A man known as “Misha,” who is suspected of being the person who radicalized Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has apparently been identified by the FBI. Misha, a red-bearded, 30ish Armenian-American Christian who had converted to Islam, apparently became the Rasputin-like figure who spent hours indoctrinating Tsarnaev, once even visiting the family home.
Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsami said: “It started in 2009. And it started right there, in Cambridge. This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely.” After being swayed by Misha, Tsarnaev stopped his plans to attend music school saying Islam frowned on music, and gave up boxing. He began frequenting jihadist websites and looking for extremist propaganda, and reading al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. He sought out a copy of the infamous anti-semitic hoax “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which claims that Jews want to take over the world.
Elmirza Khozhugov, 26, the ex-husband of Tamerlan’s sister, Ailina, said the Tsarnaevs were not at the mosque frequently until 2008 or 2009, when Tamerlan Tsarnaev met Misha. Khozhugov recalled the visit Misha made to the family home, where he stayed for hours:
Misha was telling him what is Islam, what is good in Islam, what is bad in Islam. This is the best religion and that’s it. Mohammed said this and Mohammed said that. It was late, like midnight. His father comes in and says, ‘Why is Misha here so late and still in our house?” He asked it politely. Tamerlan was so much into the conversation he didn’t listen.
Khozhugov said Tamerlan’s mother, Zubeidat, said:
“Don’t interrupt them. They’re talking about religion and good things. Misha is teaching him to be good and nice.” When Misha would start talking, Tamerlan would stop talking and listen. It upset his father because Tamerlan wouldn’t listen to him as much. He would listen to this guy from the mosque who was preaching to him.
Khozhugov added that Tamerlan did not know much about Islam, and wht he did know he got from sources online or from Misha: ‘Misha was important, Tamerlan was searching for something. He was searching for something out there.”
But Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, denied Misha was a factor, saying, “Nonsense. He was just a friend.” She continued that Misha was well-versed in Islam but wasn’t extreme. She stated that Misha’s contact with the Tsarnaevs was brief and he had moved elsewhere in the U.S. but she wouldn’t say where.