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Boston Bombing Suspect Exhibited Extremism at Local Mosque

Boston Bombing Suspect Showed Extremism at Local Mosque
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Two ethnic Chechen brothers, suspected of the double bombings at the Boston marathon, attended a mosque in Cambridge Massachusetts. The bombs killed three and injured more than 170. The older brother, now deceased, is accused of being argumentative about his religion, critical of those who weren’t conservative Muslims.

The two bombing suspects are seen in the background of many pictures taken by spectators. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who wore a white baseball cap on the day of the bombing, is recovering at a Boston hospital after gunbattles with police. He faces the death penalty if convicted on a federal charge of using a weapon of mass destruction. His older brother, Tamerlan, who wore a black hat, was killed by police four days after the bombings.

Tamerlan attended Friday prayers and occasionally daily prayers at a mosque in Cambridge, outside of Boston. Mosque officials say that twice, he created a scene, arguing with the preachers - once about observing Thanksgiving and the U.S. Independence Day. But the more recent episode involved Martin Luther King Jr.

“The person who was delivering the sermon, he made a sort of a parallel between how Martin Luther King had inspired people just like our Prophet Muhammad had inspired people, and he [Tamerlan] seemed to have been offended by that. He stood up and objected to it,” recalled Anwar Kazmi, a mosque board member.

Mosque officials said Tamerlan called the preacher a "non believer" who was "contaminating people's minds." The Congregation shouted back to him to leave and he did.

A YouTube page, purported to be Tamerlan’s, has videos that allegedly promote jihad, or holy war.

Both men lived in the Republic of Dagestan in Russia before coming to the United States. Their parents still have houses there. U.S. officials say Tamerlan visited Dagestan last year.

The area is the focus of militants who want to establish an Islamist state, so residents are accustomed to daily violence.

"There're always blasts, always criminals here," explained Galia Sulemanan, who lives near the suspect’s father. "I only know them [the Tsarnaevs] as good neighbors, I don't know anything else."

Anvor, a Muslim activist, said he doesn’t understand why the brothers did not explode a bomb in their wartorn homeland, rather than at the Boston Marathon.

"There's no justification neither in Islam, nor in radical Islam, or Sufism, or even in Shia Islam to the thing that happened in Boston. There's no justification," Anvor said.

Others sid the United States needs to switch tactics to prevent future attacks.

“We need to focus on the ideology and less on tactics," said Ryan Mauro, a member of a group that promotes tolerance and challenges radical Islam. "And until we combat the ideology itself, the current trend of Islamic terrorism around the world is going to increase.”

U.S. officials are still trying to determine if the Tsarnaev brothers acted alone or had support and training elsewhere.
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    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy, Silver World Medal, AP Broadcaster’s Best of Show, and Clarion award-winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous TV, Radio, Multimedia, and Digital awards for her TV/Web coverage of Muslim Portraits, The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.  Presutti was VOA’s Nathanson Scholar to the Aspen Institute and VOA’s delegate to the U.S. government’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP).

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