This is symptomatic of the process of becoming “radicalized,” to borrow the popular, politically correct term that sanitizes Islam of its scriptures’ supremacist dictates. Tamerlan’s wife, an American Christian named Katherine Russell, abruptly converted to Islam, donning the veil and similarly isolating herself from American acquaintances in favor of spending time with other Muslim women. Tamerlan took to studying Sheikh Feiz Mohammed, an Australian, a former boxer like himself, and a notorious sharia hardliner who spews bile against non-Muslims and endorses jihadist violence. Tamerlan even began maintaining YouTube playlists glorifying jihad, including a list he called “Terrorists” and one featuring a song entitled “I Will Dedicate My Life to Jihad.”
By 2011, Tamerlan’s radicalism had come to the attention of Russian intelligence. Based on intercepted conversations between the young man and his mother, the spy service concluded he was poised to travel to Dagestan, a republic that has long endured a brutal Islamic insurgency. The Russians brought him to the attention of both the FBI and the CIA. But while the latter entered his name in an anti-terror database (the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment), the former, after interviewing Tamerlan, reasoned that being a follower of radical Islam did not necessarily make one a terrorist threat. In the face of a lethal, ideologically driven threat, our government’s policy is to turn a blind eye to ideology. Only criminal activity, it insists, may properly be investigated — even if that means the investigation happens only after the activity has killed innocent people.