BuzzFeed has linked to the YouTube page of Tamerlan Tasarnaev – the older brother in the pair suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon earlier this week. A video he linked to on his page (assuming it is his page, this needs to be confirmed) is titled, “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags From Khorasan.”
The video deals with a key part of jihadist mythology: That one of the most significant battles fought against the “infidels” will take place in the Khorasan, a geographic area that includes parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
As my colleague Bill Roggio has explained, “The Khorasan is considered by jihadis to be the place where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant - Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Mentions of the Khorasan have begun to increase in al Qaeda's propaganda.”
This, of course, does not make the brothers al Qaeda operatives. It does increase the likelihood that Tamerlan Tasarnaev, if this is indeed his YouTube page, was at least sympathetic to the same underlying ideology.
Authorities still have to carefully piece together the details of how the brothers became terrorists, however, including if they have any ties abroad. And this investigation will produce a more complete dossier on their beliefs and motivations.
But Tamerlan Tasarnaev’s affinity for this video should at least inject the concept of the fight for the Khorasan into the public discourse.
Al Qaeda and its allies see the Khorasan as central to their long-term designs. For example, al Qaeda regularly puts out an online magazine titled “Vanguards of Khorasan.” Other jihadists, including those from the Caucasus and from groups linked to al Qaeda, have picked up this theme.
Again, it is too early to say this is what motivated the suspects in Boston. But we should remember that the jihadists continue to fight for the Khorasan.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.