Photograph: EliteDaily.com
Editors Note: This was inspired by an anonymous submission.

One of the many theories people have as to the reason Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev may have bombed the Boston Marathon has been the possibility of influence by his older brother, Tamerlan. Many of Jahar’s friends have had nothing negative to say about him, some even claiming he was not very religious. However, most sources close to Tamerlan say that in the past year, he has become more religious, some saying he was radicalized during his trip to Russia in 2012. Early this year, he was reportedly removed from a mosque which he attended for shouting at his Imam. The Imam stated that members of the mosque should look up to Martin Luther King, Jr., but Tamerlan disagreed because he was “not a Muslim”.

In two separate interviews, two of Jahar’s friends tell of how he was bothered by how religious his brother was. They say Tamerlan would “demand” them to study religious books and exercise, rather than play video games. Jahar would often avoid “hanging out” at his house for this reason. Despite this, however, these friends say Jahar looked up to and respected his older brother, more so after their parents left the U.S. to live in Russia.

In a video of the brothers working out at a local gym, it is seen that Jahar seems to be copying  Tamerlan’s actions. Everything Tamerlan does, Jahar also does. However, Tamerlan seems to be exercising the entire time, while Jahar is seen taking breaks. Jahar also seems confused at the fact that Tamerlan does not immediately remove his shoes when he is asked to do so. It is also shown in the surveillance videos at the marathon that Jahar seems to follow Tamerlan, staying by his side most of the time.

This is not an uncommon older-younger sibling relationship, however. Recent studies have determined that, when it comes to smoking, younger siblings are often more inclined to mimic the habits of their older siblings than they are to mimic their parents’ habits. While this study does not directly tie in with this story, it goes to show that nowadays, older siblings can be as, if not more, influential than parents.

Do you think older siblings have power over the decisions of their younger siblings? Do older siblings usually have a negative or positive influence? Do you believe Jahar was influenced by Tamerlan? If so, do you think it could help Jahar’s case if it goes to trial?

6/22/2013 12:56:22 am

First i'd like to comment on the video. Why do they have to make everything sound suspicious? going to a gym and training is a normal thing to do, especially when the 2 brothers are athletic. Jahar is not imitating his borther in the video, he's just warming up because he has to.

Older siblings can have a good or/and a bad influence, there's no specific answer to this question, everyone has a different experience with their siblings. i have 2 older siblings and they don't influence me at all. They live their lives, i live mine. it must be different for Jahar, maybe his brother was very close to him, but he also has common sense and i think that even if he loved his brother he wouldn't do such a thing just because Tamerlan told him to do so.

6/22/2013 03:42:51 am

To my mind, Uncle Ruslan spun this story that Tamerlan ‘influenced’ Jahar (negatively) in that reactionary press conference he held soon after the bombings. Now that it’s entered public consciousness – we can’t seem to shake it off.

In the matter of influence, their mother arguably had some power over or bond with Tamerlan since they both started praying religiously around the same time. What about the father? He wasn’t too keen on rituals according to Uncle Ruslan himself. Jahar could have taken after him or empathized with his worldview rather than his older brothers’. I think that is a common scenario with conflicting parents and parents on the verge of divorce. Siblings usually take opposing sides to keep the balance or mirror the balance they grew up with.

7/3/2013 09:30:54 am

Have you forgotten the parents had their own problems??

They divorced, the father got seriously ill. Thus the father kind of "failed" in the competition of chasing the American dream and left the rest of the family. You think a young, full-of-life son can identify well with his ill papa who leaves his ??
Definitively not.

Then, in two years time, the mother kind of fails too and follows the father.

I think it's obvious that the siblings just couldn't get emotionally tied to these kinda of parents - not in a positive way at least.
A healthy young person's mind works in that way where it tends to protect its omnipotent, positive way of seeing things, while blinding the negative ones that could weaken its youthful potency and power.

