Published — Tuesday 23 April 2013
Last update 23 April 2013 4:38 am
The 19-year-old alleged Boston bomber, currently in hospital, unable to speak due to a bullet that penetrated his throat, is an enigma. US authorities appear certain that he dropped his rucksack containing an explosive pressure cooker designed to kill and injure marathon runners and spectators, even though US law is founded on “innocent until proven guilty.” US officials say he is a terrorist who was out to wreak vengeance against the United States of America. When arrested he was not read the usual Miranda rights warning, advising suspects of the right to silence until they have the services of a lawyer. And at least four Republican senators are urging President Obama to classify Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an American citizen, as an “enemy combatant” which would deprive him of legal advice, rob him of his day in a civilian court and render him to the judgment of a military tribunal.
Apart from the illegality of describing an American national as “an enemy combatant,” a categorization that the Obama administration’s attorney-general has slammed in the past as being contrary to US values, even a casual scrutiny of the young man’s history indicates that nothing he has ever done or said fits the bill of a rampant religious/political extremist who considers the end justifies the means, even when those means involve the murder of innocent children.
Indeed, the alleged co-perpetrator of this heinous crime doesn’t fit any known terrorist profile or even that of a criminal sociopath. To a man (and woman), everyone who ever crossed his path describe the younger Tsarnaev as a normal American college student who took full advantage of the typical American lifestyle. Unlike disturbed loners, usually failures whose embrace of the dark side led them to shoot school children, teachers or cinemagoers, Dzhokhar (pronounced Ja-Har) was sociable impressing acquaintances with offers of help. In fact, he was a member of a buddy organization tasked with helping children afflicted with Down’s Syndrome, which shows he wasn’t devoid of compassion.
His neighbors describe him as “a sweet kid.” His teachers say he was well adjusted and never caused any trouble. His closest friends admit they’re in shock because he never showed any serious interest in either politics or religion and was, generally, a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who had a smile for everyone. A young lady who graduated with him said he was “a scholar athlete” who “acted as a lifeguard,” “a designated driver to his friends,” and “a compassionate human being.”
He loved all sports, especially football and wrestling and was captain of a wrestling team and a Greater Boston League all-star. The assistant wrestling coach at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Peter Payack, described him as “a dedicated kid,” adding “all the kids loved him.” “We only name captains who are good, but who also gain respect from his fellow wrestlers. He had to be a leader and he had all those qualities. He was one of my guys.” He was also academically bright, smart enough to secure a $ 2,500 scholarship from the City of Cambridge a few years ago — and as can be seen from one of his social media pages, his ambitions were career and money.
Dzhokhar’s parents have naturally defended their sons. His mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva is adamant that the charges against them are 100 percent part of a “set-up.” “My two sons are really innocent and I know that neither has never ever talked about whatever they’re saying about now,” she said. She said they used to call her every day, saying “Mama, we love you…we miss you,” so “it’s impossible, impossible for both of them to do such things…I am really, really, really, really telling that this is a set-up.” Their father Anzor Tsarnaev concurs. “This is all lies,” he told the media. “These are my children, I know my children.” An uncle who viciously tore at the alleged culprits immediately after their identities were published, saying they brought shame on the family and all Chechens, has seemingly had a tearful change of heart with “I love you and forgive me.”
The biggest mystery is why someone who was liked and admired by all and had everything to live for would go from Mr. Hyde to Mr. Jekyll overnight. It’s true that as someone who had been brought up in the US from a young age he did communicate with Dr. Brian Williams, a local professor in an attempt to understand his Chechen roots and the background to the Chechen wars. It’s understandable that he would be curious about his antecedents and inclined to empathize with the suffering of his forefathers but even if he felt passionately about the Chechen battles for independence, that goes no way to explaining why he should seek to kill Americans when the US lent its support to Chechen rebels on occasion and the prime enemy of Chechen separatists is Moscow; certainly not Boston.
The other mystery is why the brothers didn’t attempt to flee subsequent to the crime. It wasn’t as though they didn’t have anywhere to go; they could have rejoined their parents in Dagestan, for instance, without incurring undue suspicion during the bombing’s immediate aftermath. What’s even more startling is that Dzhokhar by all accounts carried on as usual, sleeping in his dorm, attending a party with friends, chauffeuring one to a football game and sharing a pizza with others. Those who saw him in before he became a wanted man, say he was relaxed and behaved as always. One disclosed that Dzhokhar was saddened by the incident, which he referred to as “a tragedy.” If he’s guilty, then his acting abilities put even Hollywood’s finest to shame.
Unless this seeming paragon of virtue recovers from his injuries sufficiently to be questioned as to his motives and unless he receives a transparent trial, conspiracy theorists will have a field day.