On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that in the years leading up to the devastating bombing attack on the Boston Marathon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two bombing suspects, “fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert.” The mentor was known to Tamerlan’s family as “Misha,” and pushed Tamerlan to embrace the most extreme version of Islam. Tamerlan quickly dropped music, read information about 9/11 conspiracy theories, and bought into the notion that the Jews controlled world events, seeking out the anti-Semitic canard The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Misha reportedly met Tamerlan at a local mosque in Cambridge, then began discussing politics and religion with his young protégé. Witnesses describe Misha as “a slightly older, heavyset bald man with a long reddish beard.” Tamerlan began associating with him in 2008 or 2009. Reportedly, Tamerlan’s mother was pleased at Misha’s influence, although Tamerlan’s father disagreed.
Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said, “Somehow, he just took his brain.” Tamerlan, in turn, wielded a strong influence in the lives of his siblings, including younger brother Dzhokhar, who would go on to participate in the Marathon bombing. “I heard about nobody else but this convert,” Tsarni explained. “The seed for changing his views was planted right there in Cambridge.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).