As is now traditional in these stories, we’re now being told that the Brothers Tsarnaev are merely the latest card-carrying members of Local 473 of the Amalgamated Union of Lone Wolves. No broader pattern can be discerned, or should be discerned. All jihad is local. Nobody could have seen this coming:
If by “normal lives”, you mean reported to the US Government by a major foreign power as possible terrorists, interviewed by the FBI, had your citizenship application put on hold, and cheerily posting a series of videos to YouTube as part of your “Terrorists” playlist. No doubt millions of people in America lead lives that “normal”.
The beatification of the pre-Marathon Tsarnaevs obscures a very disquieting pattern. As Michael Mukasey writes:
Tamerlan Tsarnaev is the fifth person since 9/11 who has participated in terror attacks after questioning by the FBI. He was preceded by [Fort Hood "workplace violence" facilitator] Nidal Hasan; drone casualty Anwar al Awlaki; Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (born Carlos Leon Bledsoe), who murdered an Army recruit in Little Rock in June 2009; and David Coleman Headley, who provided intelligence to the perpetrators of the Mumbai massacre in 2008. That doesn’t count [Detroit's incoming Pantybomber] Abdulmutallab, who was the subject of warnings to the CIA that he was a potential terrorist.
That’s quite a high failure rate, with quite a cumulative death count.
The FBI questioning was enough to stall young Tamerlan’s citizenship application:
The officials pointed to the decision to hold up that application as evidence that his encounter with the F.B.I. did not fall through the cracks in the vast criminal and national security databases that the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. review as a standard requirement for citizenship…
The record of the F.B.I. interview was enough to cause Homeland Security to hold up Mr. Tsarnaev’s application. He presented those papers several weeks after he returned from a six-month trip overseas, primarily to Russia.
If you’ve been out of the country for 183 days (combined) in any one calendar year, that’s grounds for denying citizenship alone. But apparently nobody noticed that. So before the bureaucracy congratulates itself any further on not letting Tamerlan “fall through the cracks”, it’s worth considering what that means. Having interviewed him, did they just stick the paperwork in the database or did they put even the most basic kind of follow-up Internet search on him? The sort whereby the creation of his “Terrorist” YouTube playlist would have come to the attention of the Feds? And, if it did, was it then discounted on the grounds that all kinds of harmless types dig this terrorist stuff and it doesn’t mean they’re gonna go full Jihad Boy on you? Did they simply conclude, as they did with Major Hasan’s extensive e-mail correspondence with Ayman Awlaki, that it’s merely “consistent with his research interests”?
It is consistent with his research interests. That’s the problem. The fact that the world’s most lavishly funded intelligence bureaucracy can’t identify it as such is an even bigger problem.