts two weeks ago, coverage of the bombing by the most respected organs of the American mainstream media has been full of breathless updatesdelivered with a straight faceabout the progress of an FBI manhunt for a red-haired Muslim who talked to demons, dabbled in exorcism, and walked around carrying other people’s brains.

The drumbeat was started by Ruslan Tsarni, who became famous as “Uncle Ruslan” for his forthright condemnation of the attack in a now-famous news conference on his front lawn just four days after the Boston Marathon Bombing.

“There is someone who brainwashed him, some new convert to Islam,’’ Tsarni said.  I would like to stress (the acquaintance was) of Armenian descent.’’

Since then he has been using the media to press investigators to find Misha, a man who appeared to combine the worst features of villains from two different horror movies.

The Exorcist” meets “The Walking Dead.”

"This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely," Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, told CNN from his home in Maryland, describing the friend as an Armenian convert to Islam.

“The bombers' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, depicts Misha as a Rasputin-like figure who "took [Tamerlan’s] brain" and said that his presence soon became a source of tension within the family,” reported USA Today.

Also citing the boys' uncle, London’s Daily Mail reported that “Misha used to  give one-on-one sermons to Tamerlan over the kitchen table,  during which he claimed he could talk to demons.”

Tsarni, Tsarnaev's uncle, told CNN he was so concerned about someone brainwashing his nephew that he called a family friend in the Cambridge area to investigate.

"I said, 'Listen, do you know what is going on with that family? With my brother's family?' Then he says … there is a person, some new convert into Islam of Armenian descent," Tsarni told CNN's Shannon Travis.

Tsarni said, "Armenians, I have no intention to say anything about Armenians.”

Then he proceeded to do just that. “It's a neighboring region with North Caucasus," the same area where the Tsarnaev family also hails from.”

A red-haried Armenian exorcist…with a big mouth…in Cambridge

Tsarni described Misha as being "chubby, a big guy, big mouth presenting himself with some kind of abilities as exorcist . . . having some part-time job in one of the stores, not married. All of the qualifications of a loser, just another big mouth.”

According to Uncle Ruslan, Misha, over a considerable period of time, had radicalized Tamerlan.

“But there are signs that Tamerlan had become radicalized — apparently from a friend in the United States named “Mischa” — described as a Russian of Armenian descent who was a relatively recent convert to Islam and who lived in Cambridge, according by Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni,” NBC reported.

Tsarni told NBC News that Mischa presented himself as an “exorcist” who specialized in “removing demons from people’s bodies.”

Not a day went by without references in the press to the search for Misha. There were literally hundred of news reports about him. Very soon, it began to appear there was nothing new to be said.

But that didn’t stop anyone. Reported New York magazine:

“According to reports, family members point the finger at a man identified only as Misha, a friend whom Tamerlan knew through a local mosque. Misha is described as a bald, red-bearded, 30-year-old Armenian convert to Islam who "claimed to be an exorcist who is fighting with demons." 

OMG…you mean he's even scarier than…Alex Jones?

There was also a half-hearted attempt to draw Alex Jones into the controversy. Reported the Atlantic Magazine online:

“The major development in the sleuthing of the Tsarnaev brothers, specifically sinister Tamerlan, involves a red-bearded exorcist named Misha.”

“Tamerlan listened to Alex Jones's popular and usually looney radio show Infowars. BuzzFeed's Rosie Grey reached out to Jones to see how he felt about having a suspected terrorist as a listener.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone asking Alex Jones, “How does that make you feel.”  But the effort to smear him was no doubt duly noted. But the problem with doing any serious damage to Alex Jones was simple:  When you’re lookng for an Armenian exorcist who talks with demons, slandering a poor radio host in the bargain loses its lustre.

The fever over finding Misha finally broke when somebodsy actually found him. Christian Caryl of the New York Times Review of Books scored the first media interview with Misha. In her interview with the alleged Boston Bomber’s ‘Svengali,’ he told her he hadn’t seen or spoken to anyone in the Tsarnaev family for more than three years.

Ooops! Uncle Ruslan’s response spoke volumes about him. Was he abashed? Far from it. He changed his story without batting an eye, and turned his attention to a secondary target, a woman who, if you're trying to create a distraction, is right out of Central Casting.

“Check out Bomb Mom”

Ruslan dismissed Zubeidat, who was arrested last year for stealing $1,600 of lingerie from a department store, as a ‘bad character’.

 “Ruslan Tsarni, told the AP from his home in Maryland that he believed his former sister-in-law had a "big-time influence" on her older son's growing embrace of his Muslim faith and decision to quit boxing and school.”

“ Ruslan Tsarni claimed that Zubeidat allowed a firebrand cleric into their house to give one-on-one sermons to Tamerlan over the kitchen table during which he claimed he could talk to demons and perform exorcisms.”

He told London Daily MailOnline : ‘The change of the older boy, one of the biggest causes is her. ‘First she started playing into this religious crap, they say is a devotion to Islam.”

 "I work. Why do you want to know?"

Tsarni was cagey with reporters about what he did for a living. 

“Tsarni was careful not to give out too much information, reported the Washington Post. “When asked about his profession, he responded, “I work, I work.’”

And with good reason, because for the past twenty years he has almost certainly been a CIA asset operating in a number of former Soviet Republics.

Tsarni’s bio, in an official SEC filing, stated he worked for the US Agency for International Development, USAID, during the early 1990’s. Bloomberg Business Review revealed last week that since 2008, he’s again been working for USAID.

Famously, USAID workers build schools, as well as provide cover for CIA assets overseas. Recently they were thrown out of Russia. Just last week, they were asked to leave Bolivia.

In between his stints with the obviously-conflicted US Agency, Ruslan Tsarni worked  for several Halliburton-controlled oil companies, as well as a Kazakh man charged with a major banking scandal in Kazakhstan whose repercussions earlier this year stretched all the way to London.

Maybe Ruslan Tsarni’s commute car doesn't bear a “smoking gun” parking sticker from CIA headquarters in Langley. But neither his bio nor his demeanor since the bombings qualify him for a  “Humanitarian of the Year” award, either.

Of demons, exorcists, and shoddy shoddy journalism

The search for foreign involvement in the Boston Marathon Bombings has been a sad joke.

The fact that no one has stood up and called "shenanigans" on the mainstream purveyors of what is supposed to be responsible journalism in this country is a national disgrace.

When you look at how this happened, its hard not to suspect that a “higher power” than the FBI was steering the investigation.

This raises the strong possibility that the FBI’s investigation into the bombing has been manipulated, or steered, by the CIA.

In the post-mortems to come on the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, the crucial question will be: Who was behind this effort, and why?

A big question is what Uncle Ruslan stood to gain by making accusations about Misha.

If you’re on a CIA’s crisis management team, and your job is to play for time and try to run the clock out on the American people’s attention span, the result might look something very much like the last two weeks in America.

And if your goal was to forestall pointed questions about Ruslan Tsarni and top CIA official Graham Fuller’s roles in the Tsarnaevs family’s frequent trips to Dagestan, you couldn’t have played it better.


Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.

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