Journalism in the Public Interest

Boston Bombing Suspects Echo Home-Grown Terrorists in Madrid, London Attacks

Counterterror officials say the emerging portrait suggests the brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev slipped into Islamic extremism under the influence of Internet propaganda.

Police patrol through a neighborhood in Watertown, Mass., while searching for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, on April 19, 2013. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)

April 20: This story has been corrected.

As an eighth-grader in a Cambridge public school, suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was quiet, friendly, spoke good English and seemed at home in his adopted country.

While hundreds of police officers pursued the 19-year-old during a nationally-televised rampage across Boston Friday, a former classmate recounted memories of the refugee who, according to counterterror officials, became a U.S. citizen on an ironic date: Sept. 11, 2012.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (FBI)The story of the Boston bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, is still unfolding at high speed. Many aspects of the case, including the brothers' motivations, are not yet clear.

But a portrait began to emerge Friday based on ProPublica interviews with counterterror officials, the public statements of relatives and associates, and reports in the media.

Counterterror officials believe the brothers were Islamic extremists. And the information available so far suggests that they appeared to integrate well into U.S. society, yet slid into a spiral of Islamic radicalization with bloody results. The profile has similarities to the home-grown terrorists behind attacks in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005, according to counterterror officials.

"He was always a nice kid," said Cam Blauchner, who attended middle school with Dzhokhar, in a telephone interview with ProPublica. "He was shy, but not in a creepy way. He was a sweet guy. We played soccer together. I knew he was from Chechnya, but he never talked about it. He never mentioned his religious affiliation. I didn't know he was Muslim."

At some point, however, Dzhokhar and his brother plunged into a subculture that is grimly familiar to counterterror agencies in Europe and, to a lesser but worrisome extent, the United States, officials said.

There are signs that the brothers showed interest in the conflict in Syria, which has drawn al Qaida fighters and other militants from across the Muslim world and Europe, according to a U.S. counterterror official. Like others interviewed for this story, the official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the ongoing case.

The brothers had viewed videos about the plight of Syrian Muslims, the official said. Syria is the latest hotspot on the world map of jihad. Holy warriors a decade ago were inspired by videos about brutal combat between jihadis and Russian troops in the brothers' family homeland: the predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya, a breeding ground for al Qaida fighters in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Tamerlan had viewed a video titled "I Dedicate My Life to Jihad," according to a U.S. law enforcement official. The brothers also were apparently influenced by the online Inspire magazine, a slick English-language publication that plays a strong role in disseminating ideological tracts and bomb-making techniques to Western extremists, the U.S. counterterror official said.

"It's like London, it's like Madrid in the radicalization," the counterterror official said. "These guys were produced by the international jihadist machine. The biggest thing is they were individuals willing to die. They were committed. There was interest in events overseas affecting Muslims. And a lot of Internet activity — the things that everyone in the counterterror community worries about."

The brothers had traveled in recent years to Russia, officials said. Tamerlan returned via New York from a trip to Moscow in July 2012, according to a U.S. law enforcement official. But officials said nothing so far indicates recent travel to Chechnya, in southern Russia, or war zones where terrorist groups provide training and direction to Western recruits.

"The big question is, are they part of a bigger network or just two brothers who decided to do this and pulled it off on their own?" the law enforcement official said. The well-choreographed bombing, the preparation of multiple explosive devices and the ferocity with which the fugitives battled police could indicate overseas training, officials said.

Suspected Chechen terrorists have been arrested in alleged bomb plots in Denmark, France and Spain in recent years. The failed "underwear" bomber who tried to blow up a plane over Detroit in 2009 was trained and deployed by al Qaida in Yemen. Would-be bombers in plots against New York in 2009 and 2010 were directed by al Qaida and allied networks in Pakistan.

