Tsarnaev's 6 Months in Dagestan Are an Enigma
No sign of extremist in the making: family
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2013 8:03 AM CDT
In this Feb. 17, 2010, photo, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, left, accepts the trophy for winning the 2010 New England Golden Gloves Championship from Dr. Joseph Downes, right, in Lowell, Mass.    (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun, Julia Malakie)

(Newser) – When Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Dagestan for six months, a period of time the FBI is scrutinizing in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, he didn't seem like an extremist looking for guidance. Rather, according to people who spent time with him there, he seemed like a young man struggling to find his way, the New York Times reports. He slept in, spent time with family and at home, and helped his father with a store he was renovating. He told his aunt, "The people here are completely different. They pray different," and said that he was happy to be able to hear the call to prayer "from all sides." “What, you can’t hear the mosques there in America?” she asked. "Something like that," he replied.

By then, Tsarnaev had already turned to a more hardline version of Islam, giving up alcohol, praying five times a day, and growing a beard. But the picture painted by friends, family members, and neighbors includes some inconsistencies—why, for example, would he sleep late instead of going to morning prayers? How could he pray five times a day if, as one family friend recalls, "he didn't go anywhere" and spent all his time helping his father? One thing is certain, notes the Times: His time in Dagestan, where he had also lived for much of his teenage years, was marked by violence. Islamic insurgents are active in the region, and there were an average of two or three fatal bombings each month he was there. But the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate, a terrorist group in the area, denies that Tsarnaev joined up. "[We] are not fighting against the United States of America," the group says in a statement. “We are at war with Russia."

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Apr 23, 2013 3:23 AM CDT
"By then, Tsarnaev had already turned to a more hardline version of Islam, giving up alcohol, praying five times a day, and growing a beard." I fail to see how any of those can be considered a "hardline version" of Islam.
Apr 22, 2013 12:51 PM CDT
To the author of this story- I thought Newser's goal was to summarize other stories. In this article, you pointed out "inconsistencies" which were not reported in the NY Times article. The original article noted the contrast between sleeping late and early morning prayers as a tension in this man's life along with other tensions. It is asking what role conflicts between opposing desires or beliefs might have had in molding his behavior change. The tension between wanting to sleep late and observe early morning prays was not cited to undermine the accuracy of the reports by his family members. You seem to be interjecting your own options, not summarizing. Further I question why Newser has someone giving an opinion about religious devotedness who knows so little about Islam. When the call to prayer is given, observant Muslims stop, unroll their prayer rugs, face Mecca and pray, along with anyone else around who is also observant. Praying does not require that one leave the family activities and go to a place of worship.
Apr 22, 2013 9:33 AM CDT
He should have stayed