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"To be perfectly honest, I did not know he HAD an older brother from the start," said classmate Alexandros Stefanakis, who played pickup basketball games and hung out with Dzhokar outside school.
Anne Kilzer of Belmont would go to the Tsarnaev home for regular facials from the boys’ mother, Zubeidat. She said the older brother was a "macho guy," whereas Dzhokhar seemed more cerebral.
The few times that Tamerlan was there, he would wave his mother off when she tried to introduce him. "He sort of swaggered through," she said. "Sort of a man-of-the-house type."
In a blog entry, Kilzer’s daughter, Alyssa, suggested that the mother became increasingly religious as their acquaintance progressed. For instance, she began wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf.
"She started to refuse to see boys that had gone through puberty, as she had consulted a religious figure and he had told her it was sacrilegious," Alyssa Kilzer wrote. "She was often fasting. She told me that she had cried for days when her oldest son, Tamerlan, told her that he wanted to move out, going against her culture’s tradition of the son staying in the house with the mother until marriage."
She said the mother also expressed some rather strident views about the U.S. government. But it was difficult to know who was influencing whom in the household.
"During this facial session she started quoting a conspiracy theory, telling me that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims," Alyssa Kilzer wrote. "‘It’s real,’ she said. ‘My son knows all about it. You can read on the internet.’"
Kilzer didn’t say to which son the mother was referring. Kilzer, who is studying in Scotland, could not immediately be reached.
Tsarni told The Associated Press from his home in Maryland that a deep rift opened between him and his sister-in-law, but that he tried to maintain a relationship with the boys. However, that effort began to fall apart several years ago, he said, when Tamerlan "started carrying all this nonsense associated with religion, with Islamic religion."
When he asked his older nephew why he wasn’t in school, he said Tamerlan gave an enigmatic answer. "Oh, I’m in God’s business," the young man replied.
Tamerlan would throw out foreign words like "jihad" and "Inshallah" — Arabic for "God willing" — without really understanding their meaning, he said. Though Tsarni is himself Muslim, he said he does not worship at a mosque.
The uncle was surprised when he learned that Tamerlan had gotten married to an American woman — a "good Christian family girl," who his nephew said was about to convert to Islam.
In February, Alexander Podobryaev, who lives a couple of houses from the Tsarnaevs, exchanged pleasantries with Tamerlan as they shoveled snow. He says the man pointed to a woman in a black Muslim headscarf and identified her as his wife.
Others began noticing signs of Tamerlan’s increasing agitation.
One of the brothers’ neighbors, Albrecht Ammon, said he had a bizarre encounter with Tamerlan in a pizza shop about three months ago. The older brother argued with him about U.S. foreign policy, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and religion.
He said Tamerlan referred to the Bible as a "cheap copy" of the Quran, and that many of this country’s wars "are based upon the Bible — how it’s an excuse to invade other countries."
"He had nothing against the American people," Ammon said. "He had something against the American government."
Dzhokhar, on the other hand, was "real cool," Ammon said. "A chill guy."
While his older brother was railing about religion and world politics, Dzhokhar seemed more interested in the HBO series "Game of Thrones" and other television shows.
"Breaking Bad taught me how to dispose of a corpse," he tweeted on Jan. 16, referring to the popular AMC series about a dying chemistry teacher who turns to cooking methamphetamine to leave a nest egg for his family.
He did tweet about religion, but they were hardly the words of a hard-core zealot.Next Page >
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