EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 21, 2013

For bombing suspects, question may be who led whom

BOSTON (AP) — Tamerlan Tsarnaev ranted at a neighbor about Islam and the United States. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, relished debating people on religion, "then crushing their beliefs with facts."

The older brother sought individual glory in the boxing ring, while the younger excelled as part of a team. Tamerlan "swaggered" through the family home like a "man-of-the-house type," one visitor recalls, while Dzhokhar seemed "very respectful and very obedient" to his mother.

The brothers, now forever linked in the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy, in some ways seemed as different as siblings could be. But whatever drove them to allegedly set off two pressure-cooker bombs, their uncle is certain Dzhokhar was not the one pulling the strings.

"He's not been understanding anything. He's a 19-year-old boy," Ruslan Tsarni said of his brother's youngest child, who is clinging to life in a Boston hospital after a gunbattle with police. "He's been absolutely wasted by his older brother. I mean, he used him. He used him for whatever he's done. For what we see they've done. OK?"

Criminologist James Alan Fox says the uncle's intuition is justified. In cases like this, he says, it is highly unusual for the younger participant — in this case, a sibling — to be the leader.

"I would be surprised," says Fox, a professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Boston's Northeastern University. "Very surprised."

Whatever their fraternal pecking order, when the bullets began flying in Watertown on Thursday night and 26-year-old Tamerlan went down, his younger brother ran him over — dragging him for about 30 feet — before ditching the car and fleeing on foot. After a 24-hour manhunt that shut down most of the Boston metropolitan area, police cornered the gravely wounded Dzhokhar hiding in a boat in a backyard, only blocks from where his brother bled out.

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