Did Big Brother Corrupt His Younger Sibling?

It's a common refrain in stories about the Tsarnaev brothers

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2013 9:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – As the speculation continues into what turned the Tsarnaev brothers into alleged terrorists, a common theme is emerging in stories about Tamerlan, 26, and Dzhokhar, 19. As the Boston Globe puts it:

  • A "picture began to emerge Friday of Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggres­sive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ­ensnared his younger brother—described almost universally as smart and sweet — into an act of terror.
The New York Times has a story with a similar tack, headlined "Boy at Home in U.S., Swayed by One Who Wasn't," that plays off this paragraph:
  • "The older one, who friends and family members said exerted a strong influence on his younger sibling—'He could manipulate him,' an uncle said—once told a photographer, 'I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.'"

In its profile of the brothers, CNN writes that Dzhokhar started going to the gym at age 10 to be with his boxer brother: "Dzhokar followed Tamerlan around like a puppy. He'd be just behind him, doing calisthenics." One reason why all this might matter: If Dzhokhar's defense team makes the case that it was Tamerlan who was the driving force behind the plot, it could mean the difference between life and death for him. "If he says my intent was to please my brother, they could raise the question of federal jurisdiction," says attorney Alan Dershowitz in a separate CNN story. If the case remains under state jurisdiction as a result, Dzhokhar would escape the death penalty, which isn't in place in Massachusetts.

This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.   (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)
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