So the siblings instead searched for safety and success by bounding to each other and found some stability that way.
Note, that they were kinda lonely ones, the only ones left of their family, when the parents fled away and sisters moved far away and started their individual, separate lives.

It's all very logical to me, you just need to know life a bit more than 20 yrs.

6/22/2013 06:23:40 am

You can bet your bottom dollar that Judy Clarke is going to do everything in her power to portray Tamerlan as the mastermind and Jahar was just along for the ride. That boat note (if authentic) doesn't help her albeit it could be argued that it was written under a great amount of stress.

This sibling influence theory will likely save Jahar from execution.

6/22/2013 06:44:04 am

I agree with you. We will never actually learn the truth about a possible influence of Tamerlan over Jahar because this is what the lawyers will claim to save him from execution. However, I do not believe that this very applicable, because we know that Tamerlan turned religious and quit drinking. But Jahar didn't and he continued living a normal American teen life. Also, the cops haven't released anything about Jahar's laptop. Had he been radicalised and influenced by Tam , I'm sure that they would have found on his laptop islamist website visits!

6/22/2013 11:43:50 pm

Can I just say that 'Islamist' is not a word, it has no meaning, Islam is the religion they believe in, Muslims is what they are, I think the word you're looking for is extremist, you should try to refrain from using 'islamist' cause it just makes you look ignorant

6/23/2013 08:26:40 am

Actually N 'Islamist' is a proper word. The noun is Islamism and here is the dictionary definition: Islamic militancy or fundamentalism.. I'm not the ignorant one. I know my subject. I've been in uni for years

6/24/2013 03:05:02 am

@B - i personally find it offensive when 'islamism' is used as a synonym for extremism. extremist behaviour and killing in the name of religion has nothing to do with the religion itself. why shouldn't 'islamism' be used as a synonym for giving charity when that's one of the fundamental teachings of the religion?

hopefully, someday, it will be as much a social taboo to call terrorists 'islamists' as calling a black person 'nigger'.

6/24/2013 06:50:26 am

Guys, don't get me wrong. I didn't the use the word 'extremism' because this is not what I meant. I wanted to emphasise that the authorities not only they didn't find extremist websites on Jahar's laptop, but also they didn't even find any traces of islamist websites. This proves that not only he was not a Jihadist, but also that he was not even fundamental. This is the definition of the word 'islamism', which is very different from the word 'islamic'. You cannot compare it with the word 'nigger' because it is not an ethnic slur, but a legal term. Peace

7/2/2013 09:18:01 am

Well, by now we all know that the feds DID find that Jahar's laptop was used to visit and download information from jihadist and extremist websites. However, that doesnt mean that JAHAR did this. It merely means his laptop was used for it. Perhaps because Tamerlan's computer wasnt as proprietary? His wife may have had access to it as well as others in the home. A good attorney, which Jahar certainly has, will explore these possibilities. As far as I have heard, not one person that knew Jahar believes he was likely to committ these crimes. I have only heard positive comments and opinions about him. And this is from many many individuals, not just a few. Therefore, I firmly believe that Jahar was influenced by his older sibling. I also believe it became more pronounced after his parents left the country and went back home to Russia. At that point, the only family authoritative figure in Jahar's life was his older brother. He was transitioning into adulthood, from high school to college, and was at a very vulnerable stage in his life. He may not have been strong enough to divert from his brother's influence. I think what happened to him is very sad.

6/22/2013 08:22:23 am

I think Tamerlan was controlling. In a January twee, Jahar said he wanted to get back to school, because his brother wouldn't let him out of the house. Also, in the interview with the mechanic, he said Jahar was friendly when he came alone to the shop, but very quiet when he was with Tamerlan . I also thought Jahar looked uncomfortable over the shoe incident at the gym.
I know a 24 year old Muslim college student who lives here during the school year, but said when he goes back home he is expected to live in his father's house and follow his rules until he is married. So, was Jahar expected to obey his brother?Tamerlan was much bigger than Jahar, was he abusive? Obviously, we don't know the answers to these questions.
Jahar in his tweets comes across to me as intelligent and had common sense. So, it seems hard to believe that he could be brainwashed in such a short time, or bullied to commit such a despicable act. Also, if he were being bullied, why didn't he confide in his parents?
Accepting Jahar as a terrorist is the hardest thing for me to believe in this case. Maybe, I'm just naive, but so many friends and acquaintances have described him as a good person. How do you talk a good person into becoming murderer?
I think if needed, they will say Tamerlan forced him to do it.

