Note: Originally posted at 8:46 am ET; bumped to 10:10.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with Boston police earlier this morning, perhaps killed by bullets, his own IED, or the fact that his brother Dzhokar reportedly drove over him in order to plow through a police barricade after the shootout. He will live on in a photo essay taken when he competed in Golden Glove boxing, thanks to photographer Johannes Hirn, linked by an alert Dave Weigel a few minutes ago. The accompanying interview raised at least a yellow flag about the isolation of Tsarnaev from his community in the essay titled “Will Box for Passport”:
Tamerlan, who studies at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston and wants to become an engineer, took the semester off from school to train for the competition.
Tamerlan fled Chechnya with his family because of the conflict in the early 90s, and lived for years in Kazakhstan before getting to the United States as a refugee.
Originally from Chechnya, but living in the United States since five years, Tamerlan says: “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”
If he wins enough fights… Tamerlan says he could be selected for the US Olympic team and be naturalized American. Unless his native Chechnya becomes independent, Tamerlan says he would rather compete for the United States than for Russia.
Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: “God said no alcohol.” A muslim, he says: “There are no values anymore,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”
Accordingly, Weigel and others claim that this is Tsarnaev’s YouTube channel (which I already posted in the main thread). It’s not confirmed, and there may well be more than one Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but if it’s his, a certain theme emerges almost immediately. It’s odd that Tsarnaev wanted to compete for the US rather than Kazakhstan, perhaps, where he might have fit in better; if this really is his YouTube account, it’s even more odd.
Update: Some are claiming that this is Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Amazon wish list. I’d approach this with a grain of salt, but again if so, it’s certainly interesting. Quite a few items on making fake IDs, but they’ve all been on the list for almost six years. Not sure if I’m buying this.
Update: More from the AP on the background of both brothers, including this tidbit, emphasis mine:
In May of 2011, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, then a senior at a prestigious high school, was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge, Mass., to pursue higher education. Now, Tsarnaev is on the run, described as “armed and dangerous” and suspected of the Boston Marathon bombing. …
According to the website spotcrime.com, Tamerlan was arrested for domestic violence in July 2009, after assaulting his girlfriend.
He was an amateur boxer, listed as a competitor in a National Golden Gloves competition in 2009.
Assuming that boxing profile preceded the arrest, that might be an inflection point for Tamerlan’s radicalization.
Update: Reuters reports that the younger brother’s website promoted Islamist websites:
Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev posted links to Islamic websites and others calling for Chechen independence on what appears to be his page on a Russian language social networking site.
Abusive comments in Russian and English were flooding onto Tsarnaev’s page on VK, a Russian-language social media site, on Friday after he was identified as a suspect in the bombing of the Boston marathon. …
His “World view” is listed as “Islam” and his “Personal priority” is “career and money”.
He has posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles like “Salamworld, my religion is Islam” and “There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts”.
Update: Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer reports that Tamerlan was a fan of the “al-Qaeda prophecy”:
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26 year-old brother of the second Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, had a YouTube page where he posted religious videos, including a video of Feiz Mohammad, afundamentalist Australian Muslim preacher who rails against the evils of Harry Potter. Among those videos is one dedicated to the prophecy of the Black Banners of Khurasan which is embraced by Islamic extremists—particularly Al Qaeda. The videos posted on what appears to be Tsarnaev’s YouTube page may shed light on the motivations for the attack on the Boston Marathon. The prophecy states that an invincible army will come from the region of “Khurasan,” a large portion of territory in central Asia.
“This is a major hadith (reported saying of the prophet Muhammad) that jihadis use, it is essentially an end-time prophecy,” says Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy “This is definitely important in Al Qaeda’s ideology.” In The Black Banners, former FBI agent Ali Soufan’s book about his pursuit of Al Qaeda that is named after this prophecy, Soufan describes the prophecy this way:
Khurasan is a term for a historical region spanning northeastern and eastern Iran and parts of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and northwestern Pakistan. Because of the hadith, jihadists believe that this is the region from which they will inflict a major defeat against their enemies—in the Islamic version of Armageddon…
Jeff Dunetz has more.
Update: ABC has this video of the carjacked Mercedes being towed away, with a brief explanation of how the police “put two and two together” from Brian Ross:
And now the police want to find a gray Honda CRV with Massachusetts plate 316-ES9, believed to be heading toward Connecticut.