Boston, Massachusetts — The men identified as being the suspects in Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon have been identified as Chechen Muslims.
The city of Boston is now on lockdown after police and members of the FBI are involved in a manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, age 19, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, are suspected in setting off the blasts that killed three people and injured over 150 this week near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
After the FBI released video footage and photographs of the suspects last evening, they descended on the campus of MIT shortly after 10 p.m., where campus officer, Sean Collier, 26, was shot and killed. The brothers then hijacked an SUV, eventually releasing the driver without injury.
After 3:00 a.m., police responded to reports that the two were spotted in Watertown, where a shootout occurred. The Washington Post states that the men hurled explosives at the officers.
During the incident, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was fatally wounded by police. He was pronounced dead after arriving at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston. His teenage brother, Dzhokhar, fled the scene, resulting in a massive door-to-door manhut that is still underway.
Police were able to tie the men to the bombing after one of the victims of the attack helped to identify them. Jeff Bauman, 27, states that he was waiting for his girlfriend to cross the finish line when a man in a hooded sweatshirt dropped a backpack at his feet. Moments later, the bag exploded, ripping both of Bauman’s legs from his body.
“He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,'” a relative told reporters.
As word began to surface about the men being identified as the Boston bombing suspects, family members spoke out to express their disbelief. Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the two men, stated that his boys are “very nice kids,” but called out to his teenage son Dzhokhar to give himself up.
Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the suspects, told reporters that the family is Muslim, but said that it is a “fraud” and a “fake” to say that their Islamic religion was the motivation behind the attack. However, when asked by a reporter if he thinks that the brothers were radicalized while living in Chechnya, he replied, “If that happened, most likely. Somebody radicalized them, but it’s not my brother.”
A photographer who knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev characterized him as a very religious Muslim boxer. BuzzFeed has also located what it believes to be the YouTube page for Tamerlan, which has not yet been officially confirmed by police. The channel focuses heavily on Islam, with one of the playlists entitled “Terrorists.” Tsarnaev’s last activity was logged two months ago when he subscribed to the channel “Allah is the One.” Comments made by the individual identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev are in Russian.
“You accepted Shiism not because it convinced you, but because of your own … interests (of which only Allah knows), which you followed,” he wrote as a comment to a video entitled How I Accepted Islam and Became a Shiite. “As you walked into Islam, you also flew out of it. You let yourself down, Misha. Alright, goodbye.”
Peter Krause, a terrorism expert at Boston College, told The Huffington Post that Al Qaeda has members in Chechnya, which could have had an influence on the men.
“They are from Chechnya, but you could be American, Japanese, whatever, and it doesn’t mean what you do is based on your nationality. They could be committing this for personal reasons or political reasons,” he said. “It could be that these individuals are not affiliated with any organization or trained by them. They could be upset about their homeland, they could have thought of this as part of a larger assault against the west or Christianity by Islam — that is heard among Chechen terrorists sometimes. You’ve had Al Qaeda fighters train in Chechnya, and Al Qaeda has been looking for more European-looking individuals to blend into society.”
A manhunt remains underway for 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“We believe this man to be a terrorist,” advised Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people.”