The brothers are ethnic Chechens whose family moved around the war-torn Caucuses region when the boys were young. Tamerlan was born in Dagestan, near Chechnya, and Dzhokhar in Kyrgyzstan, according to officials and media reports. They went as refugees to the United States, arriving separately, according to counterterror officials and televised statements by an uncle in Maryland.

Dzhokhar arrived in 2002 on a tourist visa, obtained permanent resident status in 2007 and became a citizen in 2012, officials said. Tamerlan was admitted as a refugee in 2003 and later became a permanent resident, officials said. Tamerlan has an arrest for domestic violence on his record, the law enforcement official said.

The family lived in Cambridge when Dzhokhar was in middle school at the Community Charter School of Cambridge, according to his classmate, Blauchner. Dzhokhar stood out in a mostly African-American student population, but he got along well with classmates at the school, which stresses academic rigor and strict discipline, according to Blauchner, now a sophomore at the University of Chicago.

Dzhokhar had long hair and was short, pale and thin when Blauchner knew him in seventh and eighth grade. The immigrant boy wore the school-mandated uniform of khaki pants and a white, black or red polo shirt. He often ate lunch in the cafeteria with Blauchner and friends of Ethiopian and Bengali descent.

Dzhokhar studied hard and stayed out of trouble, according to Blauchner, and went on to win a scholarship, according to media reports. He was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, according to media reports.

"He never seemed disgruntled," Blauchner said. "He never seemed sad. We weren't the nerdy kids, but we were more into academics."

Although he has not seen Dzhokhar since they graduated from middle school, Blauchner said he recognized his former classmate from the photos made public by the FBI. Blauchner was stunned.

The frenzy after the Boston Marathon attacks recalls the aftermath of the bombings on public transport systems that killed 191 people in Madrid in 2004 and 52 people in London in 2005, as well as a failed bombing in London two weeks later.

Those cases similarly featured frantic manhunts, publicized photos of suspects, and chaotic and confused media reports.

In Madrid, police tracked down a group of suspects who died after a shootout when their booby-trapped hideout exploded, killing a police officer.

The profiles of the Madrid and London suspects resemble the information emerging about the Tsarnaev brothers. Spaniards and Britons were shocked to discover that the terrorists had grown up in their midst and benefited from the comfort of Western societies.

A Tunisian-born leader of the Madrid bombers had received a Spanish university scholarship and was a well-liked employee at a real estate agency.

A Moroccan-born leader spoke street Spanish, was known by the nicknames "El Chino" and "Mowgli," dealt drugs and zoomed around with his long-haired Spanish girlfriend on a motorcycle.

Several convicted bombers in the failed London attack had come to Britain as children thanks to generous asylum policies for refugees from East Africa. Three of the suicide bombers who died in the successful attack two weeks earlier were seemingly well-integrated, British-born sons of Pakistani immigrants.

Yet, despite their Western ways, the attackers in London and Madrid harbored deep hatreds and inflicted indiscriminate slaughter on their fellow citizens.

Young men from Muslim immigrant backgrounds who radicalize in the West get swept up in the seductive outlaw culture of jihad. They construct a new identity in which the struggles of their Muslim homelands, even if they do not know them well, play a powerful role and foment anger at the West.

Counterterror officials say a similar trajectory could explain why the Tsarnaev brothers designed an attack on families at a festive sporting event.

Whatever the motive turns out to be, the fact that the brothers spent years in Boston sheds light on their choice of target. They likely knew the significance of the marathon, the ebb and flow of the crowds during the race, the geography. It remains to be seen whether they considered the symbolism of the date: April 15 was both tax day and Patriots' Day, marking the first battles of the American Revolution.

The choice of the day led some counterterror officials in recent days to suspect that the bombers were American-born, extreme-right, antigovernment terrorists.

In reality, it appears the suspects were the mix that most worries law enforcement: longtime Americanized residents who know the society well, but have a profile enabling them to develop connections to Islamic extremist ideology, if not actual movements, overseas.

