Paris and Boston: That Other, Missing, Comparison

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Video frame grab of attack on Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Video frame grab of attack on Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Yesterday, in response to the horrific events in Paris, a columnist for the Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen, wrote a column drawing a parallel between that monstrous attack and the different but no less abominable violence unleashed in his own city on April 15, 2013.

By now, many of us have seen the chilling video in which a gunman executes a wounded French police officer lying on the sidewalk, his arms raised in helpless surrender.

The Tsarnaev brothers stand accused of doing essentially the same, sneaking up and shooting a helpless MIT police officer named Sean Collier as he sat in his idling cruiser on the Cambridge campus as the manhunt for the Tsarnaevs gathered pace. The killers wanted Collier’s gun but were too stupid to figure out how to unbuckle his holster.

He’s right about the parallel, but not necessarily about the lessons to be drawn. While there’s little doubt that the French suspects committed the multiple murders in Paris, the same cannot be said at this time about the Tsarnaevs and the killing of Sean Collier. There are real questions about both the identity of the MIT executioners and the purpose of their act. Among the questions: why would the Tsarnaevs have been on that empty campus and have known that a police car was parked between buildings off the street? We’ve examined those issues at great length here.


The Globe columnist is perhaps also wrong in his conclusions. Referring to the publication, Charlie Hebdo, whose ranks were decimated in the Paris attack, he writes:

Nous sommes tous Charlie [We are all Charlie]. That is a major, major problem for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And there is no change of venue for that.

The really striking similarity, beyond the theme of radical Islam, is this: in both cases, the security state knew the perpetrators well. In Boston, the FBI was in direct contact with and monitoring alleged senior perpetrator Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Chérif Kouachi

Chérif Kouachi

In France, the authorities knew at least two of the alleged perpetrators.

From the New York Times:

The massacre, which singled out cartoonists and other staff members at a newspaper that frequently mocked Islam, Christianity and all forms of religious and secular authority, left France stunned. It also raised questions about how Chérif Kouachi, so well known to the police for so many years, and his brother had managed to conceal their intentions.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev apparently underwent a conversion to radicalism. Chérif Kouachi was consistently an open advocate of radical violence and jihad, and served jail time for recruiting young French Muslims to fight in Iraq.


In both cases, the understandable reaction is fury and a desire for retribution and closure. The result in both cases will almost certainly be a decision to grant further authority to the security state in both countries to do “whatever is necessary” to protect us.

But as we know, the security state, in both the United States and France, already has enormous power. It monitors the general population, in myriad ways, both electronic and otherwise.

As noted, it often already knows those very few who do commit these acts. And sometimes even recruits them as informants, with occasionally disastrous results.

Something to think about.

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32 responses to “Paris and Boston: That Other, Missing, Comparison”

  1. Title

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  2. Beantoes says:

    Whatever became of the woman French authorities were pursuing relating to this case? Was she involved? If so, was she captured? Wasn’t there some huge manhunt for her? I never heard another word about it in the press.

  3. fromaway46 says:

    It is extremely difficult for me to continue to read and follow any reporter and website which speaks of the fake shooting of the policeman on the sidewalk as “chilling” and states there is “little doubt that the French suspects committed the multiple murders”. Whether you are just incompetent or worse, I simply have no respect for you.

  4. J says:

    I am a big admirer of your work Mr Baker but respectfully disagree with your comment that “While there’s little doubt that the French suspects committed the multiple murders in Paris”.

    I’m not saying the Pairs attacks were a false flag but neither am I discounting it, as I believe there is certainly doubt, more information needs to be looked in to and you’re certainly a good person to do it.

    The ID conveniently left behind by the supposed shooters who took the trouble of concealing their faces with ski masks really does stretch credulity, it’s rather reminiscent of the passport found in perfect condition amongst the burning rubble of the twin towers.

    That aside, there are supposed links between the supposed Paris shooters and the underwear bomber ( see: ). I’m sure you’re aware of the testimony about the actions of the underwear bomber and, perhaps more importantly, his accomplice, which were witnessed by lawyer Kurt Hasdell and his wife who were on the same plane as him. ( see: ). And of course there is the Telegraph article which directly accused the underwear bomber of working for the CIA. ( see: ) . All interesting given the allegation that the French shooters had links to him.

    Also, the alleged Paris shooters’ alleged getaway driver, Hamyd Mourad, apparently has an iron clad alibi and handed himself in to police fearing that he was about to be murdered by the security forces as a terrorist, or perhaps as someone, like Ibragim Todashev, who knew too much.

