The most comprehensive picture of the Tsarnaev clan so far comes not from any of the New York Times’ long-winded sympathetic pieces, but in a brief FOX News essay from one of the former customers of their mother.
The picture that Alyssa Kilzer sketches is a familiar one of a clustered and dysfunctional Third World family with a confused first generation and a violent second second generation. It’s as familiar in Europe as it is in the United States. The story is getting a lot of attention for the revelation that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, who described the crimes of her sons as a government conspiracy, also believed that September 11 was a government conspiracy.
That part makes a nice data point, but it’s not extraordinary. A sizable percentage, perhaps a majority of Muslims, think that. Even when they credit the terrorists, they assume that there was some complex interchange with the government going on. They’re going to assume the same thing about the crimes of the Tsarnaev clan.
Slightly more interesting is the background. Tamerlan is not that common of a name among Chechens. It has political overtones. And there is a mysterious footnote about their parents in the article.
“In my last year of college I was getting a facial from her, and asking her about why she had originally come to the United States with her family about eight or ten years previously.
She told me that she and her husband had been lawyers and political activists in Russia. They had fled the country after “something that her husband did.”
While Russia is far from a free country, the Tsarnaevs don’t exactly strike me as likely democracy activists. That leaves some other possibilities. The obvious ones are nationalist activism, which would explain the roots of this entire mess. The other is crime, which would also help explain where some of the money came from.
The Tsarnaevs were described as “intelligentsia”. That would fit the activist profile. They had unexplained sums of money. Despite supposedly fleeing the country, they were able to travel back there on occasion. That fits the criminal profile. Which of these it is only time will tell.
But it’s likely that the reason the Russians had a file on the son was because they had a file on the father. That is the way things often work in that part of the world.