A lot has been written with regards to how two brothers ended up being influenced into carrying out attacks in a country that offered their family asylum and permanent residence. It’s not surprising at all, that for someone like you and I, the idea that a citizen of a country can contemplate causing such devastation, is extraordinary. Of course, the continuous questioning into the ‘why and how’ form part of the investigation. The FBI interrogators are working night and day to trace the steps of the Tsarnaev brothers in the last few years or so, trying to find the pieces of the jigsaw to present a full picture. While all these things are no doubt, vital in getting justice for those families who have endured loss and hurt, it also seems as if we need to accept that perhaps there were no external influences. That there were no other third parties related to Al-Qaeda or any militant organisation that played an active role in radicalising the brothers. Yes the ideology has been absorbed and followed, but what they did was purely their own execution. As the media continue to reveal more about the personalities of the brothers, what has become clear is that the eldest, completely radicalised, influenced his younger brother into believing in his views and obeying his orders. That is as simple an answer there could be, in trying to decipher why a 19-year-old decided to carry out such attacks.
Is it possible that older siblings can have such an influence and use that authority to affect the decisions the younger sibling makes? Research by Professor Laurie Kramer suggests that they can. The report which was published for the journal New Directions For Child and Adolescent Development, suggests that youngsters learn a lot from their siblings in terms of social and emotional development. To some extent, research isn’t even needed to accept the notion that older siblings do indeed, influence what the youngster in the household picks up and learns. Whether it be smoking, drinking or any other behaviour, the action of mirroring will ensue. If one was to also take into account the cultural aspect of the Tsarnaev brothers, it would be right to accept that in such families, the older sibling is somewhat the equivalent of a parent, and so it only seems right for the young sibling to follow the orders and look up to that figure. The mother of the brothers has also talked of how Dzhokhar would have obeyed her older son, reinforcing the point of how important the older sibling can be, in affecting the development of young siblings.
“They loved each other. What Tamerlan was said was law for Dzhokhar. That’s how I raised them. What the elder brother says, the younger brother has to do. That is according to Islam.”
Let’s not forget also, that we’re talking about a young man who was only 19 years old. It’s an age where adolescents are still exploring the world, making rash choices influenced by peers and enjoying life with no responsibilities. At such an age, it’s easy to feel that life isn’t going as planned, especially when Dzhokhar was according to media reports, struggling academically.
It is this concoction of factors that can only explain how a young graduate chose to do what he did. Whilst the FBI quite rightly need to dig deep to make sure that all angles are explored, it seems increasingly more likely that the two brothers sat down one day, both radicalised in different ways, but with the aim of striking terror in the city of Boston.