The Madrid bombers had strong ideological links to al Qaida, but carried out the attacks with minimal overseas training and direction. The London bombers, in contrast, communicated with al Qaida masterminds who provided training and directed them to their targets from Pakistan.

The results in both cases were devastating.

Now, U.S. intelligence officials are combing through files, intercepts and data bases to see if they had previous information on extremist activity of the Tsarnaev brothers. In Madrid, London and many other cases, the attackers had earlier surfaced on the radar screen of law enforcement.

That is not necessarily a scandal; it is simply the reality of the terrain of counterterrorism.

Updated Friday, April 19, 9:10 p.m.

The FBI interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the brothers suspected in the Boston bombings, in 2011, two U.S. law enforcement officials told ProPublica Friday evening. The FBI agents conducted the inquiry into suspected extremist or terrorist activity at the request of a Russian security agency, the officials said.

“Yes he was interviewed,” a U.S. law enforcement official said. “Nothing derogatory came of it. We reported it back to the other agency, but never got anything as far as further communications from them. There was never any reason to do anything else.”

Tsarnaev’s mother has told media outlets that the FBI had contact with her about her son’s potential involvement in extremism five years ago, but the law enforcement official said authorities were only aware of the inquiry in 2011. Other media outlets also reported the 2011 interview late Friday.

In past cases in the United States and overseas, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have identified, followed or investigated suspects who were later implicated in attacks or plots. Experts point out that security forces simply do not have enough personnel to constantly watch every potential extremist who comes to their attention. Hard decisions have to be made.

Cases that have brought criticism of U.S. authorities include the failure to more closely investigate leads about Maj. Nidal Hassan, the accused shooter in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, and about David Coleman Headley, a central figure in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Correction: An earlier version of this update misspelled Tamerlan Tsarnaev's last name.

Thomas Blaney

April 19, 2013, 5 p.m.

The only difference between the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Columbine, is the choice of weapons.

This is serious;  we need to counter this one way or the other.
This attack by home-grown terrorists is very worrisome.
We have obviously failed somehow; we must do better.

lost me at: “..spoke good English..”


Failed “somehow”? You don’t really know? Brush up on your American foreign policy history, and you’ll find out really quickly why there is a virulent strain of anti-americanism infecting impressionable young people around the world. Start with Chalmers Johnson, John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, George Galloway.. Or, better yet, read Osama bin Laden’s own words.

Here’s one example: Allowing 500,000 Iraqi children in the 90s (which former Sec. Albright said was acceptable) to die from water contamination—preventable if we allowed chlorine to enter the country—might be something that people in that area would be a little upset over.

Read and you will understand.

Interesting that the reporter has indicted, tried and convicted these two people based, mostly it seems, on the “evidence” of “officials” who remain anonymous.  And one of them is dead and can no longer defend himself in any way. 

So much for innocent until proven guilty, due process, right to confront those who accuse you.  We don’t need those in the US anymore.  We have drones and anonymous officials now to tell us who’s guilty.

What’s happened is horrible, just as the all too frequent bombings in Iraq and elsewhere are, what is the US if it no longer abides by its own laws and Constitution?

Did you ever think that this has nothing to do with Chechnya, but perhaps everything to do with the starvation in Guantonamo Bay and the hunger strikes?

This is a disastrous defeat for a degenerate ‘Lib’ government. and a disgrace for America. Can you imagine 1000’s of people cowering under their beds, defenseless -  while 2 teen Muslim Terrorists hold Boston and the East Coast hostage for 5 days!

If this isn’t a World Wide display of the failures of Regressive!!

I’m speechless as I’m a recipient of the generous grant of the refugee program. I’m ashamed to learn how some people have the guts to byte the very hand that someday pulled them out of their miseries… Just ashamed to even write about it. I was very close to being wasted, my family and kids then that program “Resettlement” pulled me to where I started fresh. No matter what version of Islam or other religion I’m practicing now, but harming the very country that accepted me and gave me the chance to make it up to this comments, should never be part of my thinking.
I’m in line with others to defend our democracy which I believe to be the only reason for others to attack and form these type of terror plots, and as I always say, I have lost one home before, I can not afford to lose another one.