    Paul Craig Roberts details another worrying development: “Another puzzle in the official story that remains unreported by the presstitute media is the alleged suicide of a high ranking member of the French Judicial Police who had an important role in the Charlie Hebdo investigation. For unknown reasons, Helric Fredou, a police official involved in the most important investigation
    of a lifetime, decided to kill himself in his police office on January 7 or January 8 (both dates are reported in the foreign media) in the middle of the night while writing his report on his investigation. A google search as of 6pm EST January 13 turns up no mainstream US media report of this event. The alternative media reports it, as do some UK newspapers, but without suspicion or mention whether his report has disappeared. The official story is that Fredou was suffering from “depression” and “burnout,” but no evidence is provided. Depression and burnout are the standard explanations of mysterious deaths that have unsettling implications. (see: )

    I think there is enough here for someone with your skills to get their teeth into and certainly no shame if, after looking at the facts, you decided there was more to the story, in fact quite the opposite. So many of these “terror” events could well be the modern equivalent of Operation Gladio (see: ), that’s my fear.

    Regards, J

  5. Tom says:

    WhoWhatWhy censored my solidly factual and pertinent comment because it pointed out a factual misrepresentation which reflected poorly on this website. Censoring such a comment puts WhoWhatWhy in the category of psyops and will be removed from my alternative news favorites forthwith.

  6. merylnass says:

    Please point out that US politicians have used the Paris attacks to justify future NSA surveillance. Yet the alleged perpetrators were well known to law enforcement, and NSA surveilles communications in France as well as the US and elsewhere. But neither NSA nor French law enforcement failed to prevent the attacks.
    So what we need is NOT more of the same, but something entirely different.

  7. Expat says:

    The suspect in the Canadian Parliament/Soldier’s Monument shooting last year was also known to the authorities; they had taken his passport. Is a pattern emerging?

  8. jcbrook says:

    Al-Awlaki has been brought into the story! (ABC evening news) Same as the Boston bombings!

    Russ, you gotta dig into this! The parallels are too amazing!

  9. omniadeo says:

    “Little doubt that the French suspects committed the murders in Paris.”

    Dear Russ,

    I don’t claim to know otherwise, but, as an admirer, I too am troubled by what appears to be a statement with insufficient evidence.

    Could you outline why you think a lot of doubt is not still warranted given the state of known–and not just announced–facts)?

    Thank you.

  10. A J MacDonald Jr says:

    Interesting article.

  11. TJTruth2 says:

    “Little doubt that the French suspects committed the murders in Paris.” Really? Have any eyewitnesses ID’d the two masked professional gunmen who remain at large? If so, how was this done? Mask x-rays? Were their “perfect” French accents the giveaway?

    • daniel wilson says:


    • TJTruth2 says:

      I’ve now discovered that although the masked professional gunmen were smart enough to be able to slaughter 12 people in the middle of the day in the middle of a busy city and evade capture, they were apparently dimwitted enough to leave their photo ID cards in their getaway car. Makes perfect sense that they would be so blase about revealing their identities in such a fashion, what with the masks and all. Carry on. Nothing to see here.

    • daniel wilson says:

      Classic stuff to be sure! I honestly didn’t even bother to look into this subject because I immediately assumed and cockily figured I knew exactly what it was. It’s hilarious to watch “sipping on wine after the crime Harper” after his recent Ottawa thing , explain how this one only possibly violent incident in some city somehow meant that the world has to get updated on the new plan. This stuff is too funny. Keep it up and hope to see ya ’round.

    • Seattle_Bill says:

      Seriously, Russ, you damage your credibility severely when you write stuff like, “While there’s little doubt that the French suspects committed the multiple murders in Paris.” You constantly urge your readers to question the official story and ask questions. What a hypocrite.

  12. Conspiracy Twit says:

    This article is a good complement to Juan Cole’s:

    Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris

  13. philip.dennany says:

    We may never know the truth of either tragedy, just as we never got a truthful official story of what happened in most false flag attack (Oklahoma City bombing, Waco, 9-11, Criminal wars on countries throughout the world, the Israeli attacks on the USS Liberty, and many many other travesties)

  14. Guest says:

    The ID left behind in the car is almost comical, seems intentional

    • daniel wilson says:

      ala Eric Frein

    • Mary Jo says:

      I feel the same way about the ID but what about the Tsarnaev brothers being “too stupid” to figure out how to get The MIT officer’s gun from the holster but they can build two remote control bombs?

    • Kevin says:

      Reminds me of the passport of one of the hijackers of 9/11 being found on the street in pretty good condition despite the fact the planes crashed in a fireball into the buildings

    • disqus_a2SRiKaB1i says:

      Perhaps they were not even near the campus. It was the report that they robbed the nearby 7-Eleven that placed them there but they were not the robbers. THINK.

