Suspect #2

By tamara on
image of wanted poster for boston marathon bomber

Just as the entire nation did, I too watched the final moments leading up to the capture of Boston Bombing Suspect #2, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, glued to a television screen.  At the time, I happen to be eating dinner at a crowded New Jersey restaurant, where a television hung over the bar but was visible from nearly every table in the dining area.  Everyone watched in suspense and anticipation.  It would now only be a matter of moments before Tsarnaev would be seized by the authorities.

On right side of the screen was Tsarnaev’s photo; the same one that was on the Wanted Posters that were circulated across Boston and broadcasted around the world.  I stared at it intently for few moments.  I looked into his eyes in search of a killer, a murderer, a ruthless monster.  But in all honesty, I didn’t see that.  What I did see was a child – a misguided 19-year old kid, who was probably under tremendous influence by his older, domineering  brother.

For a brief moment I began to feel bad for him.  I tried not to, and drew on piety to help stomp out those emptions.  But it was no use; compassion was winning the battle that ensued in my head.  I looked around the bar and hoped that no one could hear my thoughts which I feared could be perceived as unpatriotic or un-American.  But there was the photo again and on the main screen, a live broadcast of the boat.  The authorities were moving in.

I then tried to put myself in his Tsarnaev’ shoes and to feel what he might be feeling.  I tried to comprehend his fear and what it might be like to have the weight of every law enforcement agency in United States crushing him.  My heart began to race and my palms began to sweat.  I tried to recall a situation in my own life when I felt intense fear and anxiety and all I can think about was taking the Series 7 exam.  After the exam the test score automatically tallies, which takes about 30 seconds.  During those 30 seconds my heart pounded so hard and so fast that I thought it would leap right out of chest and onto the table in front of me.  Tsarnaev’s heart must have been racing just like that for days.

We paid the check and left the restaurant.  As soon as we got into the car, we turned on the radio.  They got him!  I could hear the cheers pouring out of the restaurant as we drove away.  Thank God, it’s over – Boston could now breadth a sigh of relief.  And so did our entire nation.

But I still couldn’t stop thinking about Tsarnaev and wonder why?  What could have possibly happened to these two brothers to provoke such violent acts of terror?  Perhaps upbringing played a role.  I wonder if childhoods that were nurtured in worn-torn countries such as Chechnya, which is extraordinary violent, lay fertile ground for violence to breed within an individual.  Does violence then become part of one’s DNA?

It is hard for me to understand what life would be like under conditions of war.  And it is difficult to know what kind of person is spawned from a country violently oppressed by another.  Where one country holds the other in its hand and squeezes the very life out of it – destroying the spirit of its people, their passion and zest for life; destroying their hope.

Of course none of this excuses Tsarnaev’s actions or justifies his behavior – nor does it entitle him to receive forgiveness.  And although his crimes may have been the result of severe brainwashing by his older brother or the Islamic Brotherhood, he is an American citizen now.  And as an American he had the right to the very freedoms he sought out to destroy.  As an American he had he right to choose.


  1. While I think I may understand your claim that those thoughts don’t justify his behavior nor entitle him to forgiveness, but do they not force us to ask ourselves if our forms of justice (solitary confinement, state ordered death, etc.) are actually just?

    • Hmm, “Justice.” I’m not sure that I know what an appropriate punishment would be for a crime such as this one. I do know that the situation is emotionally charged – people are angry and they want “justice.” And in situations that are fueled by so many emotions I think we have to be very careful and step back and think it through because presendent will be set. I am concerned that with every attack the government takes more and more of our rights in the interest of public saftey – and as a scared society we are glad to hand them over in order to feel protected. I fear that in this situation every legal exemption will be exercised in the name of “justice” or “public safety.” Personally, I would rather see him stripped of his US citizenship (which the government has the right to do) and dealt with at Gitmo leaving our constitutional rights in tact.

  2. Its not that your thoughts for poor Dzhokar are un-American or unpatriotic, it’s that they are unbelievably naïve. You have fooled yourself into a Florence Nightingale effect with this cold blooded killer. 4 lie dead at his hand and hundreds more maimed and injured. The ripple effect of the loves and friends affected by his act of terror is almost countless, as he impacted mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
    His uncle had it right when he said that he and his brother were “looser”.
    Your post rambles in and out of themes to point where I have lost sight to what your point is. You start with how he doesn’t look like a killer- just “a misguided 19-year old kid.” I’m not sure blowing-up innocent children, mothers, fathers, daughters, and son constitutes “misguided.” Investing in a Ponzi scheme is misguided, stealing money from the seven-eleven is misguided, planting bombs to maime and kill is twisted and sick- not misguided.
    You continue on to wonder how our poor misguided boy must have felt with the weight of law enforcement and the U.S. coming to bear down on him. You express your compassion for him and try to put yourself in his shoes as you compare the act of callous murder to that of taking the series 7exam- WHAT! You’ve got to be joking.
    A person that plants a bomb with the intent of committing mass murder and then goes back to college and parties with his friends is not deserving of your compassion- ever. You should feel disgust by his grotesque behavior. And As I read on in your article, I wait for the punch line, for some pearl of wisdom, what could cause this, but I get nothing.
    You continue to ramble and finally end by exhibiting your total lack of understanding on what your rights and responsibilities are as a U.S. citizen…. “he is an American citizen now. And as an American he had the right to the very freedoms he sought out to destroy. As an American he had (t)he(sic) right to choose”. He never had the right to “choose” to kill innocent people. He never had to right terrorize, threaten, or bomb our fellow citizens. No one has the right to commit violence in this country. I suppose he has the right to choose to be a rapist or a child molester too. Well doesn’t and he never did have the right to “choose” anything, as you implied. He did have the responsibility, as a citizen, to abide by the law, act in accordance with the laws of our country, and he had the right to peacefully assembly and to petition the government to address grievances. Hopefully the U.S. justice system will now take away those rights and condemn him to death.

    • I don’t believe in responding to hate with hate – but lucky for us there are enough people like you to lead the public lynching. Don’t worry this kid will fry and “justice” will be served!!!

      And just because I show a shred of compassion for this kid, it doesn’t take away from the compassion I feel for the victims. Of course my heart goes out to them.

      I am rambling because what I am describing is the stream of consciousness as a reation to what I am watching on tv which is not meant to necessarily be logical or even coherent. What I was trying to capture with my post is the thought process of trying to understand behavior that makes absolutely no sense. I’m sorry I let human compassion interfere with judgement and punishment and was unable to tied this post up with a point that is in line with your opinion.

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