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What We Know About the Terrorists



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UPDATED

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apparently became an American citizen on Sept. 11, 2012.

The Wall Street Journal is out with quick but extensive profile of the Tsarnaev family. Click and read the whole thing, but here are some relevant tidbits:

  • “Records indicate one or both of the bombing suspects had spent time in the Caucasus region since they first immigrated to the U.S. and then returned to the U.S., officials said.”
  • “Both boys were good students, the family friend said, but Tamerlan dropped out of community college and was soon drawn into religious matters, he said. Dzhokhar ”had a gentler demeanor”, the family friend said, but had also apparently taken a deeper interest in religious affairs.”
  • “[T]he father, Anzor Tsarnaev, was a talented car mechanic and aspired to open his own garage. But he never mastered English, the friend said, or opened his own workspace. He tried to make ends meet by doing odd repair jobs for $10 an hour. About two years ago was stricken with brain cancer, and departed to Germany last year for treatment, according to a friend of the family.

Foreign Policy has a more detailed guide to the religious videos posted on a YouTube page that appears to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s. One video explains the proper approach to Muslim prayer, another criticizes the pro-Moscow Chechen government, referring to the Chechen president as an apostate.

The “white hat”, Dzhokhar, has been identified as a student at UMass-Dartmouth.

 

 

The AP has more details about the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,who is at this moment still at large:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, graduating in 2011, the year he won the scholarship, which was celebrated with a reception at City Hall, according to a news release issued at the time. Before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian. His world view is described as “Islam” and he says his personal goal is “career and money.”

And from Reuters

He has posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles like “Salamworld, my religion is Islam” and “There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts”.

He also has links to pages calling for independence for Chechnya, a region of Russia that lost its bid for secession after two wars in the 1990s.

The page also reveals a sense of humor, around his identity as a member of a minority from southern Russia’s restive Caucasus, which includes Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and other predominately Muslim regions that have seen two decades of unrest since the fall of the Soviet Union.

A video labeled “tormenting my brother” shows a man resembling his dead brother Tamerlan laughing and imitating the accents of different Caucasian ethnic groups.

He has posted his own joke: “A car goes by with a Chechen, a Dagestani and an Ingush inside. Question: who is driving?”

The answer: the police.

More pics of the suspects via the FBI.

Via Dave Weigel, here are some telling captions from a photo essay called “Will Box for Food” on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the now dead ”suspect number one”, who was an amateur boxer:

Tamerlan, who studies at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston and wants to become an engineer, took the semester off from school to train for the competition.

Tamerlan fled Chechnya with his family because of the conflict in the early 90s, and lived for years in Kazakhstan before getting to the United States as a refugee.

Originally from Chechnya, but living in the United States since five years, Tamerlan says: “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”

If he wins enough fights… Tamerlan says he could be selected for the US Olympic team and be naturalized American. Unless his native Chechnya becomes independent, Tamerlan says he would rather compete for the United States than for Russia.

Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: “God said no alcohol.” A muslim, he says: “There are no values anymore,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”

From Buzzfeed: Tamerlan had a YouTube page focused on Islam. “The most recent subscription is to a channel called Allah is the One. . . . Tamerlan also created four playlists, one called Islam, and another, called Terrorists, which has two deleted videos.”

From Adam Serwer, Tamerlan apparently posted an Islamist video about an end-times prophecy embraced by the likes of al-Qaeda:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26 year-old brother of the second Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had a YouTube page where he posted religious videos, including a video of Feiz Mohammad, a fundamentalist Australian Muslim preacher who rails against the evils of Harry Potter. Among those videos is one dedicated to the prophecy of the Black Banners of Khurasan which is embraced by Islamic extremists—particularly Al Qaeda. The videos posted on what appears to be Tsarnaev’s YouTube page may shed light on the motivations for the attack on the Boston Marathon. The prophecy states that an invincible army will come from the region of “Khurasan,” a large portion of territory in central Asia.

“This is a major hadith (reported saying of the prophet Muhammad) that jihadis use, it is essentially an end-time prophecy,” says Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy “This is definitely important in Al Qaeda’s ideology.” In The Black Banners, former FBI agent Ali Soufan’s book about his pursuit of Al Qaeda that is named after this prophecy, Soufan describes the prophecy this way:

Khurasan is a term for a historical region spanning northeastern and eastern Iran and parts of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and northwestern Pakistan. Because of the hadith, jihadists believe that this is the region from which they will inflict a major defeat against their enemies—in the Islamic version of Armageddon.



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