Main » 2013 » June » 14 » The Tsarnaevs and the CIA–Part 2: Who is Brian Glyn Williams?
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The Tsarnaevs and the CIA–Part 2: Who is Brian Glyn Williams?

May 10, 2013 ( Recap )

The Tsarnaev family connections to the world of spooks and suits are becoming increasingly difficult to either ignore or dismiss as mere "coincidences.”  When I wrote the first article on The Tsarnaevs and the CIA, detailing the connections between the Tsarnaev family (namely "Uncle Ruslan” Tsarni and Tamerlan Tsarnaev) to the intelligence world (Graham Fuller, Fethulla Gulen), I did not expect for it to become a multi-part series.  Although, the way things are headed, there may indeed be a need for continuous entries within this journal.

A bit of old information has been made new again thanks to the keen eye of writer Mark Ames at NSFWCORP with a piece titled "I Hope I Didn’t Contribute To it,” which includes a detail that, as he correctly pointed out, has been completely overlooked.


Two years ago, while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still a senior in high school, Dzhokhar was tasked with a project assignment by his English teacher, Steve Matteo.  The project consisted of each student in the class researching their past, their history and ethnicity, and to write about their findings.  Dzhokhar’s teacher, Steve Matteo, decided to help him along in his research by introducing him to his friend, Brian Glyn Williams, considered to be a "top expert” on Chechnya.

Williams, by all accounts, is indeed an expert on the subject, having majored in Russian Studies while an undergraduate, receiving dual Masters Degrees in Russian and East European History and Central Eurasian Studies, and a Doctorate Degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic Central Asian History.

Furthermore, the breadth of knowledge he would have been able to bestow upon the younger of the two Tsarnaev brothers and accused Boston Bomber was not limited to simply that of scholarly research.  Brian Glyn Williams is not just an academic with a pension for Russian studies and the Chechen struggle—he’s also a spook.


Brian Glyn Williams’ history with The Central Intelligence Agency is not as well publicized as Spymaster Graham’s, indicating that perhaps he was not as involved with the CIA as Graham Fuller, who himself was a high level operative.

On the other hand, the flip side of that coin is also equally possible.

His book’s publisher confirms that Williams did indeed work for the CIA in at least some capacity:

"Having traveled extensively in the Pashtun tribal areas while working for the U.S. military and the CIA, Williams explores in detail of the new technology of airborne assassinations” [emphasis added].

His bio on the Huffington Post is a little more subtle:

"Brian Glyn Williams is a Professor of Islamic Studies at Univ of Mass. Dartmouth formerly of Univ. of London. He has spent four summers in Afghanistan researching terrorism and is the author of the forthcoming book Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda based on his field work in Pakistan” [emphasis added].

The fact that Williams may have done a bit of contract work for the CIA would be easy enough to ignore if not for the broader context of the Tsarnaev family connections.  In fact, it’s not at all surprising that this seemingly "minor detail” was overlooked completely by almost everyone in the days after the manhunt and subsequent arrest.  In and of itself it’s not much to go on.

However, given the well established links between the CIA and others in the Tsarnaev family, this Williams connection, if unrelated, would make for quite a remarkable coincidence.  This is perhaps best articulated in a comment posted by a self-described former student on a blog written by Brian Glyn Williams published by the Huffington Post:

"I had professor williams at Umass Dartmouth. He is the most bada$$ professor on the planet; a combination of James Bond and Indiana Jones, He lived with a freakin Afghan Warlord, general Dostum, who helped us fight the war on terrorism and helped hunt the Taliban. Buy his new book, Afghanistan declassified, it is great.

Being from the Boston area myself and a UMASSD alumni, Professor williams was the first person I thought of after I found out Dzhokar was a registered student…. The Irony was crazy…. that they crossed paths and communicated, is like something out of a movie,…… I’m still in shock. I just talked with Williams a few weeks ago. I’m surprised Dzhokar didn’t target Professor Williams……… he must have not known of his past CIA career……” [emphasis added].


Within hours of the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 19th, Williams was providing comments to various media outlets and describing the nature of his relationship with Dzhokhar, including some insight into the mind of the alleged Boston Bomber.

"He was sort of rediscovering his identity,” he said. "I seem to recall discussing my syllabus and the history of the wars.” - Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Family, Acquaintances Describe Boston Bombing Suspects (Huffington Post)

It appears Williams was the one who initiated the contact with the media and decided, through whatever motivation, to get this story out.

Steve Urbon, columnist for The Standard-Times and, writes:

"On Friday morning, Williams awoke to hear that this young man was the suspect being sought in the Boston Marathon bombing Monday.

Williams shot me an email. I phoned him and at one point I heard a rare twinge of worry in his voice. ‘I hope I didn’t contribute to it. That kid and his brother identified with the Chechen struggle,’ he said.”

Urbon goes on to say:

"But Williams recalled the student clearly, though the two never met and communicated by email, Williams sending him links to academic papers he’s published and books he recommended” [emphasis added].

As the days passed, Williams’ comments in the media became a bit more defensive, as he distanced himself from Dzhokhar, downplaying their "brief relationship.”

