Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Chechen Terrorists?

A significant lead in the Boston Marathon case has unfolded, as authorities recently released photos of possible suspects linked to the tragic bombings that occurred Monday. Boston officials have launched an extensive manhunt to find two men who have been found on surveillance tapes near the sight of the bombings. In addition, their Chechen heritage is a strong indicator of their possible terrorist affiliation.


The suspects have been identified as brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. Both emigrated from Chechnya to the U.S. around 2002 or 2003 and now hold legal citizenship. In surveillance tapes released by the FBI, the duo can be seen carrying backpacks, Dzokhar wearing a backwards white hat and Tamerlan wearing a dark hat and sunglasses. Dzhokar holds a Massachusetts driver’s license and claims residency in the city of Cambridge.

According to the FBI, the Tsarnaev brothers are linked to the state of Chechnya. This also provides a critical piece to this case due to the area’s increased influence of terrorism. Chechnya declared independence from Russia in 1991, however after an extensive war that lasted much throughout that decade, the Russian army regained control of the state. The predominately Muslim area has become a center of extreme separatist sentiments, and groups have launched several terrorist attacks in Russian cities. While it has not been confirmed if the suspects have had military experience, their Chechen background draws significant speculation.

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind for Boston authorities. In a brutal police shootout, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed. A Massachusetts of Technology (MIT) police officer was fatally wounded as well, and an MBTA officer is in critical condition. The brothers resorted to robbing a 7-Eleven store, which resulted in a violent police chase. Explosives and massive gunfire came from the vehicle that was believed to be occupied by the Tsarnaev brothers. Dzhokhar is now at large, and the Greater Boston area is essentially on lockdown. SWAT teams have gone door to door searching residences in Watertown, MA for the remaining suspect. Nearby colleges and universities are on lockdown as well, and the MBTA has been suspended.

“Do not open the door for anyone other than a licensed law enforcement officer,” said Gov. Deval Patrick.

Authorities anticipate that the remaining suspect will be on suicide watch. While the city of Boston has essentially shut down and the stakes are high, information on these suspects have brought authorities steps closers to serving justice against those responsible for the tragic events in the Boston Marathon.

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Shawna Gillen

Shawna is currently studying Political Science and Psychology at Marist College. She has a passion for politics and is an aspiring lawyer. In her spare time she likes to play club women's rugby, and contributes as the Co-News Editor for Marist's student newspaper.

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