I’m speechless as I’m a recipient of the generous grant of the refugee program. I’m ashamed to learn how some people have the guts to bite the very hand that someday pulled them out of their miseries… Just ashamed to even write about it. I was very close to being wasted, my family and kids then that program “Resettlement” pulled me to where I started fresh. No matter what version of Islam or other religion I’m practicing now, but harming the very country that accepted me and gave me the chance to make it up to this comments, should never be part of my thinking.
I’m in line with others to defend our democracy which I believe to be the only reason for others to attack and form these type of terror plots, and as I always say, I have lost one home before, I can not afford to lose another one.

This article reads as if the suspects were already found guilty. 
I expect more balanced coverage from ProPublica.  Disappointing.

Today was Day One ..When they can shut down a whole city..everything..nothing moves except the authorities..
Watch the Bruce Willis movie, “Fort Bronx”..Read your early Nazi, Fascist history of the 20’s and 30’s..

Here is again Obama getting blamed “This is a disastrous defeat for a degenerate ‘Lib’ government “—the division between the American people is deplorable and so destructive…. and stupid.
The situation is tragic on many levels.  Right now there are Afghans that have translated for US GI’s for years and saved many US lives they are petrified to be left in Afghanistan as US pulls out—these people will be left behind because of this current tragedy.  Last time in Iraq it was Ted Kennedy who helped to rescue the Iraqui translators—while himself dying from brain tumor now who will do it?  We are living in so much violence—nobody is ever apologetic—the violence perpetuates worldwide- Syria for example.

My dream to see George Bush and Barack Obama shaking hands and saying they will resolve the torture crisis -obey all Geneva Conventions and they will tell their supporters to knock off the phony posturing, resolve the Gitmo stagnation and move out of Afghanistan with those who helped the GI’s even if risks are taken- do it- break the cycle of violence and call for compassion for mankind and atonement.


Deirdre Donovan

April 19, 2013, 10:13 p.m.

Thanks to Gudrun Scott for sharing your dream. As bad as we think the violence is now, it’s important to remember that we don’t live in the age of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, but in an age where a large part of the population of the world actually gets the possibility of peace on earth. Not real now, as we have seen up close and personal these last five days, but at least a possibility.

Deirdre Donovan

April 19, 2013, 10:16 p.m.

Thank you, also, Kirbikan, for expressing hour good heart b

I think that US attorney Carmen Oritiz and her handlers are behind the Boston bombing. Ortiz’s was being prepped for the governorship of MA, but that was falling apart with the Aaron Schwartz case, and her overly aggressive tactics against Schwartz who was a peaceful guy. Now she has a guy in custody for a deadly bombing and that guy has a physical resemblance to Aaron Schwartz. The corruption, conspiracies, and tyranny continues.

John W. Miller

April 20, 2013, 2:16 a.m.

The Chechen mafia also bombed the Moscow Metro and airport. Now Boston has a taste of Chechen terror, it will find as will Moscow, the bitter dregs of al-Qa’ida and Islamic Jihad.

There is so much wrong with the post preceding mine that I don’t even have the inclination to dissect it. Suffice it to say it’s complete hogwash

I’m glad they caught the TRAITOR. This great country gives him asylum from his former country and this is how he repays America? The entire of city of Boston shut down and sporting events cancelled and postponed. Bomber suspect also revealed his true feelings of America on his twitter a year ago.  This controversial tweet has not been published on any media outlet.  You can read more at:

You said nothing in your second comment that disproves Mike W’s conclusion re your first comment, Gea.