6/22/2013 09:47:46 am

I think I agree with most comments here. It does depend on the family and again listening to Ruslan describing Tamerlan as the eldest nephew and also trying to persuade him about religion I do think he would influence his brother (in which direction remains proven). I had seen a reference to the tweets in Jan which definitely stood out to me. Also there really didn't seem to be much contact with the rest of the family. I definately think whatever the outcome like a lot of people with family situations Dzhokhar probably acted very different at home than outside of home. Another angle is the fact hat he embraced everything American could he be easily influenced, a people pleaser. People describe him as nice etc, maybe he felt powerful enough about the motive that's been put forward to go along with the plan. I still can't get passed him not covering his face compared to Tamerlan with hat and glasses and shaved beard. In most crimes with two perpetrators there is a leader and follower put forward. It's not that I can't believe that they could do this together and influence each other, it's more the lack of planning and waiting around that boggles me. But influence a younger brother when you're seen as powerful and knowledgable in the word of god, without other family members on hand to keep a balance, of course he could.

6/23/2013 02:11:42 am

I think what has to be taken into account is the cultural background of Dzhokhar. In his cultural background there is a strong sense of obedience to elders. His parents being gone, it was his brother he had to obey. Some seem to think that this is irrelevant because he was living in US, however even it stays there because it is taught right from childhood. I know for a fact, knowing a lot of muslim familly that even if you desagree, you still have to listen to your elders because the consequences of not doing so can be much worse than the rest.

6/23/2013 02:45:04 am

I do agree with the fact that his culture has to be taken into consideration but its got nothing to do with being muslim, muslims don't encourage violence so the fact that you said consequences are so much worse is not true, its the fact that disobeying elders is seen as being disrespectful and that you should listen to them cause sometimes they do know what's best for you but it seems like you're insinuating that if you're muslim and you disobey orders then consequences are worse but its not that, its depending on the family if the consequences are worse, not the religion, I'm sorry for ranting or whatever but I just wanted to clear that up

6/23/2013 05:00:49 am

Hold on, I just said obedience was very important... Never said that Tamerlan was guilty! I actually think that with all the deaths (Tamerlan, Todashev and Sunil Tipathi) that there is more to this affair than the official story.

6/23/2013 08:31:53 am

This is all right! Especially the Chechen people are particularly respectful towards their elders. They stand up when an elder steps into a room and they offer their seats.. I've known several Chechen people and I saw this many times.

7/3/2013 09:55:24 am

It seems many here lack a culture-historic perspective.

it was still only in the 1980s, when the only right way for the youngsters was to obey the elders' will and orders, was it in the USA, Europe East or West.

Countries / cultures in Caucasus have been "saved" from the commercial culture's bad influence - and thus saved their old traditions up until the times of ours.

But times have already changed, as we see. Young ones are preferring new and radical ideas than their own ancient culture and values.

This happens everywhere, just by little different means and ideologies, but the procedure and the total will be sadly the same - cultural fragmentation and the devastation of the ancient family- and local lifestyle (etc.) values.

6/23/2013 03:36:56 am

i personally don't think we should be pointing fingers at tamerlan when we haven't been presented with any proof of his involvement either. i really hope jahar's lawyers don't go down the route of pinning it all on the 'overbearing older brother'.

6/23/2013 08:23:29 am

Very little actual "evidence" if any has been presented to the public and it doesn't have to be. His lawyers have seen far more of the actual evidence than we have and will make the best defense based on that. The "overbearing older brother" scenario might very well be a viable defense, especially in terms of the death penalty, in this case.

