Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's In A Name, "Katie Russell"?

Now that we're in the week between the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing (yesterday), and the running of the 2014 Boston Marathon next Tuesday, I'm reminded how frustrated I was that the news media (national and local, tabloid and broadcast) all seemed to accept uncritically the version of events being peddled at the time by the surviving American widow of the ethnic Chechen bomber who'd immigrated to America, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

I found it especially galling that everyone in the media referred to her as "Katie Russell." As THIS New York Post article makes clear, "Russell changed her name. Now she was Karima Tsarnaeva... Where Russell was on April 15, 2013 — the day of the Boston Marathon bombings — is still unknown... Following her husband’s death, Russell fled to her parents’ home back in North Kingston, and the FBI descended on the tiny apartment in Cambridge. There they found bomb-making residue in the kitchen sink, in the bathtub, and on the kitchen table. On Russell’s laptop, they found the first issue of the al Qaeda online magazine Inspire, which included an article titled 'How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.'... Russell said nothing... When the FBI showed up at her parents’ home on April 21, 2013, Russell refused to speak with them... She has made it clear to her entire family that she is a Muslim and will remain a Muslim. That’s non-negotiable." As the  3 minute local news segment about her (below), which aired last night in her local Rhode Island market, makes clear, nothing has really changed over the last year.

In all of this, Karima Tsarnaeva reminds me of Melinda Marling Maclean, the American wife of the notorious British spy Donald Maclean, a committed communist (and bisexual and alcoholic and rabid anti-American) who spied for the Soviet Union while living in, among other places, Washington, D.C., and then fled across the Iron Curtain (just ahead of prosecution) in 1951, living the rest of his life there. When he first fled, Melinda denied knowing anything about his spying, denied being a communist herself, and took her children to live with her mother in Geneva, Switzerland.  Then, a year later, she  suddenly disappeared over the Iron Curtain herself to join Donald in Moscow.  She lived there unhappily for years, and ultimately returned to America for good in 1979, and lived in seclusion at her mother's apartment in New York City, keeping a low profile and refusing ever to speak publicly about Donald Maclean ever again until her death in 2010. She quietly encouraged a public perception of her as a clueless dupe, and a devoted (and abused) wife. (Sound familiar?) It was subsequently revealed that she was a communist sympathizer all along, had known about Donald Maclean's spying from the time they first met, and had, in fact, aided him from time-to-time, including abetting his escape to Moscow.

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