    • Mary Jo says:

      I was injured by Tamerlan’s bomb. I have some questions, but I believe they are both responsible. I don’t want Dzhokhar to be legally killed but life in prison with no parole will be fine.

    • disqus_a2SRiKaB1i says:

      Interesting that you call it “Tamerlans bomb.”

    • Mary Jo says:

      Not so interesting. Almost 2 years later and I’m still having surgery on my face and arm. No matter who you think is responsible, us victims are still here and have to live with the emotional scars as well. I wish you conspiracy people would get that.

    • disqus_a2SRiKaB1i says:

      No conspiracy here. I am not convinced the brothers did it. Jahars bag was white and barely had anything in it. So I cannot agree that he put a 6l bomb down at this time. Waiting for government evidence. For the sake of all I hope we find out who did it but I won’t jump to conclusion.

    • Guest says:

      What you and many others were subjected to, are still going through, and will continue to endure is indescribably unjust and catastrophic. Glib phrases like ‘moving on from it’ are meaningless – you are moving on with it, not from it, as you cannot ‘un-experience’ what happened, nor undo the damage.

      Too right you have questions, and are absolutely owed the full truth, no matter what that is. Anything less or anything else from investigating and prosecuting authorities betrays contempt, in my opinion. It says ‘ it’s OK if the victims don’t get the truth – they’re not worth it. There’s more important things at stake’.

      I am not a conspiracy theorist. I remember several cases here in the UK in the 1970s, involving terrorist bombings. Those arrested were reviled in the media, violently mistreated in jail, by prisoners and staff alike, before the case ever went to trial. They were then found guilty. The victims were relieved, and there was the usual clichés of ‘closure’ and ‘moving on’. The victims spoke their minds – as you have done and have every right to do.

      When legal doubts surfaced about the convictions, victims were furious, and rightly so. They did not want everything revisited – they had tried to keep going as best they could. They believed that the doubts were neither here nor there, that ‘bleeding heart liberal’ lawyers were trying to engineer something on a legal technicality to get their guilty clients released.

      Yet that was nothing compared with the victims’ fury that ensued when it was discovered that LE/prosecution had deliberately concealed exculpatory evidence from the defence. This was done because to get the real perpetrators was not as important as getting a quick result. That was regarded as good enough for the victims.

      This time, the victims were furious at the LE/prosecutors/judges who had betrayed them. The authorities had known for a while who the real perps were, but to admit an error was too much to countenance, so the deceiving of the victims continued. As it turned out, those convicted were innocent and eventually exonerated – having spent the best part of 20 years in jail. If the death penalty had been available to the original trial judge, he was clear that he would have imposed it.

      Nobody wants to believe that such things happen in their own country. People want to be confident of their faith in the justice system and those who run it, and want to believe it is the best in the world. But things go wrong, by accident and by design: universally. Neither you nor I know who did this. You deserve the full truth, no matter what that is.

      I wish you and all the victims every good fortune, and I wish especially that you receive full and honest answers to your questions, and the whole truth about what happened. It is the very least you deserve.

    • Mary Jo says:

      Hello. Unfortunately it really doesn’t matter. They have Dzhokhar and they are not going to be satisfied until he is dead. Even though I believe he and his brother are responsible, I really don’t think Dzhokhar is this monster he is portrayed to be. I am asking questions because alot of the story seems made up, almost silly. I will continue to ask questions because don’t think the boys acted alone. I think they were used and thrown to the wolves.

    • Sniper Kitty says:

      Mary Jo, most of us do get it and our hearts go out to you and other victims. At the same time, for the sake of everyone involved, we ‘conspiracy people’ just want the truth. There are too many things that don’t add up in the official narrative. Perhaps our questions will be answered at trial and if they’re not, I believe the victims, the accused and the public deserve better.

    • disqus_a2SRiKaB1i says:

      The only thing that placed them at/near the MIT campus was the bogus claim that they robbed the 7-Eleven, since retracted. Without that, what makes anyone think they were in the area at the time?

  15. Kurt P says:

    Very similar.
    Both are theater.

  16. Tom74 says:

    That has been what I’ve been thinking – that there are many similarities between what happened in Boston and Paris.
    But I don’t think it is actually clear the suspects in the Paris massacre carried out the attacks. They look to me like patsies.
    Remember that the killers were completely concealed during the attack and then, despite what had to have been a well-planned operation, somehow managed to leave their ID behind in the car, in the most elementary of blunders.
    This has had the desired effect of sending both the police and media on a wild goose chase, giving the real killers (perhaps) the space to flee the country. This looks like some kind of false-flag operation.