6/23/2013 08:33:10 am

Preach S! Bless you!

6/23/2013 04:49:32 am

S-I think the majority of us on this website, believe in innocent until proven guilty. We were just responding to a hypothetical question. I for one have a totally open mind in regards to this case.

6/23/2013 05:43:14 am

I'm sorry but nobody has any business bringing up the name Sunil Tripathi. He was mentioned by people on the net who were desperate to put a name on a face on the evening of April 18th before anybody heard of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His only crime was a passing resemblance to the person then labeled as Suspect # 2. Now his name is only mentioned by desperate, naive fangirls hoping to piece together a half-baked conspiracy. This how the Internet becomes a tool for the hopelessly ignorant.

As a matter of fact I would like to suggest that for a topic. Ill leave it to We Are The Lion to put it nicely but ill be more blunt.

"How We All Became a Bunch Of Ignorant Do-Nothings. The Role Of Social Media In Shaping Our Perception of Criminal Defendants"

6/23/2013 06:39:18 am

Off topic apologies. The role of both media and social media in shaping our perception of criminal suspects would be a good topic, I'm ignoring the first part of your suggestion because that could more an answer to the topic.

Back to topic: it is clear to me from listening to a lot of information that respect of elders is important in some cultures in a way it has been lost in others. I'm the youngest in my family and I ruled the roost. But the family situation always influences people, it's the whole nurture versus nature debate.

6/23/2013 07:36:43 am

Nobody said that Sunnil Tipaathi had anything to do with the bombings (problem with reading?), I just said that it is strange that he was found dead. And as for the naive fan girl... Thanks, but I am well past that sell by date. And yes, you should study "The Role Of Social Media In Shaping Our Perception of Criminal Defendants" for some people, it is obiously relevant. If it is ignorant not to gubble up everything the media says, then yes, I admit proudly to be ignorant.And perhaps,you should also move out of your comfort zone and look for other possible truths so that you can at least look like someone who have studied this case under all its angles... Not just a replica of "the shaped peception of criminal defendants the media are conveying so well".
I was reading an article from Russ Baker today,it presents yet another angle, but it is not for you joker, it requires a rather long attention span...

6/23/2013 08:09:35 am

I personally think Sunil fits the "smiley face killer" scenario: young male college student goes missing and appears in the river months later...https://www.facebook.com/SmileyFaceKillers His story is also included on this website--http://footprintsattheriversedge.blogspot.com/

6/23/2013 12:43:46 pm

If Sunil has nothing to do with the bombings then why mention him at all? Personally I'm curious about what happened to Amelia Earhart. Why not discuss her? Certainly her disappearance is just as relevant as Sunil's story in regards to the Tsarmaev brothers.

Have you seen the videos of Sunils family begging him to return home? Do you know the story of his depression and disappearance? The pain his family felt when they were harassed by ignorant fools on a witchhunt?

We Are The Lion
6/23/2013 07:45:00 am

Let's all remain civil and stay on topic. Lots of good discussion points here, no need to take stabs at one another!

Thanks guys/gals!


Not saying they're guilty but hypothetically.
6/23/2013 08:28:44 am

So the media story is that Tamerlan who was jobless, couldn't advance in his boxing and egged on by his mother and some new convert to Islam turned to his religion in a radical way, shouting out at the mosque twice, arguing with his uncle, having a religious bushy beard, went to Russia to fight or Islam or chechnya but that didn't work out, so he planned to Bomb America on 4th of July but they were ready earlier so instead patriots day. He enlisted his docile, nice, pot smoking student brother.

Thing is the description of these brothers is the complete opposite to each other where Tamerlan was described as arrogant, Dzhokhar was unassuming. To say the motive was how the Muslims are mistreated in Iraq and Afghanistan would be more in keeping with the conscious kind brother than the arrogant flashy brother so maybe that's the key, one driven to prove a point that he exists and will be remembered for doing something and one who thinks people need to wake up to the mistreatment of others at he hands of America.

