Sunday, April 21, 2013

"But there were hints of something ominous underneath the surface: a message on Dzhokhar’s Twitter feed on Marathon Monday last year referred to a Koran verse often used by radical Muslim clerics and propagandists"

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L), 26, is pictured in 2010 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is pictured in an undated FBI handout photo in this combination photo. REUTERS/The Sun of Lowell, MA/FBI/Handout
Yet no one in his mosque asked any questions, nor had any program in place to address the growing problem of jihad within its members.  The mosque the brothers went to had hosted a radial Islamic cleric in the past, maybe they heard the sermon and took to heart sura 9 verse 29 "Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled."

From the Boston Globe April 19 by Jenna Russell, Jenn Abelson, Patricia Wen, Michael Rezendes, and David Filipov

Brothers in Marathon bombings took two paths into infamy

The two young brothers from Cambridge seemed to be on promising paths, one a scholarship student at college, the other fighting for a national title in amateur boxing.

And then, apparently with little warning, they veered violently off track, deep into the darkness, setting off deadly bombs, authorities are convinced, at one of Boston’s most iconic and joyful events.

To those who knew them, the apparent transformation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 — ethnic Chechens, born in the former Soviet territory now known as Kyrgyzstan and transplanted to a working-class Inman Square neighborhood — seemed almost inconceivable.
But as friends and neighbors pieced together recollections of the terrorism suspects and their family, a picture emerged of an older brother who seemed to grow increasingly religious and radical — and who may have drawn his more easygoing younger brother into a secret plot of violence and hatred.

“I used to warn Dzhokhar that Tamerlan was up to no good,” Zaur Tsarnaev, who identified himself as a 26-year-old cousin, said in a phone interview from Makhachkala, Russia, where the brothers briefly lived. “[Tamerlan] was always getting in trouble. He was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. . . . He was not a nice man.”

The older brother dropped out of college, was seemingly unemployed, and faced a domestic violence charge in 2009. The younger brother, Dzhokhar (pronounced Ja-HAR), seemed less troubled, people who knew him said, a friendly, relaxed teenager called “an angel” by his uncle and a party-loving “pothead” by some friends. But there were hints of something ominous underneath the surface: a message on Dzhokhar’s Twitter feed on Marathon Monday last year referred to a Koran verse often used by radical Muslim clerics and propagandists.

The two young men, seven years apart, shared a keen intelligence and willingness to work hard, according to interviews with dozens of people who knew them. But there were stark differences between Tamerlan, who came to America as a teenager, and Dzhokhar, who was 10 or 11 when the family immigrated to the United States, and by all accounts thrived in their new American home. Their father, a lawyer before he emigrated, worked as an auto mechanic in the the United States, while their mother was a licensed cosmetologist.

Their older son, an accomplished amateur boxer described by some as arrogant or standoffish, aspired to be an engineer but dropped out of Bunker Hill Community College. His younger brother, a well-liked wrestling team captain and National Honor Society member in high school, is currently enrolled as a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, living in a dorm on campus and studying to be a marine biologist.

“If someone were to ask me what this kid is like, I would say that he had a heart of gold,” said Larry Aaronson, who taught the younger suspect at the public Cambridge Rindge & Latin School. “He was as gracious as possible … This is all surreal to me.”

Family history

The Tsarnaev brothers were ethnic Chechens, born in the former Soviet Republic now called Kyrgyzstan. Whether they ever lived in war-torn Chechnya is unclear. Their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, was described by family Friday as a former Russian amateur boxing champion. While the family was living in Kyrgyzstan, Anzor Tsarnayev said in an interview Friday by the Russian agency, they had trouble with government authorities.

“In Kyrgyzstan we were oppressed,” the father said. “We wanted a quiet life. I was afraid for my kids and tried to save them.”

By 2001, the family had taken refuge in Makhachkala, the capital of the predominantly Muslim Russian region of Dagestan, which borders Chechnya. There, the brothers briefly attended grade school. Anzor’s sister Maret Tsarnaeva told reporters that she wrote the refugee petition in April 2002 for the father, mother and youngest son, Dzhokhar, to receive asylum in the United States. The three other children, Tamerlan and his sisters, Alina and Bella, joined the family later.

With the family reunited in the United States, they seemed to be on the path to fulfilling their American dreams. The brothers attended high school and college and seemed to be succeeding, family members said.

“Everything was perfect because Anzor is a very loving soft hearted father,” Maret said of her brother.

But Anzor Tsarnaev’s former boss at Webster Auto Body in Somerville saw a very different side of the man, describing him as “one of the toughest guys I’ve ever known.”

Joe Timko, a foreman at the repair shop where Anzor Tsarnaev worked several years ago, recalled seeing him changing a transmission in a car in front of his house in single digit temperatures and snow. Timko said he instilled that toughness in his sons, sometimes riding a bike to a boxing gym on Somerville Avenue, while Tamerlan ran alongside him, training.

Tamerlan, the eldest son, became an amateur boxer, emulating his father, who helped train him. Boxing as a heavyweight, he competed in the national Golden Gloves competition, said John Allan, owner of Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts in Allston, who remembered seeing him compete.

“He was the best boxer in Boston,” said Allan. “He smoked all of the professionals.”

“He was noticeable because he was very relaxed, very smooth.” said Douglas A. Yoffe, the coach at the Harvard Boxing Club, who has seen Tamerlan box about half a dozen times over the past decade.

Yoffe also said Tamerlan stood out because he kept his distance from others in the clubs and at the tournaments where he fought.

“I remember he had that blase attitude,” Yoffe added. “For a very young fighter he was almost disdainful. He was very confident.”

Profiled in the Lowell Sun in 2004, Tamerlan said he liked the USA.

“America has a lot of jobs. That’s something Russia doesn’t have,” he told the newspaper. “You have a chance to make money here if you are willing to work.”

He later said, in a photo essay about his boxing exploits, that he hoped to be selected for the US Olympic team, and that he dreamed of becoming a naturalized citizen. But he also lamented his alienation, saying, “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.’’

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