Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed during a manhunt last week, became increasingly confrontational about his Islamic beliefs in the past couple of years, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe.
In early 2011 Russia warned the FBI that Tamerlan was a “follower of radical Islam and a strong believer.”
Authorities have not found any connection between Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother Dzhokhar, 19, and outside Islamic terrorist groups. No motive has emerged for their alleged actions.
WSJ, drawing on interviews with family members and acquaintances, provides a detailed account of how Tsarnaev became a devout Muslim in the past few years at the urging of his mother.
“I told Tamerlan that we are Muslim, and we are not practicing our religion, and how can we call ourselves Muslims?” his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said in an interview with WSJ. “And that’s how Tamerlan started reading about Islam, and he started praying, and he got more and more and more into his religion.”
The transformation involved quitting drinking, smoking, throwing parties, and a promising boxing career because he felt they were in opposition to his religion.
“I’m telling you, something turned,” Luis Vasquez, a high school classmate of Tsarnaev, told WSJ. “And it was dramatic.”
He persuaded his mother — who “used to wear high heels and a low dress,” according to her sister-in-law — to dress conservatively and cover her face with a veil.
And as the mother and son studied more together, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva quit her job at a spa and started doing facials in her home because she didn’t want to work on men.
Tamerlan’s father said tensions over the newfound adherence to strict doctrine, along with his own health problems, made him “very depressed” before he moved back to Dagestan, Russia.
Officials and worshippers at local mosques told both WSJ and The Boston Globe of public confrontations initiated by Tamerlan in recent months.
Tamerlan angrily disrupted a January talk at the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass. when a speaker compared the Prophet Mohammed and the peace activist Martin Luther King Jr., a spokesman for the told The Globe.
In November Tsarnaev interrupted a talk when a speaker said it was fine for people to celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and July 4, in the same way you celebrate Mohammed’s birthday.
The spokesman told WSJ that Tamerlan “took offence to celebrating anything,” whether it was the Prophet’s birthday (which not all Muslims celebrate) or American holidays.
On Sunday the most feared terrorist group in their native Caucasus released a statement to dismiss speculation that Tsarnaev had joined them or that they were in any way behind the attacks.
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