6/24/2013 02:57:38 am

i have a problem with the theory that their mother pushed them towards extremism. their mother urged them to become practicing muslims - what is wrong with that? i'm a practicing muslim myself but my mom still reminds me to pray on time, read the Quran regularly and to be more dedicated to islam in general. this is the same in every single muslim household where islam is practiced. this might seem strange to those who don't follow a religion, but for muslims, it's a way of life.

with regards to tamerlan's argument in the mosque - i see where he came from. the imam of the mosque mentioned martin luther king as a role model, but in most mosques across the world, this would not happen as the focus would be on muslim role models. perhaps to make the talk more relevant to america or to make an attempt to assimilate by mentioning a national icon, the imam used the example of MLK. but i know that i, and a lot of other muslims, would find it strange if our local imam made a similar reference.

lastly, he didn't go to russia to fight for chechnya but to get a new passport.

i know you mentioned that these are media stories, so i'm not directing this all at you, but i just wanted to address a few things that keep popping up time and again.

7/3/2013 10:32:03 am

The roots of the practicing the religion for Mrs. Tsarnaev lies in her Avar / Adjerbaizan / sunna islam background.

You*ll see she has quite totally a different cultural roots than her Chechen husband.
Chechen converted to islam very late, late 1800s and even 1900s. Also after that, they were not very into the practicing islam until Russia started its oppression towards Chechnya in early 1990s.

On the contrary, Mrs. Tsarnaev belongs to an ancient nomadic, and now very small ethnic group called Avar. They practice sunna muslim and they country of origin, Azerbaijan was under Russian, then Soviet Unions' rule for nearly 200 yrs. Due to that, many Avars fled to Dagestan, Chechnya or elsewhere, but wanted to keep their religion they've got from Turks in the Mid-Ages - maybe just to remain themselves they still are are precious human beings with a meaning and goal in their life.

6/23/2013 12:54:28 pm

I personally think Sunil fits the "smiley face killer"


I had no idea what this meant so I went to the site you mentioned

I'd normally say thanks for sharing but frankly I'm kind of freaked out. Lol. Thanks for scaring me?

6/23/2013 01:32:15 pm

Sorry about that! I'm tired of hearing Sunil's name connected to the bombings. I just thought I'd offer my personal thoughts about the situation.

6/23/2013 02:37:00 pm

As far as naming suspects go, I agree with Joker that Sunil Tripati was likely an Internet rumor and was named after the FBI released photos of suspects 1 & 2 (Tamerlan and Jahar). However, a day earlier the FBI named two Moroccan teenagers (Salah Eddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi) as suspects and the New York Post ran a cover on them. Then there was that Saudi student, Alharbi. Each time the feds used their influence over media to provoke public outrage until they gave us this story of the two Chechen brothers.

Maybe the FBI received a tipoff before the blasts or there were some other hallmarks of a terrorist act at the crime-scene. I can't imagine how else they predetermined this as an act of Islamic violence from the outset.

6/23/2013 02:56:44 pm

To be sure, I don't think the Moroccan teenagers were ever named by the FBI as suspects. In my understanding, they willingly decided to go talk to the police after hearing about the rumors on Reddit and the New York Post story ran the day after--http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/06/06/2-men-sue-New-York-Post-for-Bag-Men-Marathon-photograph/UPI-99171370542150/

6/23/2013 03:14:34 pm

The New York Post ran that story (Moroccan teens) as directed by the FBI. After Jahar was captured, Rupert Murdoch tweeted, "All NYPost pics were those distributed by the FBI and instantly withdrawn when they changed directions" ..

6/23/2013 03:27:21 pm

Of course he's saying that. He's being sued by these guys for defamation because they were wrongly identified as suspects when they weren't. It's damage control.Their pictures were posted on Reddit and suggested as the bombers by the users there.

6/23/2013 03:30:08 pm

He also lied in that same tweet--saying that the issue was instantly withdrawn which wasn't true.