From"I’ve had a little criticism for providing him with information on Chechnya,” Williams says. "But that’s like criticizing someone for giving information to an Irish person about Ireland for fear that they might join the IRA. It doesn’t make any sense.”Indeed, criticism for providing information on Chechnya to a young student working on a "special project” wou make any sense at all. What would make sense, however, would be criticism for not disclosing information as to the extent of his work with the league of extraordinary spies and assassins in the CIA—and for that matter, criticism of the mainstream press and the various writers and reporters who have been in touch with Williams in the last 3 weeks and never bothered to ask the question.

Williams says he never met Dzhokhar and only communicated with him briefly via email.  As the HuffPo subscriber and former student mentioned above expressed, that idea is "surprising,” "shocking”—frankly, just plain hard to believe.

Brian Glyn Williams boasts that he is the only person in America, perhaps even the world, who teaches a course on the "obscure land” of Chechnya.  He’s devoted the last nine years of his life to relaying his knowledge on the subject to students at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a young man of Chechen descent, keen on "rediscovering his identity,” as Williams says, transferred to UMASS-Dartmouth in the Fall of 2011, within months of the two exchanging emails.

But they never met? Dzhokhar made no further attempt to contact Williams even after establishing a rapport via email and now a student at the same University with the "only man in the world” who teaches a class on Chechnya?

Once again, just plain hard to believe.  That being said, what reason do we have to suspect Williams would intentionally misrepresent their relationship—other than at some point in his life having worked for an agency many associate with professional liars and murderers?

That may not be much, I would concede—but then there’s that darn Jamestown Foundation again.


Brian Glyn Williams not only performed work for the CIA, he is also an analyst for The Jamestown Foundation, an organization that has been described in the past as a CIA-front.  If not a direct cover for the covert actions of the CIA, the Jamestown Foundation is certainly a place where spooks and suits like to hang out—give lectures, run workshops, influence an opinion here or there, destabilize a region of the world—the usual.

Williams’ association with the Jamestown Foundation is relevant for two principle reasons: First, it provides further insight as to the level of involvement Williams has had with the agency and, as a whole, the world of intelligence, think tanks and influence. Second, this isn’t the first time the Jamestown Foundation has come up with respect to the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Tsarnaevs.

Although the source is manifestly suspect, Russian state newspaper Izvestia has reported that the Counterintelligence Department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs released information affirming Tamerlan Tsarnaev attended a workshop while visiting Dagestan in 2012 sponsored by the Caucuses Fund and the Jamestown Foundation.

A workshop of this sort, the Izvestia report proposes, would have been used as a tool by US intelligence (through their proxy in the Jamestown Foundation) to recruit residents of the Northern Caucuses (including Dagestan, home of the Tsarnaev family) to work in their interests.  The implication, of course, being that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, having attended this workshop and fitting the recruitment profile, would have then been enlisted as an asset by the CIA.


The connection between Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the self-professed "world’s expert” in Chechen studies, agent of the CIA, and part-time analyst for the Jamestown Foundation is an unexpected one.  Up to this point there has been very little to suggest Dzhokhar was as involved in the planning or execution of the bombing as his older brother Tamerlan (and to be fair, there has been no concrete evidence yet made available to the public that incriminates either one as the definitive culprit).

For curious journalists wanting additional information about Dzhokhar’s potentially more than merely "brief relationship” with Williams or his academic history in general at UMASS-Dartmouth through his education records: you’re out of luck, at least for the time being. His records have been sealed and both the University and The US Department of Education have denied requests to release them.

Within this context, the question of why Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was allowed to remain enrolled at UMASS-Dartmouth despite an "unusually” high unpaid balance of $20,000 becomes a bit more intriguing.

That being said, and as I’ve previously noted, the association between Dzhokhar and Brian Glyn Williams, as curious as it may be, would be easy enough to shake off as its own stand-alone piece of information.

Perhaps the same could even be said for any of other links in the Tsarnaev-CIA chain—in and of themselves.
Ruslan Tsarni (Tsarnaev), "Uncle Ruslan,” marrying the daughter of the former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence, Graham (RAND Corporation-Iran-Contra-Fethulla Gulen-Let’s use Islam to destabilize what remains of Russian power) Fuller.
Ruslan Tsarni contracted for work by, CIA front group, USAID between 1994 and 1996 (the same time of his marriage to Spymaster Graham’s daughter) and again in 2008.
Ruslan Tsarni founding the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, a group who "provided material support” to the Chechen rebels, out of Graham Fuller’s home.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev having reportedly attended a Jamestown Foundation-CIA sponsored workshop and potentially recruited as an asset.
Tamerlan’s widow, Katherine Russell, being the granddaughter of Richard Warren Russell, a graduate of Yale, likely member of the ultra-exclusive secret society Skull and Bones, and former U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence.

In and of themselves, these individual links may not mean much at all, but when placed in their proper context and summed up, the math cannot be denied—even if you don’t like the answers.

The Tsarnaevs are a "connected” family.  That much has become abundantly clear.  Exactly how they are connected, where their loyalties lie, to what extent, if any, were they actually involved in the planning or execution of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and for what ends—these are the larger questions whose answers may lead us to the truth behind the Tsarnaevs and the CIA.

By Guillermo Jimenez
Traces of Reality

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