Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26 year old Chechen immigrant better known as Suspect # 1, who died in a hail of bullets early this morning, was a quiet guy who apparently, according to the few people who knew him, just didn’t fit in to American society and American life. He confided to one of his few acquaintances that Americans were different; he was heard to say once – ” I don’t understand them.”
Tamerlan’s younger brother, Dzhokhar, was described by friends as generous and easy to get along with. ” Normal” was a word often used to describe Suspect # 2. Dzhokhar was on the wrestling team at Cambridge Ringe and Latin High School and was a student at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Nothing out of the ordinary, no warning signs, no telltale jihadist tendencies.
But I have a pretty good hunch that when the police comb through the laptop and cell phones of these two terrorists they will find bookmarks for radical Islamist clerics or al Qaeda websites, perhaps pirated DVD’s that preach fanatical hatred of the West. Probably in the dark of night at home these two brothers were building up their anger and their courage.
Chechen rebels have been fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and have shown up in Iraq and Syria as well. The Chechens have engaged in a decades long battle with the Russians, who beat them into submission with overwhelming force. But Russian force has not stopped terrorists from attacking Moscow, and even a grade school where hundreds of children died.
These two men who seemed on the surface to be fitting in to American society, their dastardly acts signal that they were leading a double life and using their outwardly American lifestyle as a cover for their terrorist plans.
In hindsight, the fact that Tamerlan Tsarnaev said that he didn’t “understand” Americans was a kind of tip-off that beneath the surface something was askew, and the fact that Dzhokhar was friendly but had few friends begins to a put together the profile of two lone wolf terrorists -quiet, alienated, secretive, out of place, and most of a cauldron of anger in their dark souls.