[Marxism] Details on the Tsarnaev brothers
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 21 07:06:56 MDT 2013
(It turns out that they weren't enjoying the "bounties" of American
society that much.)
The Wall Street Journal
Life in America Unraveled for Brothers
By ALAN CULLISON and PAUL SONNE in Moscow and JENNIFER LEVITZ in
Where did the alleged bombers of the Boston Marathon come from? What
were their career aspirations? What can we learn from their online media
presence? WSJ's Jason Bellini has "The Short Answer."
The two Chechen brothers accused in the Boston Marathon bombing set
about building American lives after coming to the U.S. about a decade ago.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 years old, became a successful Golden Gloves
boxer. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, was a nursing student and
became an American citizen just last year, on Sept. 11.
But a close examination of the Tsarnaev family's life in the U.S. shows
a hopeful immigrant trajectory veering off course.
For nearly 24 hours, a dragnet of cinematic proportion played out in
Boston's eerily quiet streets after the two brothers were branded as the
architects of Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. A gunbattle in
Watertown, Mass., left Tamerlan dead by early Friday morning, and police
put Boston on lockdown after Dzhokhar eluded capture. Later Friday,
however, he was apprehended.
On Friday, details from their lives emerged through interviews with
neighbors and relatives, and from their online activities. Acquaintances
recalled the brothers as strong students and avid athletes. They left
few clues suggesting they would be capable of the gruesome acts the
police say they committed.
But the patriarch of the family, a talented auto mechanic named Anzor
Tsarnaev, struggled to make a living. Tamerlan, his eldest son, failed
to make a career out of boxing, dropped out of community college for
lack of money and struggled to find work.
Living on public assistance in a multifamily house in Cambridge, the
family began to fray, friends said. The parents separated. Anzor
Tsarnaev returned to Russia, battling illness.
Along the way, Tamerlan's attitude seemed to sour. "I like the USA," he
told the Lowell Sun newspaper in 2004 while competing in a boxing
tournament shortly after arriving in the U.S. "America has a lot of
jobs." But a caption accompanying an online photo of him a few years
later reads: "Originally from Chechnya, but living in the U.S. since
five years…I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."
Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of the two brothers, told reporters outside his
Maryland home Friday that his nephews were "losers" who were unable to
settle into American life "and thereby just hating everyone who did." He
said he didn't think there was an ideological motive. "This has nothing
to do with Chechnya," he said. He also indicated there was a rift
between him and his brothers. "It's personal," he said, "I didn't like
The boys' mother said in a television interview with the Russian
state-run news channel RT Friday night that anyone calling her son a
loser is a loser himself. "I am really sure, like I am 100% sure, that
this is a setup," Zubeidat K. Tsarnaev said. She also said that she had
been contacted by the FBI about her older son, before Monday's deadly
attack, as he grew more religious.
The boys' father, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, said he
was present when the FBI interviewed Tamerlan in Cambridge. He said they
visited for what they called "prevention" activities. "They said: We
know what sites you are on, we know where you are calling, we know
everything about you. Everything," Mr. Tsarnaev said.
Another relative—Maret Tsarnaev, the paternal aunt of the
brothers—defended the sons. "Nothing points out that my nephews did [the
bombings]…I demand evidence," she said.
The Tsarnaev family, which included two boys and two girls, had come to
America after facing discrimination as ethnic Chechens living in
Kyrgyzstan during wars in their ethnic homeland. A separatist rebellion
there, with elements of radical Islam, had been crushed by the Kremlin
under presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.
Before arriving in the U.S., the family lived in a number of places.
Anzor, the father, grew up as an ethnic Chechen in Kyrgyzstan, and said
he briefly returned to Chechnya with the family in the early 1990s
before moving back to the Central Asian republic. He then left
Kyrgyzstan again, facing discrimination. The family lived for a few
years in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, where Ms. Tsarnaev's
family is from, before moving to the U.S.
U.S. law-enforcement officials said the two brothers came to the U.S. at
different times. Dzhokhar arrived with his parents in 2002, just before
he turned 10. Tamerlan arrived on his own around 2004. The family was
granted legal permanent residence in the U.S. in March 2007, a
law-enforcement official said.
An aunt, who already lived in the U.S., helped them get established.
