Slain Boston Bombing Suspect was 'Very Religious'

New details have emerged about the life of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects who was shot dead by police early Friday morning. A refugee from Chechnya, the suspect appears to be a "very religious" Muslim with no American friend.

A photographer named Johannes Hirn, who studied journalism at Boston University from 2008 to 2010, has posted a photo essay online, offering clues about the life of the 26-year-old slain suspect.

Called "Will Box For Passport," the essay carries more than a dozen photographs of Tsarnaev, a boxer who appears in some pictures training at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts center in Boston.

The captions for one of his pictures describes Tsarnaev as "very religious."

"Tamerlan says he doesn't smoke or drink anymore. 'God said no alcohol.' A Muslim, he says, 'There are no values anymore,' and worries that 'people can't control themselves,'" reads the caption. He also mentioned a half-Portuguese, half-Italian girlfriend who had converted to Islam.

The Lede blog by The New York Times, which reported on the online photo essay, sought to interview the photographer, currently based in England, but did not receive a reply.

Another picture of the suspect, taken at a time when Tsarnaev had been living in the U.S. for five years, carries a caption that quotes him as saying that he hoped to represent a new country in the Olympics: "I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."

Tsarnaev was a refugee from Chechnya, who had fled the conflict there with his family in the early 1990s, and came to the United States via Kazakhstan, the captions suggest.

The suspect told the photographer he was aiming at being selected for the United States Olympic team and get an American passport. "Unless his native Chechnya becomes independent, Tamerlan says, he would rather compete for the United States than for Russia," reads a caption.

One police officer was killed and another seriously wounded during the violent encounter as authorities closed in on Tsarnaev and the second suspect, identified as Dzhokar A. Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old brother of the slain suspect.

At sunrise, Gov. Deval Patrick ordered a shutdown of all public transit in Boston, and residents on the fringes of Boston were ordered to stay indoors as a massive manhunt for the second suspect expanded.


"This is situation is grave and we are trying to protect the public safety," said Mass. State Police Col. Timothy Alben, who ordered a temporary lockdown of Watertown, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, Newton, Allston and Brighton.

Police are searching for Dzhokar, who was shown wearing a white cap in surveillance pictures taken shortly before Monday's explosions and released by the FBI on Thursday. "We believe this to be a terrorist," Reuters quoted Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis as saying. "We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody."

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!


Most Popular

More In U.S.