And as far as religious involvement in terrorism, trying researching “the Troubles” in Ireland.  You won’t find Islam mentioned, but you will find the “Protestant” and “Catholic” religions mentioned…to excess.  Or consider the situation in Israel, where hardcore Zionist elements among the Israelis consider persecuting the practitioners of Islam - to include seizing their land and property - to be justified by Judaism.

I conclude that none of the primary organized religions of the followers of Abraham - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - are religions of peace anymore…they are all used as weapons when their control falls into the hands of the greedy and/or sadistic.

(Although the individuals who use religion as a weapon are inevitably described as “dedicated” and “charismatic” rather than greedy and/or sadistic…at least by their followers.)

@ibsteve2u: Amen.

To all concern:
Re: The Boston Massacre:
The reason we have all these terrorists attacking us in the USA, is because of these bleeding heart liberals, whose only motives are to cow tail for votes and donations and to make a name for themselves, they have no idea that they are destroying the United States of America for future generations to come.
They are putting the American citizens at risk.
We need to stop sticking our noses in other countries business and focus and the problems in this country before we start dictating other countries way of life and policies.
All the terrorists that have attacked us are illegal immigrants or who have become illegal citizens of the USA and who really don’t give a damn about Americans or America, although not all illegal immigrants are bad people, the majority seems to be the ones who hate us.
We need to guarantee severe background checks on the present and newly arrived illegal immigrants to ensure that these people have no radical agendas.
From what the news media has stated that the Russian government tipped off the Federal Bureau of investigation and these warnings were unheeded, this cannot happen again in the near future, if everyone wasn’t so afraid of being branded a racist or a bigot, we would’ve been able to prevent the Boston Massacre and other terrorist attacks, if we don’t do something about changing our policies soon on how to deal with potential terrorists then the United States of America is truly doomed.
The government wants people who see something, to say something, but that also should apply to all governmental agencies, whether they are local, state and federal.
We really need to toughly investigate all present and newly arrived immigrants.
We also need to stop giving certain groups of people preferential treatment over others and stop rewarding people who break our laws, if you are not going to treat people equally, then don’t do it, no matter what color or religions.
These are my own personal beliefs and opinions and don’t reflex any others, but will give people a chance to think about what I’ve stated.
Thank You.
Paul Priore

When U.S. officials quickly assume the bomber brothers are part of an international Muslim threat, they reflect their own responsibility for what happened, and raise doubts about a government conspiracy.  Bombers might be justified if they react to the way the U.S. is choosing to destroy Muslim nations in the Middle East.  - G. Beres

NEW ANGLE:  The 26 year old brother who died in a fierce firefight with cops ( that is called suicide by cops) he was an excellent classical piano player and he was a skilled boxer. However, he got knocked out badly in 2009 fight and lately - this report about him describes he had a total personality change lately—

This personality change could be a headinjury from boxing and we also know they occur in football and amongst US Vets from combat.  I called the corroners office and alerted them to this report about the boxing etc and I urge them to do a precise autopsy of his brain.  They took note of this at the Medical Examiner Office—I feel good to have contributed whatever I could.

Gea, you need to differentiate between violent people and the millions of peaceful followers of Islam. Christianity has been the vehicle of hatefulness, violence and prejudice for centuries. Are you forgetting that?

Any religion can be used as an excuse for evil. The problem is within us and the excuses we invent to justify the worst in us.

Everyday Americans are quite sheltered from the carnage that for example these two brothers witnessed when they were growing up in the Chechnea that can only be described as a bloodbath.

It may be that Syria on TV daily is like a PTSS experience to these two young adults.  I am concerned about all the young children that are being exposed to such huge amount of violence all over the globe.

Again we in the US have no idea what that is like.

There is a branch of Islam that has been fostered in Palestine and that
honors martyrdom .  There are other fundamentalist religions not only Islam that feature martyrdom and that is not a confirmation of the joy of life but the opposite—make everybody miserable and scared and let them pay a lot of money to a leader who enjoys luxury.  Make them think that paradise is great and sacrifice themselves for a greater cause . This is not just an Islam idea.

