Boston Marathon Bombers | Why They Did It


it came as we all know on Boston's most

celebrated day the marathon a test of

emotion desire and a belief in oneself



bomb number one down the street twelve

seconds later bomb number two

stunned panic torn flesh broken life

these are among the images shown to

jurors at the trial of the surviving

Boston bomber

they underline the hell of that day

it's important to not look away but

brace yourself it's brutal and it gets



Universal and call for why why did this


bombs don't go off by themselves bombs

don't creep himself somebody had to

create them the natural question is why

just why did this happen

what is behind


jurors are deciding whether to our

server how did he become the person who

allowed himself to do this test now up

to a federal jury to decide the

appropriate punishment for Boston

Marathon bombers we have to vote on

whether or not you should get in Boston

this spring outside the Federal District

Courthouse two years after the bombings

and the trial of Dzhokhar tsarnaev has

ripped open old wounds at the heart of

it the relationship between the two

bombers the brothers and what drove them

to do what they did

it's the kind of stuff retired FBI agent

tom near knows best

he made his career studying the behavior

of terrorists meeting with them

clear-eyed face to face you think

they're gonna be monsters that they're

gonna die look or behave or have

something in their eyes that just says

I'm evil and I'm a monster and you have

met with people who are extremists and

terrorists yes

what are they like what was that what

was that like and in my experience of my

career is when you walk in and you'll

actually meet people who commit these

things they don't fit any of those

models rarely I'm not saying they're not

evil and I'm saying they're not

responsible for it or that I don't feel

somehow creepy being in their presence

but more often than not what you see

when you sit down with them is some of

the fragility that and some of the

personality that may be led or created

you know the events that led up to

whatever they did what they did

Johar and Tamerlan isn't disputed how

they became the Bombers is the question

how did they evolve who were they

in looking for answers it's important

say many to consider first where

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan tsarnaev come from

Kyrgyzstan Dagestan Chechnya their

family seemed always on the move within

that conflicted region forever seeking

something or some place better but as


forever branded by that time and place

journalist and author Masha Gessen

herself a Russian immigrant traveled to

the tsarnaev homeland hoping to get

closer to learn more firsthand what is

it about that part of the world that so

many people here don't really think

about post Chechen war that shaped these

boys the Chechen national identity is

shaped by this narrative of dislocation

and and deportation and that you know

the experience of having always been on

the outskirts always been marginalized

always being suspect always being

presumed an outlaw and being dislocated

never having a home all of those things

are really important to to what how

Chechens think of themselves on how they

experience life

so they up and moved seeking a better

place and a better life to an address

which before long would be seared into

the u.s. consciousness for 10 Norfolk

Street as with so many around the world

for the tsarnaev the dream of America

had proven irresistible it was here that

the tsarnaev landed in the early 2000s

Norfolk Street in Cambridge

Massachusetts in fact that's their place

they're a family that you know certainly

at the time seemed intent on fitting in

on on being a part of America the

country that had welcomed us

I think it's accurate when people

describe them as this kind of sort of

handsome family you know they had two

boys two girls this this attractive

couple they're immigrants to this

country they're trying to make it

Patricia when a journalist with the

Boston Globe newspaper has been covering

the tsarnaev and trying to understand

them up close since the day of the

bombings I think the parents they always

lived large and had huge dreams for

their children that were unrealistic

Tamerlan if he was going to be a boxer

he had to box for America in the

Olympics Johar if he goes to college he

has to go to Harvard everything had to

be the very best the very top and I

think it was very hard because they

didn't have the skills to live up to


this video seen in court during the

trial shows Tamerlan the boxer for him

the sport brought a kind of identity he

was good some wondered if he'd one day

box for his adopted country but a rule

change meant he'd not be allowed to do

that say some that stung and he was

again labeled an outsider he's just the

kind of guy who when he's mad he punches

someone he's physically aggressive he's

aggressive when he when things don't go

his way he tries to look for things on

the internet and he's gonna fight back

he's that his violent streak doesn't

surprise me as Tamerlan dream of boxing

glory faded he married and had a child

with no real job he dealt drugs for cash

self-pity and frustrations mounted

Johar's life on the other hand appeared

blessed or so it seemed

people would say he's charming he was a

social service sir he said wonderful

things but no one seemed to have ever

had a conversation with him of any depth

rolling and this is also this is like a

character that a lot of immigrants will

recognize a kid who finds his role and

his role is too narrow vaca chip

exactly what you want it's at around

this time the year before the bombings

that Tamerlan returns to Dagestan

Islam seemed a response to his stagnant

life and he soon sought out those with

extreme yearnings listen to this

conversation recorded in Dagestan its

Tamerlan considering the pros and cons

of jihad epic animo go to there is a

rage of hatred inside me he says some

believe Tamerlan became radicalized on

that trip others doubt that but it's

clear he was interested but it was like

great inspirational wonderful talk for

Tamerlan and the experience of belonging

