Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Accused Bomber Was Kicked Out Of Mosque

As investigators attempt to find a motive for the Boston Marathon bombings, we are simultaneously learning more about the two suspects. Tamerlan Tsaranev is the deceased 26-year-old suspect who was identified as having suspected ties to Islamic fundamentalist groups in Russia.  

A foreign government — which has not been named — requested information on Tamerlan two years ago. The FBI interviewed Tsarnev and his family but found no ties to terrorism. Two worshippers at the Cambridge, Mass. mosque the brother’s attended told the Los Angeles Times that Tamerlan was kicked out off the mosque three months ago for an outburst against Martin Luther King Jr. 

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of the mosque -- the Islamic Society of Boston -- about three months ago, after he stood up and shouted at the imam during a Friday prayer service, they said. The imam had held up slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of a man to emulate, recalled one worshiper who would give his name only as Muhammad.

Enraged, Tamerlan stood up and began shouting, Muhammad said.

“You cannot mention this guy because he’s not a Muslim!” Muhammad recalled Tamerlan shouting, shocking others in attendance.

“He’s crazy to me,” Muhammad said. “He had an anger inside.… I can’t explain what was in his mind.”

Tamerlan was then kicked out of the prayer service for his outburst, Muhammad recalled. “You can’t do that,” Muhammad said of shouting at the imam.”

This statement has been disputed by a trustee of the mosque, who claims that the 26-year-old was never thrown out, but instead spoken to after the service. The two came to the U.S. ten years ago from Russia, where they were granted political asylum. What predicated the radicalization of Tamerlan Tsarnaev will be the subject of much speculation. What we do know is this, the 26-year-old underwent a drastic change beginning in 2010. According to the FBI, Tamerlan was planning on leaving the country to join “unspecified underground groups.” There are reports that Tamerlan was the mastermind of the operation, with some claiming that he brainwashed his younger, 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

The brothers are accused of setting off two bombs at Monday’s Boston Marathon, the two then lead police on a wild chase beginning with the shooting of a MIT Police Officer Thursday evening. They were said to be armed with at least three firearms and improvised explosive devices. Investigators are currently attempting to use the arsenal to determine whether the two had any assistance from forces outside the U.S.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect changes made following an error to the original Los Angeles Times article. The article incorrectly identified the mosque as the "Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center" the article should have read, the "Islamic Society of Boston" mosque in Cambridge.