Did Tamerlan’s Mother Drag Her Son Back Into Islam?

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Tamerlan-Tsarnaev

The Wall Street Journal article, clearly based on interviews with family members, has to be taken with a sizable grain of salt, but it does provide a partial motive force for Tamerlan’s transformation into an Islamic terrorist. It might have happened anyway, but the impression we are given is that a mother feeling out of place in this country and afraid of losing her son to his American wife dragged him toward Islam.

The problem though is that the picture of Tamerlan as secular is contradicted by his wife’s early conversion to Islam and her donning the Hijab. Clearly Tamerlan was not all that secular. He may have trended more Islamist and was toward the end approaching Wahhabi territory, denouncing hypocrisy (again if you believe the mosque-goers who are looking to distance themselves from him) and spewing Kufir all over the place.

Once known as a quiet teenager who aspired to be a boxer, Tamerlan Tsarnaev delved deeply into religion in recent years at the urging of his mother, who feared he was slipping into a life of marijuana, girls and alcohol. Tamerlan quit drinking and smoking, gave up boxing because he thought it was in opposition to his religion, and began pushing the rest of his family to pursue stricter ways, his mother recalled.

“You know how Islam has changed me,” his mother, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in Makhachkala, Dagestan, says he told her.

Tamerlan persuaded his mother to cover herself up, which she says at one point distressed her husband, Anzor. “He said, ‘You are being crazy, covering yourselves,’” she recalled her husband saying. She said that she told him, “This is what Islamic men should want. This is what I am supposed to do.”

Here we already have a shift. The mother would like us to believe that she was the one driving him to be more Muslim, but it would seem that he was the one imposing Islamic law on his parents.

And what of his parents and his family background?

Back in the 1940s, Anzor Tsarnaev’s parents were deported to Kyrgyzstan from their native Chechnya after Josef Stalin’s regime accused the Caucasian Muslim ethnic group of being Nazi collaborators.

The accusation was factual. The Chechens did collaborate with the Nazis.

Anzor was born and raised in Tokmok, a city not far from the capital of Bishkek. He was one of 10 siblings, many of whom went on to become lawyers.

That last datum is less indicative of enterprise and more of the family’s status. The Tsarnaevs clearly had it.

According to his sister, Anzor was fired from his job in Bishkek shortly after war broke out in Chechnya in 1999, the second time the Kremlin tried to quell a separatist insurgency there since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He started working as a mechanic. “He had to feed his family,” his sister said, suggesting that he was fired due to discrimination against Chechens that accompanied the war. “He fled only because of this persecution,” she said.

It’s possible that Anzor was fired for purely ethnic reasons, but it’s more likely that he was involved in some form of Chechen activism. His son’s first name, so different from those of the rest of the family, is revealing. It may have even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Mary Sue

    Not surprising if there is a grain of truth to this. She may be fudging the timeline to shine a better light on her son…

  • AG

    She may have pushed him towards it, but it seems took it a lot further.

  • Michael Copeland

    “He was slipping into a life of marijuana”.
    Tamerlan Tsarnaev said he had only one American friend, but parted company with him, and apparently did not speak much of him. This friend and two others were found murdered in an apartment, in a still unsolved case.

    The date of the murder is a significant one for muslims, 9/11, the year 2011. Their throats had been cut, a traditional Islamic slaughter procedure, and their bodies sprinkled with marijuana, a drug prohibited by Sharia. The police at the time said “It does look like the assailants and the decedents did know each other.” A Mercedes was removed from the scene for investigation (www.businessinsider.com).

    How do you slit three men’s throats, one after another, without some self-defence from the other two? Were they all stoned out of their minds?

    Tsarnaev, we are told, became more hardline Islamic, more religious. He gave up alcohol and tobacco, and expressed disapproval of drugs (such as, presumably, marijuana). He was uncommunicative about the friend he no longer had, and was touchy, given to bursts of rage, such as the one for which he was asked to leave the mosque. He was violent towards his wife, and “it would seem that he was the one imposing Islamic law on his parents”.

    With the Obama regime’s removal of all matters Islamic from the Homeland Security Handbooks, and presumably police training material, are there some Islamic clues here which police have been deprived of knowing?

  • lol

    how sad that one must zoom from one extreme (marijuana/alcohol) to another (killing women and children).
    why couldn't he just marry someone nice and get a job like the rest of us and save $$ to go somewhere warm and pretty once a year. In other words, this guy was a typical egomaniac, narcissistic murderer who felt a connection with his "high" status ancestry!!

    • Cat K

      No, he became what he already was….a typical Muslim. Psychiatric diagnoses areventirely unnecessary

  • Michael Copeland

    The three men murdered by having their throats slit, or being “stabbed in the neck”, were Jewish, according to Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs, one of them devoutly so. For muslims, “Killing Jews is a form of worship which brings us closer to Allah”.
    Here is another thread in this unsolved murder that may link it to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a devoutly observant muslim, following orthodox Islam.