After this tragedy I went to the local veterans hospital to visit a friend who was a patient there and I was so pleased to see a lot of eyecontact from everybody and greeting each other and holding the elevator door etc etc.

I have been to the nursing home locally regularly to visit others who are in there and frankly. the mood is not friendly, the staff looks the other way, the patients look miserable too often.

After 9-11 I visited NYC for the first time in a long time and the people on the streets bent over backwards being friendly and helpful - it was noticeable.  Lets do that again to all we encounter—who knows maybe it is a person who thinks that no American is their friend and you will prevent a person from going beserk—the butterfly effect—we have a lot more effect than we think we do.

Deirdre Donovan

April 22, 2013, 12:15 a.m.

Oh, how I wish some people who respond to news stories like this would be required to spend a semester in a critical thinking class and a year in religious (ALL religions) studies before being allowed to use a typewriter.

To say I should read the Q’uran to learn about the bloodthirstiness of Islam is equivalent to saying that I should read the Bible to learn about the bloodthirstiness of Christianity.  There’s enough bloodthirstiness to go around in all the major religions, and that’s the human condition. 

How about a little forgiveness in the narrative, instead of bloodthirstiness and revenge?  That might actually accomplish something.  Forgiveness, by the way, was one of the central tenets of Jesus’ Christianity, and a breakthrough in religion (at least, before Christianity got perverted into atrocities like the Spanish Inquisition).

Thanks, Gudrun, for your comment about the veterans’ hospital.  I work at the VA, and the model at my workplace is all about healing and recovery, so I’m happy to hear that it’s happening where you are, too.

Home grown?  How is a suspected terrorist “home grown” when he was born and mostly raised (half his life) in the most corrupt, terrorist-infested parts of the world?  How do we connect “home grown” to the tactics Chechnyans have been using against Russians for decades?

Deeper question, why would Vladimir Putin have offered his support so soon after the bombings (almost instantly), which leaders never do?

Rather than jumping to conclusions that Muslim-Americans are somehow naturally susceptible to radicalization, maybe we can prove that he was one of the bombers, that his motives somehow involved Islam, and that his radicalization occurred here.  Or, hey, let’s just condemn him and condemn society for not ratting him out as one of dem Ay-rabs.  That’s easier, and it gives the government wider powers.

After all, that’s what “home-grown terrorist” means.  It’s code for “we need more surveillance and intimidation of law-abiding Americans.”

You know who supports the narrative of a home-grown terrorist, by the way?  The Chechnyan president, who told his Instagram followers that the bombings absolutely had nothing to do with his office.  Seriously, the guy uses Instagram to issue policy statements, and his only statement on the topic is an unsolicited denial.

Deidre, thanks for your work at the VA—speaking of forgiving:

  This Thursday, the GW Bush library will be opened with all 5 living presidents attending.

I just called the White House comment line and suggested that President Obama first read and then present to the library the bipartisan report completed by 11 experts in the subject of torture

The 500 plus pages report went public April 15 2013 and the basic conclusion of this report is that torture is unethical and does not lead to credible information and is counterproductive.  That it will never again be the US policy to “go to the Dark Side”.  That we as a nation confirm our commitment to the Geneva Convention.  That we as a nation are celebrated in the world for NOT doing torture. Torture is an extreme form of violence and extreme form bullying and leads to no credible information but spreads violence and is habit forming.

The report came out this week on April 15 when the Boston Bombing took up the main media but the authors , solid Republicans like Asa Hutchinson and also Democrats like James Jones , Congressman and ambassador to Mexico have been interviewed on Democracy Now this week and those interviews are probably on their website and are podcasted.

Pro Propublica—you may wish to write about this report titled “The Constitution Project” and how it is received by the nation.

“spoke good English” Seriously?? smh…

I agree with you John, that someone cannot be described as “homegrown” in USA when he arrived here at age 12. 

