Mystery Radical 'Took Tsarnaev's Brain': Family

Relatives say 'Misha' turned elder son into militant

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 24, 2013 4:50 AM CDT | Updated Apr 24, 2013 7:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – Surviving Boston bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev blames his older brother Tamerlan for the attack—and relatives blame a mysterious cleric known as Misha for Tamerlan's radicalization. The elder Tsarnaev first met the man, an Armenian convert to Islam in his 30s, around six years ago; under his influence, he quit boxing, became fiercely opposed to US foreign policy, and became obsessed with conspiracy theories about 9/11 and about Jews controlling the world. "Somehow, he just took his brain," Tsarnaev's uncle tells the AP, which has been unable to track Misha down.

Misha—who claimed to be an exorcist, according to the Daily Mail—spent many hours in the family's home with Tamerlan, talking to him about religion, his sister's ex-husband says. "Misha was telling him what is Islam, what is good in Islam, what is bad in Islam," he says. "This is the best religion and that's it. Mohammed said this and Mohammed said that." Relatives say the suspect's mother encouraged the relationship, deepening the family rift over Tamerlan's embrace of hardline Islam. It's not clear whether investigators, who say extremist websites did much to radicalize the brothers, are searching for Misha.

In this Feb. 17, 2010, photo, Tamerlan Tsarnaev accepts the trophy for winning the 2010 New England Golden Gloves Championship.   (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun, Julia Malakie)
This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows bombing suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, center right in black hat.   (AP Photo/Bob Leonard)
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