Friday, March 6, 2015

Did an Armenian convert radicalize the bombers?

Of all the strange aspects of the tragic Marathon bombing this may be the strangest: Tamarlan Tsarnaev's relatives say he was radicalized in the Boston area by a Muslim convert of Armenian (Christian) origins.

Did an Armenian convert radicalize the bombers?

Of all the strange aspects of the tragic Boston Marathon story, this may turn out to be the strangest:

Both Tamarlan Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni, and his former brother in-law have told the Associated Press that he was radicalized in the Boston area by a Muslim convert of Armenian origins named Misha. This happened in 2008 or 2009, after which Tamarlan became an ardent reader of jihadist websites and gave up writing and playing music, according to his relatives.

“I heard about nobody else but this convert,” Tsarni told AP. “The seed for changing his views was planted right there in Cambridge.”

We all know that converts can be more zealous than those born to a faith, but an Armenian native who converted to a radical brand Islam? As the world knows, Armenian Christians suffered their own holocaust at the hands of Muslim Turks early in the 20th century, during the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.

AP has been trying to find Misha for several days but no success yet.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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