That is the exact age when I arrived here—from a less chaotic country- West Germany. I am still in my heart a part European although I am a big patriot of USA—that is why I read Propublica nd comment here.  I cannot wait for another vacation in Europe and I do like it there too. 

My brother was 10 when he arrived here with me.  He is no longer living.  He had an unexplained mental breakdown when he was about 35 and he attacked my father- who was a very honorable and good person- and so for that matter was my brother. 

He had to be committed to a mental institution were he was kicked out after trying to set the mattress on fire.

He lived alone in San Fransisco and he was last seen wandering around at the boat harbor trying to help anybody who needed help - nobody needed help.  He took his boat out to sea and that was the last we know.

This happened on the week that his California Congressman was killed by Jim Jones and his followers in a camp in South America.  His Congressional office was in disarray and nobody could send the National Guard out to look for my brother—about 1979. He did own a gun and I believe he committed suicide on his boat but we will never know and I am glad he did not involve other people in his violent struggle that he was going thru.

I attribute some of his problems to culture shock.  When you are a young person and the family decides to move you and you have nothing to say about it, I think this can result in asking questions much later about your homeland , you affinity, whether you have friends or not and all that.  That is why I think that this Chechnya brother age 26 who was an accomplished classical pianist and a good boxer might have flipped out because he was turned down to not be part of the US Olympic team and US citizenship was denied which can happen to anybody- nobody has to get a citizenship automatically.  Of course I received my citizenship within my entire family after being in USA for 5 years—my father was a valuable scientist who worked on Boeing transport planes, however refused to work on any bombers—too many bombs in our life during WW2.

I learned one other lesson in my life from my boss when I was a director of college student health as an RN in 1992. My boss, a very respected and skilled doctor told me to watch out for atheletes who are unable to compete after an injury—they can become depressed.

How about the theory that this was a disgruntled athlete with possible brain damage from boxing who also had culture shock?

Just a thought—FBI—hope you include that among all your other theories and complexities.

I try to rationalize that he and his brother could not possibly be a jihadist after knowing so many inspiring and good people in and around Boston and their educational institutions and many inspired students, professors and the community there, there must have been painful memories from Chechnea -violence instigated by Joseph Stalin’s colonialization and violence has a way of ricoshaying and echoeling thru time.  That is one reason I wish USA would declare itself to be not a nation that tortures.  My homecountry under Hitler did this.  I have been ashamed of this thruout my life and do not wish it on USA which has an opportunity to get away from torture—by finally closing Guantanamo for starters.  US struggled with slavery and Native Americans but has not promoted colonialization and has overall in general stood for the equality of man and of women.

“;It’s like London, it’s like Madrid in the radicalization,’ the counterterror official said.”

Of course he would say that.  It’s his job and his livelihood to find terrorists under ever bed.  Without “terrorists” counterterror officials are out of a job.

This putz and his late brother, assuming that they are guilty, are nothing but simple (and simpleminded) criminals.  Treating them as if they are something more inimical and presenting an existential threat to the United States just dignifies their crimes and elevates them to a level of power over us which they do not deserve.

These clowns are “terrorist” in the same way that Charles Manson was a “terrorist.”  Oddly enough, we survived the Tate-LaBianca murders in the LA area without chucking the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into the dumpster and we can treat this clown in precisely the same way without the slightest bit of danger to the public.

They only are “terrorists” if we grant them the power to terrify.

Thank you, Steve, for being one of the handful of people who remember what terrorism is actually about and how this country used to successfully deal with bullies.

It’s also worth pointing out, with respect to the plans to sit on the Constitution for all these “terror suspects” (military tribunals, no right against self-incrimination, pre-classified statements, and so forth) is that people who insist on unfair advantages in a fight are walking in thinking they’ll fail.  If it’s OK to beat a confession out of Tsarnaev (which is basically what Washington is trying to imply by waiving his Miranda statement), then the government knows it doesn’t have the evidence to convict.

