Suspected Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was tormented by voices in his head, according to the Boston Globe, which published the results of a five-month investigation into the attack on Sunday.
“He believed in majestic mind control, which is a way of breaking down a person and creating an alternative personality with which they must coexist," Donald Larking, a 67-year-old who attended a Boston mosque with Tamerlan, told the Globe. "You can give a signal, a phrase or a gesture, and bring out the alternate personality and make them do things. Tamerlan thought someone might have done that to him.”
The 26-year-old, who was killed in a shootout with police, carried out the twin bombings with his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, who was later captured and charged with an act of terror.
According to the 18,000-word report, Tsarnaev brothers were coequals in planning the twin bombings that killed four and wounded more than 260 others. And despite suspicions that Tamerlan made contact with Islamist radicals during a 2012 visit to Kyrgyzstan, the paper concludes the brothers' violence was "more likely rooted in the turbulent collapse of their family and their escalating personal and collective failures."
Other notable parts of the paper's investigation:
• A family friend said Tamerlan was "idolized" by the rest of the Tsarnaev clan. "Anything he said was right," the friend said. "He was perfect.” When his mother, Zubeidat, told the friend that Tamerlan had said he "felt like there were two people living inside of him,” she refused the friend's advice to seek treatment for her son. "No, he’s fine," Zubeidat said, according to the friend. "She couldn’t accept the tiniest criticism of him."
• "Tamerlan had some form of schizophrenia," another family friend speculated. "That, combined with smoking marijuana and head trauma from boxing had all made him ill."
• But Zubeidat decided "medical treatment wasn’t the answer for her son," the Globe reported. "Religion was. Eventually, she would encourage Tamerlan to embrace Islam to discourage him from partying and drinking."
• At times, neighbors of the Tsarnaevs' crowded Cambridge apartment "had to put their hands over their ears to block out the noise." Zubeidat, their mother, was the loudest, a neighbor said.
• Anzor, the brothers' father, was an intimidating figure to the rest of the family, once hitting Dzhokhar and ordering Tamerlan to end a relationship his younger sister was having with a man who was not Muslim. Tamerlan, Anzor's enforcer, "obliged with a neat right hook," the paper said.
• The Tsarnaev parents "were adamant that their children have marriage partners selected for them."
• In July 2012, Dzhokhar posted on Twitter: “my moms tryina arrange a marriage for me aha she needs to #chillout I’ll find my own honey.”
• There are differing accounts surrounding the family's move from Russia to the United States. Zubeidat's former co-worker said she told her Anzor had tried to prosecute some members of the Russian mob. “The mob came and took Anzor for one week and tortured him so severely that he almost died. When they were done they dumped him out of their truck in the middle of nowhere,” the co-worker said. “Zubeidat went to the hospital and when she saw how horribly beaten he was she said that she realized they had to get out of the country." Before Anzor left the hospital, the mob "took the family’s German shepherd, cut off its head, and deposited it on the Tsarnaevs’ doorstep."
• Tamerlan routinely attended parties at Salem State University when Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was allegedly murdered by the Tsarnaev brothers as they fled Cambridge, was a student. But there's no evidence that the elder Tsarnaev and Collier ever met.
• The Tsarnaev parents were mostly absent from Dzhokhar's life, but the family would show up to Tamerlan's boxing matches religiously, believing his success in the ring "was their passport to respectability."
• Tamerlan's former training partner made fun of his flashy clothes, dubbing him “Eurotrash.” But when his boxing career failed to materialize, he became "rudderless."
• Tamerlan once told friends he believed 9/11 was a conspiracy carried out by the U.S. government. Zubeidat also declared that 9/11 was “purposely created by the American government to make America hate Muslims.""
• After returning from a trip to Dagestan, friends said Tamerlan "had visibly changed":
His face was covered by a thick beard. Gone were the silver boots and trademark fur hat, replaced by dark clothing and a white prayer cap worn by Muslims. His prayers in the corner of the Wai Kru gym, which once took minutes, now lasted up to half an hour. His visits to the gym were rare.
“When he came back he had really dialed up the religion thing,” recalled his Wai Kru training partner, who declined to be identified. “The days of joking about his appearance, the Eurotrash, that kid was gone. In his place was a quite intense individual, one very focused on the heavy bag.”
So, too, Tamerlan’s anger over America’s foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq had escalated several notches. At home, he railed angrily about Muslims being killed overseas.
• Meanwhile on the UMass Dartmouth campus, Dzhokhar was earning $1,000 a week as a drug dealer known for “having the best bud on campus,” according to a longtime friend.
• At the 2012 Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar, then a freshman UMass Dartmouth, ate pizza, savored the sunshine and — as he often did — smoked a joint.