and the experience of being accepted by

people and respected by people and

listen to my people was huge for him and

then he was forced to go back to the

United States where you know he was

wearing sweat pants and babysitting his

daughter while his wife went out to work

once he was back in his own isolation

and in Cambridge Massachusetts and that

was the final push

a stark contrast to the seemingly

perfect world back home of Johar this

was his high school a picture perfect

spot to embrace America and he did as a

popular student with lots of friends but

by the time he went to college outwardly

he was living large what emerged

particularly when he went to college

there was definitely a real risk-taking

side I mean he was a pretty big pot

dealer on campus you know we're talking

1,000 maybe $2,000 a week you know in in

revenue wanting to go to New York and be

around his wealthy friends from

Kazakhstan and fancy cars but meanwhile

he's failing in school his his his

grades are so bad that basically they

toward the end they weren't authorizing

his financial aid so he was getting

notices that you're like $20,000 in debt

and you know more and more he was

leading a somewhat dangerous life by

that time the brothers lives were indeed

in a spiral failure and desperation

mounted their parents had divorced and

moved overseas and once again the two

brothers hung out on Norfolk Street did

Tamerlan then radicalized Johar this

much is known in the months leading up

to marathon day Johar gave ominous hints

at darkness What did he say to his

friends I know how to make a bomb 911

was a conspiracy right little bits and

pieces that again in hindsight we say

aha well we would call that leakage and

leakage doesn't necessarily mean that

you're going to disclose your plan of

wanting to kill people or commit a

terrorist act

you can leak maybe small little pieces

in this case you're a political opinion

as offenders get older we'd send it to

you you tend to see less leakage in

people or if somebody feels that they're

justified in what they're doing or if

the cause itself is worthy then you may

not see it as much

just three days before the bombings

three days and to look at them that's

Tamerlan in the foreground Johar is back

on the ropes you'd hardly think they

were set to inflict such hell two

brothers at the gym in sync plans in

place bombs made there are all kinds of

people who disagree with American

foreign policy and there are all kinds

of people who have complicated family

backgrounds like everything that the

tsarnaev seemed to fit they're hardly

the only people not to me is the problem

with this how do you know I mean I think

that's an unanswerable question right

now you know there are people you can

find a set of brothers anywhere in the

world who have some of the same

background maybe struggles that this

Arab brothers had who become athletes or

become accomplished businesspeople so

you know what is it about them in

particular that drove them to commit

violent acts I mean it's a choice you

know terrorism is basically a choice

that you make when we come back marathon



to understand why the bombers struck

Boston that day is to back away from the

moment even if only slightly and

consider the Bombers themselves who they

were who they'd become

jahar when I see him walking with his

brother I think to myself at that point

he is all in

I think he's listening to those you know

chants that have been in his mp3 player

about what Allah wants him to do I think

he believes in it but he's in a plan the

part everybody knows never gets any

easier to watch

that's Johar and his cell phone he just

casually dropped a bomb behind an

eight-year-old boy Johar of course would

soon wander off and then


brothers we saw turn and ran


the sorrowful clinical ugly fallout

shown in court it seemed from every

bloodied angle


there was of course more video seen by

the jurors and in its own way it was

equally twisted 25 minutes after the

bombs and there's Johar at a Whole Foods

grocery browsing for milk

detached dispassionate cold-blooded he

pays for it leaves and then incredibly

returns to exchange it no doubt the

sirens downtown could be heard outside

all the while and from later in the week

consider this video the black SUV

carjacked tamerlan's inside with a gun

aimed at a kidnapped victim Johar gets

out strolls into the kiosk and picks out

some drinks and potato chips outside

their kidnap victim makes a run for it

to another gas station panicked and

desperately shouting for help and soon

enough Tamerlan tells Johar to get a

move on and they race off I will one

recorded language my holidays are here

emergency please repeat they have gone

where are they now you know here God's

taking police quickly connect the dots

and there's a chaotic chase through the

streets endings with that shootout on


that's the brothers crouched firing guns

throwing bombs soon

Tamerlan is killed Johar speeds off the

tsarnaev name is a global headline

terrorism is an imagined community

offers that experience that experien

offers instant belonging it offers a

shortcut to greatness and the leaders of

the free world will march down the

streets of Paris information in response

to something you did and you're no

longer nobody you're great if that was

the goal considered the only public

statement on all of this was a note from

Johar scrawled in that boat and shown at

his trial the bombings he wrote were

done in the name of Islam to protest us

killings of Muslims overseas sometimes I

wonder whether his decision to

eventually go along with this whole

thing and become radicalized it was

almost a kind of a like a version of

suicide it's sort of a I give up okay

I'll just this is this is another path

because Johar chose to not take the

stand and testify were left with only

these clues to what really happened with

those brothers what allowed them as

humans to do it and what stops the rest

of us from veering down what some call

the long crooked path that led those

brothers to that day a nuanced and

complicated path but one that delivered

their hate to the finish line

Paul hunter CBC News Boston