Gudrun, that’s a very useful perspective, and helps me clarify that I didn’t want to imply that there’s any problem with immigrants.  I work in software, where you’ll rarely see a “home-grown” coworker, and love it.

The only objection I might have is in painting the Chechnyans as a horribly-oppressed group.  It’s true that Stalin was hard on them, but all evidence I’ve seen is that they’ve never been particularly innocent.  My understanding (which I admit could be wrong—it’s not like I was there) is that they’ve painted themselves as terrorists/freedom fighters since the Ottomans ceded them to the Russian Empire in 1813.

That’s why the official reactions make me wonder.  Putin offered help as soon as the explosions were reported, making me think he suspects a link and is worried about his own backyard.  Then, when the identity of the bombers was revealed, Kadyrov made a point of an unsolicited statement that his government had nothing to do with the events and the kids were creeps because they were raised in the United States; as they say, don’t believe something until a government denies it…

gudrun quenzler scott

April 23, 2013, 12:36 p.m.

Comments are getting more interesting—

As I understand it they don’t want to Mirandize this person because they want to find out about: other plans, other bombs, other people without his lawyer telling him to plead the fifth and say nothing.  That is why they want him to talk openly using real interrogators under Obama not phony kinky people who are selling torture under Cheney , the chicken hawk - read the book “:The Dark Side” Jane Mayer 2008

the lawyers have already said they need no confession—they have enough proof: One eyewitness saw the face of the older brother as he sat down the backpack in front of him and this man got his legs blown off but he wanted immediately a pencil and paper to write down what he could and he will be an eye witness.

The Mansons of the world have the internet to broadcast now and find other idiots to join in.  It is a time when we need to teach about real ethics to everybody and it is not some kind of religion of any kind but ethics is sort of like logic and should not depend on who you pray for or even if you pray or not.  We need to learn about the importance of respect and compassion and why violence should be avoided and how to do that. I thought that Boston as a whole exhibited good solidary in a crisis- people pitched in and did what they could - good cooperation all the way around- good job on FBI and cops and the bystanders - well mostly - the boss had to stop the cops from from target practice on the boat….very good to catch this man alive.

Never a dull moment in this life is there—thanks for your personal support regarding my brother. There are people all around us that need support and you could be that butterfly effect that avoids somebody going nuts by being respectful, kind, funny and light while being a good listener and taking off some of the load from a person who is worried and suffering.  You never know.

Deirdre C. Donovan

April 23, 2013, 9:44 p.m.

“don’t believe something until a government denies it…”  That’s a good one.  I think I’ll find an evocative picture somewhere and post it on facebook…

Thanks, Gudrun, for espousing respect.  The events of the past several months (Aurora, Newtown, Boston) have inspired me to do some research, and, frankly, these guys are about as much “terrorists” as the kids at Columbine High were terrorists, or as Charles Manson was a terrorist, as Steve pointed out, above.

Reading about individual acts of violence perpetrated in the last 100 years makes me think, though, how most of the terrorists that fight in the “local conflicts” of the 21st century are actually just like these guys: teenaged boys with a whole lot of pain and testosterone to work off, and just the wrong combination of hero-objects to focus on, whether those objects are other killers or some twisted version of deity, or a semi-automatic weapon or two.

I pray for respect, for the voice of reason, for people who want to build legs for amputees, rather than new devices of torture.  I pray for educators who can give young people the inspiration to contribute rather than to kill.

Thanks to those of you who think with your cortexes rather than your amygdalae.

@Dierdre, who defined the perpetrators of mass homicides/“terrorism” as teenaged boys with a whole lot of pain and testosterone to work off, and just the wrong combination of hero-objects to focus on, whether those objects are other killers or some twisted version of deity, or a semi-automatic weapon or two.

I usually abbreviate that as “whackjobs” - which coincidentally avoids any physical age dependency that doesn’t/cannot account for those whackjobs who are also examples of arrested development.

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories