Here’s What We Know So Far About the Alleged Boston Bomber Brothers
Apr. 19, 2013 11:10am
Major breaks in the Boston Marathon terror attack were made on Friday morning, with names of the alleged bombers gaining widespread attention. Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, are at the center of an investigation in which authorities are working diligently to find answers. But who are these men — and what’s their story?
While it’s still early, key details have already emerged, bringing faces and potential perspectives of the two men who were previously known as Suspect Number One and Suspect Number Two. Alleged social media profiles and purported online activity did shed some purported light on the Tsarnaev brothers’ views (although, again, it’s not entirely clear if these profiles belong to the men).
So far, what we know is that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were like many immigrants who have come to America and assimilated into the culture. On the “Today” show this morning, of of Dzhokhar’s high school classmates spoke of her peer as someone who seemed normal and who was a member of the wrestling team.
Another former student named Lulu Emmons said that she was “shocked” and echoed claims that he was “normal.” One of his former teachers, Larry Aaronson, has also recalled teaching the student in his photography class.
“If someone were to ask me what the kid was like, I would say he had a heart of gold,” he said, according to the Boston Globe. “He was as gracious as possible.”
A profile in the Globe went on to add to this narrative, writing, “Suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing appeared to embody the best of the American immigrant experience, having come from southern Russia, near war-torn Chechnya, more than five years ago, and assimilated into the local Cambridge community and culture.”
Globe reporter Mark Arsenault goes on to confirm some of the details in our previous post — that Tamerlan, who was killed last night, is a talented boxer who wanted to join the U.S. Olympic team. He had hopes of being an engineer and had studied at a local college.
The Christian Science Monitor has more about the brother’s back story, based on a photo essay that photographer Johannes Hirn put together:
“Unless his native Chechnya becomes independent, Tamerlan says he would rather compete for the United States than for Russia,” Mr. Hirn wrote in one caption.
Other captions depict the elder Tsarnaev as a Muslim who abstains from alcohol and is bewildered by the immorality of the surrounding American culture.
Dzhokhar, as we noted, won a scholarship and graduated from a well-known charter school called Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.
In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, the brothers’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, told the outlet that his son Dzhokhar is “a true angel” and that his boy is currently studying medicine. The interview was conducted from the Russian city of Makhachkala. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the AP notes, was registered as a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
“He is such an intelligent boy,” Anzor continued. “We expected him to come on holidays here.”
Ruslan Tsarni, the boys’ uncle, also told the AP that the two have been in the U.S. for the past decade and that they have lived near Boston. This seems to corroborate a NBC News report which read: “Law enforcement officials also told NBC News that the brothers entered the United States with family in 2002 or 2003, and that Tamerlan Tsarnaev became a legal permanent resident in 2007. ”
The Tsarnaev brothers purportedly came from Chechnya, an area of Russia that has long struggled with Islamic extremism, but considering that they’ve been in America for quite some time, investigators don’t yet know why Tamerlan and Dzhokhar allegedly orchestrated this attack.
If, indeed, the men are from Chechnya, Fox News offers up some interesting information about the region to consider:
Reports that the suspects in the Boston bombing are believed to be from Chechnya or a nearby region may have caught some by surprise — rebels in Chechnya are known for their violent and long-running campaign to break away from Russia, but not for exporting terror to America.
But congressional researchers and foreign policy analysts have long tracked a connection between the Chechnya region and Islamic extremists with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. If the suspects are indeed Chechen, analysts told Fox News they may represent part of a jihadi network which has made its way to American soil.
“The Chechen jihadi network is very extensive,” Middle East analyst Walid Phares said Friday. “They have a huge network inside Russia and Chechnya.”
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Chechen rebels are motivated by two things – a desire for independence from Russia and Islamic radicalism. He speculated that, if the suspects are Chechen, they could be motivated more by the latter. “They could well be supported by a significant international network,” he said.
Some of this, of course, is speculation at the moment, as definitive determinations have not yet been made.
Russia Today reports that the brothers’ mother has a criminal record of her own:
Apparently also resident in the US, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, turns out to have a criminal record of her own. On June 13, 2012, the 45-year-old was arrested by the police in Natick, Massachusetts, and charged with larceny of women’s clothing valued at $1,624, as well as two counts of malicious damage to property.
And Tamerian was purportedly arrested for domestic assault and battery after purportedly abusing his girlfriend in 2009.
Stay tuned for additional updates.
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