Soon they moved into a house in a poorer neighborhood near the border of
Boston's Cambridge and Somerville suburbs. There they faced headwinds
that many immigrant families encounter.
One problem was money. The father was unable to find steady work as a
mechanic. He struggled to make ends meet by fixing cars on the street
for $10 an hour, a practice that prompted neighbors to complain,
according to one of the neighbors.
Tamerlan excelled in school but dropped out of Bunker Hill Community
College because of money, according to the family's landlord, Joanna
Herlihy. In an interview published in a Russian newspaper Friday, the
father also recounted his younger son's problems with money, which he
said he tried to solve by working as a lifeguard between studies.
Ms. Herlihy, who speaks Russian and helped tutor the children, said
Tamerlan's boxing dreams eventually crumbled. "His back was in really
bad shape and he couldn't get into the Olympics, and that was the last
thing he really worked hard at," Ms. Herlihy said.
Dzhokhar excelled as a student at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School. "I
know this kid to be compassionate. I know this kid to be forthcoming,"
said Larry Aaronson, a retired history teacher at the high school.
"Every conversation I had with him—he was generous, compassionate and
A former classmate there said, "His brother and family weren't really
Westernized, but Dzhokhar was really integrated into our school
community. He was a normal American kid."
Attorney Andrea Kramer said Friday her sons played on the varsity soccer
team while Dzhokhar played on the junior-varsity squad. Dzhokhar "wasn't
'them.' He was 'us,'" Ms. Kramer said. "He was Cambridge" and part of a
community whose "strength and beauty" is its diversity.
The younger Mr. Tsarnaev was seen on campus at the University of
Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he was studying nursing, in the days
after the marathon attack, possibly on Wednesday, according to one
student who lived in his dorm. He said his roommate shouted "Yo,
Dzhokhar" to him in greeting.
Authorities are now trying to determine whether or not the young men had
contact with terrorist figures. Last year Tamerlan traveled to
Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, the Russian republic next to
Chechnya where his father currently lives and where he has other
relatives as well. Dagestan is home to a simmering Islamist insurgency.
Tamerlan came up with money for the trip and unexpectedly left for the
Russian region. A law-enforcement official confirmed that Tamerlan flew
out of New York on Jan. 12, 2012, for Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport and
returned July 17. To travel to Dagestan from the U.S., most passengers
go through Moscow.
The brothers' father, Anzor, said Tamerlan was with him while in
Dagestan. "He wasn't occupied with anything. He was just visiting
relatives," Mr. Tsarnaev said. He said there is no way his son
interacted with Islamic fundamentalists while on the trip. "There aren't
even any of those here anymore," he said.
Before his departure, Tamerlan was showing signs of stricter religious
beliefs, a family friend said. "He started to pray," his father said.
About 3½ years ago he had married an American woman who mothered his
child and converted to Islam. She was supporting him in recent months as
a home health aide, the friend said.
His father said Tamerlan had a domestic incident in his past with his
first girlfriend, and had struck her.
Richard Medeiros, who lives in the house behind the suspects, says that
six months or so ago, Tamerlan, after being clean-shaven, grew a beard.
"He looked like one of those Amish people," said Mr. Medeiros, who is 40
and lives in an apartment building that was evacuated by police and
remained cordoned off Friday afternoon. "It made him look really old."
He said he must have shaved it only recently. "That's why I did not
recognize him in the photos," he said.
He said his wife wore a black head-covering "down to her eyebrows" and
was the friendliest of the group. "She was always asking, 'Hey, how ya
doing? Is your leg getting better?'" said Mr. Medeiros, who is on crutches.
Tamerlan also influenced his younger brother. In an interview Friday
with a Russian newspaper, his father, Anzor, said Dzhokhar "wouldn't
have gotten involved in this against the will of his brother, Tamerlan,
and his older brother never would have allowed such things." He denied
that his sons were guilty.
In another interview, with a Russian tabloid-news website, he expressed
concern about the fate of his sons. "We wanted some peace and calm in
life," he said. "And you see what they've found. They were running away
from one thing and they met another."
—Lisa Fleisher in West New York, N.J., Sara Germano in New York and
David George-Cosh in Toronto contributed to this article.
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