Clues from Tamerlan's Amazon Wish List: A Look into the Brothers' World

While some on the Left speculated that the Boston bombing was the work of right-wing domestic groups, we now know that the two brothers who planted the bomb -- the now deceased older brother Tamerlan Tzarnaev, and his younger sibling Dzhokhar -- considered themselves to be religious Islamists as well as defenders of the Chechen cause.

On Dzhokhar’s Russian Facebook page, a drawing of a bomb has the heading “send a gift,” and on his sibling Tamerlan’s You Tube page, as Robert  Spencer points out, are “two videos by Sheikh Feiz Mohammed. According to a report published in The Australian in January 2007, in a video that came to the attention of authorities at the time, Mohammed ‘urges Muslims to kill the enemies of Islam and praises martyrs with a violent interpretation of jihad.’”

Now, Tamerlan’s Amazon wish list, that goes only to the year 2007, reveals his evolving interests. Since we know already that he acknowledged he had no friends and did not understand Americans, it is interesting to find that near the top of the list is Dale Carnegie’s old classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book which if he ever read he certainly did not take to heart.

In addition to an interest in music and voice, there is a clear interest in the Mafia, organized crime, the fall of Rome, the rule of the Ceasars, and, most significantly, the following titles: How To Make Driver’s Licenses and other ID on your Home Computer; The I.D. Forger: Homemade Birth certificates and other Documents Explained;  Secrets of a Back Alley ID Man; Face ID Construction Techniques of the Underground: Principles of Fraud Examination; Document Fraud Examination; and one titled  Document Fraud and Other Crimes of Deception. I would have expected to find the left-wing's old classic, The Anarchist Cookbook, but evidently he did not know of this title.

Then we have his books about the Chechen cause, including Chechen Dictionary and Phrasebook; The Lone Wolfe and the Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russia Rule, and the most revealing of all, Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnyawhich, as the author’s introduction indicates, considers what others view as terrorism to be “resistance” of the oppressed Chechens to Russian power.

As Charles Krauthammer argues today, the term President Obama used to describe such actions, “violent extremism,” means little. So does terrorism, unless one acknowledges that the tactic is used to make a political point. So it appears that the religious view of Islam held by the brothers is that of radical Islam, and if this turns out to be obvious, as current clues indicate, then one has to be clear, and attribute their actions to a belief in jihad, even if their actions were not coordinated by an al-Qaeda cell and were undertaken on their own.

Identifying the motivation of our enemies is but a first necessary step to eventually stopping them before more carnage occurs.