Bombings put spotlight back on US-Russia relations

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May 7, 2013, 8:32 pm
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(NECN: Lauren Collins, Bedford, N.H.) - Terrorism is all too common in Russia, especially in its southern regions.

Just last week, a bomb killed two people at a shopping mall in Dagestan.

"It is a hotbed for Islamic extremism," says foreign policy expert Dr. William Martel of the Fletcher School at Tufts University.  

It’s the kind of extremism that may have influenced alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  

Martel says the attack puts Russia back on the U.S. policy radar.

"It's been on again, off again. It'll become a lot more fixed in the public mind, the American mind, because now we have these extremists, these suspects, who spent time varyingly in Dagestan and Chechnya," he says.

The FBI is closely reviewing elder brother Tamerlan's visit to Dagestan last year where he reportedly met with militants. Russian authorities alerted the US as early as 2011 that he might be linked to radical Islamic groups. Martel says the U.S. should have paid more attention to those warnings and these regions, "but we've had a global agenda dealing with extremism. It's the Middle East, it's a lot of places around the world that we've had to deal with extremism, so I think there's we can work more with Moscow on this."

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Moscow to push for cooperation on Syria, but the spirit of that goal now hits close to home.

"Not having extremists creating problems throughout the region and elsewhere."

Collaboration going forward could include whatever information Russia has on the Tsarnaevs and access to their parents, who returned to Russia last year.  

"There are limits though," says Martel. "Russian policy is pretty nationalistic anyway as it is and I think Putin would be very hesitant to look like he's helping the Americans a lot."

Tags: new hampshire, United States, John Kerry, terrorism, Russia, Lauren Collins, Bedford, Boston Marathon bombings, Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, extremism, US Russia relations, Dr. William Martel, Fletcher School at Tufts University
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