Radicalized into an extremist form of Islam over the Internet and by perhaps also meeting with extremists in Dagestan and even in Boston it appears that Tamerlan Tsaraev was the main instigator behind the Boston marathon bombings--bringing his younger brother along with him into his murderous acts.
As the facts of the case are still being uncovered it looks like Tamerlan Tsaraev, a young man who came out of the Chechen conflict was perhaps carrying traumatic memories in his heart and was well aware of the civilian casualties and human rights atrocities there--even having lived through some of them. And feeling sympathy for Muslims in other parts of the world who also live under oppression, he fell prey to the al Qaeda militant jihadi ideology that claims Muslims are under attack by western powers and urges Muslims to do something about it.
From his Internet record it's clear that on his road to extremism Tamerlan felt particular empathy for the rebel uprising in Syria that was being crushed with a high civilian death toll by Assad, as was the Chechen uprising crushed by Putin. We know that Tamerlan entered this country a vulnerable individual--an asylum seeker with likely sympathy for Muslims under attack and somewhere--either in his Internet browsing, trip to Dagestan or even in Boston--he encountered a virulent ideology espoused by a worldwide terrorist group as well as social support for buying into a sick narrative.
Tamerlan was also stymied in his pursuit of the American dream. His father, a former official in the Kyrgyz prosecutor's office struggled to make it here--demoted to a car mechanic working outside in the cold. His parents divorced, his mother was arrested for shoplifting and they both left the country. Excelling as boxer, Tamerlan found his dreams dashed as well. In 2010 he was blocked from continuing to compete by his immigration status following a change in the boxing tournament rules. Once a flamboyant, cocky upstart known to enjoy partying, Tamerlan became dejected and retreated into a conservative form of Islam--rejecting those who had rejected him--and he then slipped somewhere along that path into extremism.
But is this the whole story in his case?
It appears not so, as the reopening of a triple homicide in Boston, occurring on 9-11-2011 is also raising some other troubling questions about Tamerlan Tsaraev.
The homocides involve the murder of three young men--two Jewish and the third, Brendan Mess--a young man who Tamerlan had formerly introduced at his boxing gym as his "best friend". The men were murdered in their apartment on a highly symbolic date--the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 al Qaeda attacks. There was with no forced entry--it appears the young men opened their door to a familiar person. $5000 was left on the scene of the crime indicating it was not a robbery. And the men each had their throats slit--in the same manner in which Mohamed Boyeri of the Netherlands ritually murdered Theo van Gogh, a man who Boyeri viewed as an apostate. Some reports state that the three were nearly beheaded--a crime common among Chechen terrorists. And marijuana was sprinkled over their bodies. It seems the crime was meant to convey a message--about the corrupting power of the west, drugs and a militant jihadi answer--of annihilation and destruction.
Tellingly, after the murder of his "best friend" Tamerlan did not attend the funeral and self isolated--he stopped going to the gym. He was already at that time a "revert" for a couple of years to a more conservative form of Islam than is practiced in his home country--except by extremists--and he had backed off of drinking, changed his flamboyant western dress and partying lifestyle. He had also argued with some of his family members about his views of Islam, expressing extremist's views, calling one uncle an infidel and telling them that Allah had a plan for him--that he no longer had a need to concern himself with work or studies. And within three months after the murders he disappeared to Dagestan only to reemerge in July 2012 apparently with an ugly plot forming in his mind.
Is there a connection between the 9-11 murders of Tamerlan's "best friend" and his roommates? Was theirs a ritualized Takfiri murder similar to beheadings carried out by al Qaeda affiliated groups throughout the world, Chechen terrorists and others expressing their murderous rage at the west? Had Tamerlan--perhaps like many trauma survivors or those stressed by immigration--tried to calm his nerves by drinking or using drugs--or was he just a normal young man partying--until he found his chosen life path blocked by a change in the tournament rules? And then after having lived outside of Islamic rules in the west did he later decide at his mother's urging to clean up by "reverting" to a conservative form of Islam, fall into extremism and in doing so blamed the west for corrupting him--then seek to destroy it? Or was he angry about his brother's marijuana use and striking out at those who may have supplied him?
Certainly the April bombings point to a young man who was filled with a self righteous hatred that allowed him to strike out at innocent men, women and children--maiming and killing them with no sense of conscience. Did this hate have some of its origins in either his or his brother's drug use and a wish to destroy those who he later blamed for corrupting him?
These are questions that still remain unanswered but beg to be more thoroughly investigated by the authorities.