Like many people last night my wife and I watched the live television coverage of the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two immigrant Chechen brothers suspected of being behind the bombs that killed three and maimed and injured so many more at the finish line of the Boston Marathon earlier this week:
The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing remained hospitalized with serious injuries this morning as the hunt for answers goes full tilt to discover why the alleged terrorists turned against a country they once embraced.
Police captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Friday night, ending a tense, five-day drama that gripped Massachusetts with fear and rekindled the specter of terror across the nation. He and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in an earlier gun battle with police, are Chechens who came to the U.S. and – for a time – seemed to want to succeed in America.
“I’m in complete shock,” said Rose Schutzberg, 19, who graduated high school with Dzhokhar and now attends Barnard College in New York. “He was a very studious person. He was really popular. He wrestled. People loved him.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was found about 8:45 p.m. holed up in a covered boat stored in the backyard of a Watertown, Mass., residence. He was led to an ambulance and driven to a hospital, where he is listed in serious condition.
Although at a thousand miles’ distance the evidence against the surviving brother looks pretty damning we don’t know whether he was, in fact, responsible for the bombs, whether he and his brother were the only ones involved in the attack, or, if they were those solely responsible, why they did it. The search for answers goes on.
For some that the two brothers were, evidently, devout Muslims is explanation enough. Or that they were ethnic Chechens and that Chechnya has been wracked by war, extremism, and terrorism for decades. The Wall Street Journal explains their actions this way:
But the patriarch of the family, a talented auto mechanic named Anzor Tsarnaev, struggled to make a living. Tamerlan, his eldest son, failed to make a career out of boxing, dropped out of community college for lack of money and struggled to find work.
Living on public assistance in a multifamily house in Cambridge, the family began to fray, friends said. The parents separated. Anzor Tsarnaev returned to Russia, battling illness.
Along the way, Tamerlan’s attitude seemed to sour. “I like the USA,” he told the Lowell Sun newspaper in 2004 while competing in a boxing tournament shortly after arriving in the U.S. “America has a lot of jobs.” But a caption accompanying an online photo of him a few years later reads: “Originally from Chechnya, but living in the U.S. since five years…I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”
Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of the two brothers, told reporters outside his Maryland home Friday that his nephews were “losers” who were unable to settle into American life “and thereby just hating everyone who did.”
In the words of the WSJ, their lives unravelled. If lives that have unravelled are a sufficient explanation for committing gruesome acts of terrorism, we’re in a world of hurt. Today millions of Americans have had their lives unravel.
It has emerged that the older of the two brothers had been questioned by the FBI for his ties to terrorism, motivated by tips received from a country that has not been identified (I suspect Canada) and that an arrest for domestic violence was sufficient grounds for his deportation. If this case does not figure in our deliberations over immigration reform, we really need to question our priorities. I think that an immigration policy should be tailored to the needs of the American citizenry rather than the needs of the immigrants. Present policy does not do this.
Yesterday the city of Boston was, literally, shut down by the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Today the search goes on. Now we’re looking for answers.