by Joe Giambrone
Brian Glyn Williams (right)
“I hope I didn’t contribute to it. That kid and his brother identified with the Chechen struggle.”
–Brian Glyn Williams, South Coast Today, April 19th 2013
Who is Brian Glyn Williams, and why was he telling his local newspaper such things relating to the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? This question may be highly relevant to our understanding of the bombing and of the longstanding Chechen insurgency itself. It was Williams who contacted South Coast Today reporter Steve Urbon first, and not vice-versa. This important article indicates a series of contacts between professor Williams and the boy who would later be accused of terrorism and mass murder at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Brian Glyn Williams bills himself as an associate professor of Islamic History at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. That’s where his byline tends to stop, abridged as it is. Recently however, Williams has come clean about his CIA past as a field operative in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and around Central Asia in the early 2000’s. He studied, of all things, the motivations of “suicide bombers,” establishing himself as an expert on the subject. Professor Williams also has a longtime association with the Jamestown Foundation, created by the head of the CIA in 1984 and steered by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Williams’ role as an “analyst” for Jamestown Foundation is usually also omitted from his byline, when his editorials appear in such mainstream journals as the Huffington Post, The Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere. Such failure to disclose his personal connections to US intelligence and to an intelligence-connected front organization mirrors his non-disclosure concerning his personal relationship with the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in those very same publications.
A website called Major History profiled Professor Williams in March of 2013. There they wrote, “[Brian Glyn Williams’] work has taken him to … Afghanistan to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. Williams was tasked with helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies understand the motivations and behaviors of suicide bombers…” As Williams’ formal education is in history, rather than psychological profiling, this may seem a bit out of the ordinary. “[Williams’] findings about suicide bombings in Afghanistan were informed by his understanding of tribal identities as much as fervor for the Jihadist movement. He came to these conclusions after being sent to Afghanistan by the CIA to perform firsthand research on these types of attacks. This type of fieldwork is unusual for most academics but especially for historians...”
Which version of Brian Glyn Williams are we reading?
In 2008 Williams wrote a Field Report on Suicide Bombers of Afghanistan, for the Middle East Policy journal. No indication was given to readers that his specific trip to Afghanistan was as a CIA operative. That disclosure does not seem to have been made until March of 2013. In the piece, Dr. Williams, a lowly associate professor of Islamic History, said, “…it was my research on Afghanistan’s suicide bombers that had drawn me from the safety of my world to the Pashtun tribal regions…” That may be so, but it is certainly not the entire story.
Williams’ elaborate 2011 defense of the CIA’s drone assassination campaign is an exercise in bolstering the CIA’s policies without fully disclosing his own linkages or self-interests. Writing in the West Point CTC Sentinel, “Brian Glyn Williams is Associate Professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He formerly taught at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.” That’s all that Williams discloses in Accuracy of the U.S. Drone Campaign: The Views of a Pakistani General.
FrontPage Magazine managed to locate Brian Glyn Williams after the Boston Marathon bombings and noted, “Professor Brian Glyn Williams teaches the only course in the country about the Chechen wars and said Dzokhar emailed him questions in the spring of 2011.” No mention of CIA or Jamestown, but was this at all unexpected given Williams’ persistent pattern of non-disclosures?
As Williams is billed as the sole academic in the US worth talking to about the Chechen wars, he should quite know all about the Islamic Jihad that has raged there since the 90’s and which FrontPage describes clearly just further down in the article. “When Osama Bin Laden set up a training camp in Chechnya in 1995, he wanted to ‘establish a worldwide Islamic state…’”
Who are the Chechen rebel “commanders?”
Canadian Broadcasting (CBC) reported in 2010,
“Last year, a charismatic rebel commander calling himself Said Buryatsky bragged on the rebel website Kavkaz Center he was training new suicide bombers…. Buryatsky… studied for several years in Saudi Arabia… A new leader, Dokka Umarov, emerged declaring the new goal was to separate all six Muslim majority provinces in the Russian Caucasus from the Russian Federation, and create a new Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. Admired for his Saudi religious education Buryatsky quickly became Umarov’s chief ideologist. He also became a valued military strategist.”
Doku Umarov is the current leader of the Chechen insurgency, and he is known as “Russia’s Bin Laden.” His website Kavkaz Center is hosted in Finland. On June 29th of 2010 the US State Department designated Doku Umarov a “global terrorist.” In June of 2012 Finnish prosecutors were reported to have linked the US State Department itself to funding for Doku Umarov’s website operations – the Kavkaz Center.
In April of 2013, Brian Glyn Williams suggested to his Huffington Post readers to visit the Kavkaz Center website to see that these Chechens allegedly don’t target Americans. Williams claimed, “While the small number of Chechen rebels were later radicalized in the 2000s and came to see their war for national independence as a defensive jihad, they had no reason to attack distant America.” Williams, of course, knows that an Al Qaeda training camp was established in Chechnya in 1995. He suggests, “For a view into their world see the Chechen rebels’ website Kavkaz Center.” The owner of that website in Finland, Mikael Storsjo received a “four-month suspended sentence” in 2012 for “assisting Chechen terrorists to enter Finland illegally.”
Brian Glyn Williams knows full well that Doku Umarov is a terrorist and that the bombings gleefully boasted about on his Jihad website Kavkaz Center are in fact acts of terrorism. As Umarov is officially designated a “global terrorist” by the US government itself, should Mr. Williams be supporting him, his group and his website rhetorically?
More to the point: Did Williams recommend this website and its activities to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
The distinction that Williams stresses repeatedly is that “they had no reason to attack distant America.” The clear implication here is that terrorist attacks against Russians are of no concern and should not be of concern to readers.