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Straight-Arrow Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a Mama's Boy

But behind the parents’ protestations that their boys couldn’t have been behind the Boston bombings, there are numerous indications that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were just carrying on the family business. It turns out that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been listed in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the government’s primary terrorist database -- although his inclusion on it was vivid indication of its utter uselessness, since nothing was being done to monitor his activities even as he amassed the material to construct the bombs he used in the Boston Marathon jihad attack and in the bombers’ subsequent attempts to elude police. Even more interesting was the fact that his mother was listed as well.

Russian authorities were so concerned about the Tsarnaevs that they began tapping their phones, and in 2011 caught Mama Tsarnaeva discussing jihad with Tamerlan, advising him to go to “Palestine” to wage his jihad there. Tamerlan didn’t take her advice; he didn’t speak Arabic and thus thought it might be hard to get by in Gaza. Ultimately, he opted to wage his jihad in Boston instead.

The Tsarnaevs appear to be a crime family on the order of the most violent mafia clans, but they were also (like the cinematic Corleones, at least as far as appearances were concerned) religiously devout. It has been widely reported that several years ago, Tamerlan Tsarnaev became much more of an observant Muslim than he had been previously: a family friend noticed the change and said, “He started talking about religion. He grew a long beard.” Tamerlan would hector him about his own religiosity: “Why don’t you become a better Muslim? Why don’t you pray, why don’t you do your Islamic duties?”