Two Chechen brothers living in the US since 2002—Dzhokhar ( 19) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev ( 26), are suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon on April 15,2013, in which three persons were killed and over 150 injured.
2.The team led by the FBI, which has been investigating the blast, has been able to identify them reportedly through CCTV images of their placing bags, which probably contained the improvised explosive devices (IED), fabricated with a pressure cooker and a metal container, at two places near the finishing line where the explosions occurred.
3. Even though the FBI-led team haS not said so, tip-off from persons knowing the brothers also possibly contributed to the needle of suspicion pointing at the two brothers.
4.Tamerlan died following a shootout with the police on Thursday ( April 18) night. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, is still on the run in Boston. However, latest reports indicate that the police are “in engagement” with a person suspected to be Dzhokhar in the Watertown area.
5. From the accounts of the police search for him received so far, Dzhokhar has been making frantic efforts to evade capture by the police, who must be anxious to catch him alive to question him on what and who motivated him and Tamerlan to commit the bombing, if it is proved that they did it.
6.According to the profile of the Tsarnaev family carried by the BBC and the CNN, they were Chechens who had migrated to Kyrgyzstan and from there to Dagestan. They migrated to the US from Dagestan with Kyrgyz passports in 2002. The father, Anzor Tsarnaev, is since reported to have gone back to Dagestan.
7. According to the BBC, the brothers lived in the Massachusetts town of Cambridge, home of the prestigious Harvard University. Tamerlan studied engineering at Bunker Hill Community College just outside Boston but had taken the year off to train as a boxer. Dzhokhar is enrolled at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth to study medicine.
8. Russian news agency RIA Novosti has reported that “extremist material” was on the YouTube account belonging to Tamerlan. “Several albums were posted, one of them titled ‘terrorist’,” the agency said. However, the BBC says it has been unable to confirm the presence of extremist material on Tamerlan’s YouTube page.
9. Their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told Russia’s RT television network on April 19: “My youngest was raised from 8 years in America, my oldest he was really properly raised in our house,” she said. “Nobody talked about terrorism. Tamerlan got involved in religion five years ago. (He) started following his own religion, never told me he could be on side of jihad.”
10. According to some reports, the FBI had interviewed the father sometime ago to enquire why the two sons had started attending a local mosque for prayers. This would show that the two brothers were under watch by the FBI for some time before they carried out the bombing.
11. Details of their life in Boston available so far do not indicate any travels by them either within the US or outside. If they had developed any radical influences, it must have been through the Internet or during their visits to the local mosque for namaz. Particulars of the mosque to which they started going for namaz are not available. Who was the cleric in charge of it? Did he have any radical background? Why was the FBI worried about their going for namaz?
12. Dzhokhar was very proud of his Chechen ethnicity. It has been reported that whenever his friends referred to him as a Russian, he would correct them and say he is a Chechen.
13. If it is established that the two brothers carried out the Marathon bombing, what could have been their motive? They had no reasons to be angry against the US and its civil society. Their anger should have been against Russia.
14. Were they self-motivated to carry out the bombing or was their an external motivation due to US policies towards the Islamic world? It is not anger over the state of affairs in Chechnya and Dagestan, but anger over matters relating to Islam that seem to have motivated them.
15. Was there an Al Qaeda inspiration behind their action? Chechens had always formed an important component of Al Qaeda. Chechen instructors were employed in Al Qaeda’s training camps in the Waziristan area of Pakistan.
16. Under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the present chief of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda has turned the focus of its operations from the Af-Pak region to Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Somalia, Libya and Algeria. Did Al Qaeda propaganda against the US policies in Libya and Syria influence the brothers in their actions?
17. There are many questions without answers. To find the answers, it is important for the US authorities to catch Dzhokhar alive. (20-4-13)
(The writer, Mr B .Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter @SORBONNE75)