6/23/2013 10:47:42 pm

The FBI had photos of their suspects on Wednesday afternoon. The description of the suspect that ended up being Jahar was leaked. On Wednesday night the Internet was buzzing with people scanning marathon photos looking for people with white hats wearing black jackets with a grey hoodie underneath. By late Wednesday evening the identities of the pair Moroccans was known, at least on Reddit. The NY Post with them on the cover came out on Thursday.

Rupert Murdoch is the biggest scum bucket in the business. His word is worthless. The funny thing is anybody that is the familiar the NY Post knows that its full of BS.

6/23/2013 03:59:46 pm

Sorry to keep posting, but I don't understand why some people point to a government conspiracy whenever there is a media inconsistency or a rumor started about a suspect on the Internet. I don't necessarily see how the government is involved. It's called irresponsible reporting, trying to be the first to get the story out/jumping the gun without all of the facts, and speculation by people on Reddit.

6/23/2013 11:23:53 pm

You hit the nail on the head. It's been very frustrating reading people claim innocence based on media inconsistencies. Then in the next breath they'll claim everybody else is blinded by the media. Huh?

It's a problem.

6/24/2013 07:13:37 am

It's innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent so there's nothing wrong with claiming that Dzhokhar is innocent, the media inconsistencies do portray him as being guilty but are then later on corrected so the false reporting is leading people to believe he's innocent, I'm in no way trying to say you're wrong btw cause you have made some valid points in comments you posted earlier. Also, may I just say that there are some turds out there that do believe in false information that is given out in media, for example, specific religions are portrayed as being evil, e.g Islam when really it's actually quite a peaceful religion so you can't really say that no-one is blinded by the media as there are ignorant people out there that'll believe anything they hear

6/24/2013 01:32:57 pm

It was the Mass State Police Commissioner that stated that the brothers had a cache of weapons on them including a machine gun (down to the model), other guns, and explosives. Due to eye witness insistence, that same commissioner had to report days later that in fact the brothers were found with only one handgun between them. It was the authorities that stated that Dzhokhar was lobbing explosives at them and shooting at them from the boat only to state later that he was unarmed. It was the authorities that questioned him while he lay near death in the hospital without given him Miranda Rights. The authorities shot hundreds of rounds into the homes of innocent people to catch an unarmed, teenage suspect that was already wounded. I could go on for several pages, but I think you get my point. Afterwards, at the press conference, law enforcement, Boston Mayor, Mass AJ, other policitians and authorities did not explain their bizarre, over-the-top, paramilitary style take down of this kid, instead they kept saying the same mantra: 'Now we have closure'. So... is that what all the fuss was about? To get closure? How could we not think the government is up to something. The words are coming out of their mouths. The media is just complicit.

7/2/2013 10:02:52 am

I couldnt agree more! The police were lauded for their takedown of this "extremely dangerous" suspect. In fact, they guy was not the least bit dangerous. He was seriously wounded and un-armed. I realize that the authorities could not have known this, but the contagious fire that they shot into that boat was incomprehensible! The fact that the kid is alive is a miracle. The same thing happened in California when the police were on the hunt for the alleged cop killer - Dorner a few months back. He was reportedly in a blue pick up truck. Cops were protecting the house of an LAPD officer who they felt could have been one of Dorner's targets, and they saw a blue pick up truck driving down the street very slowly early one morning. Before they even got close enough to confirm their target, they fired several rounds into the cab of the truck hitting both passengers. Turns out the passengers were two women delivering the morning newspapers on the street. Luckily, both survived, but not without serious injury. I know being a cop is a hard job, but we need to not applaud them for doing the wrong things. And the wrong things were done many times during this manhunt and capture in Boston.

6/24/2013 08:23:49 am

Fair enough although I would greatly prefer if people would just say "I BELIEVE Tsarnaev is innocent based on...." and then provide something that can be proved true.

If people believe he is guilty solely because of his religion then yes, they should be dismissed as ignorant


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