Explanations for motivation of Boston bombers abound

(Photo: Reuters / Vladimir Pirogov)A man herds sheep in the Glass factory district of the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok April 20, 2013. Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in the central Asian city before moving to the United States. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are remembered as decent and obedient boys from their time in the 1990s in the small community of Chechens in Tokmok, a leafy town under the snow-capped Tien Shan mountains outside the capital Bishkek.

Now that the manhunt for the two brothers who allegedly set off bombs at the finish  line of the Boston Marathon is over, the questions regarding their motivations for such a horrific deed have begun.

It is still early in the investigation, and some claim it is too early to ask such questions, but the proposed answers are wide ranging at this point.

One of the primary explanations for why the Tsarnaev brothers decided to kill and maim dozens of innocent people is that they were Muslim jihadists.

 What inspires this belief is that the young men were Muslims of Chechen origin. Chechnya is a semiautonomous and mostly Muslim republic in Russia which up until recently has been waging a war for independence.

The brothers came to America in 2002. Their family was living in Kyrgystan, a Central Asian republic. They came to the United States when they could not resettle in Chechnya.

Tamerlan Tsarenev, 27, was the oldest of the brothers. He  was killed Friday in a shootout with police.

His mother said he was religious and political.

Zhubeidat K. Tsarenev told Russia Today television,"My son Tamerlan got involved in religious politics five years ago".

(Twitter)Dzokhar Tsaranev,19, is accused along with his brother of planting the bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon last Tuesday. While his brother Tamerlan died in a hail of gunfire with police,he remains hospitalized due to his wounds suffered during his flight from police. Many are wondering what inspired the Tsaranev brothers to plant the bombs.

"He started following his own religious aspects", she said."He never told me he would be on the side of jihad."

Tamerlan's younger brother Dzokhar, 19, is in a Boston hospital after being captured on Friday. 

Family members had been concerned about Tamerlan's influence on Dzokhar. The younger brother is said to have looked up to his older sibling. 

The UK Daily Mail suggested that the men were motivated by the Chechen conflict. They noted that explosives were planted underneath a Russian flag hanging with other banners on the race route. 

Christians have proffered a less political and more spiritual explanation for what inspired the brothers. 

Greg Laurie, a popular California pastor and founder of Harvest Ministries, said on Thursday in Religon Today:

"The pundits take their usual positions, each looking for someone to blame...but let's not miss the obvious here...the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart."

Fr. Dwight Longenecker suggested in Integrated  Catholic Life  magazine that the bombings were demonic in nature.

"It seems like the devil himself is stalking the streets--seeking whom he may devour", he said.

Longenecker wrote that it is difficult to trace demonic influence because it may present itself in other forms. These symptoms of spiritual evil also summarize many of the  secular explanations for the Tsarenev brothers' actions :

" Is there a medical and chemical disturbance? Or is it a personality disorder or is the problem pyschological? Is the person disturbed emotionally or are there deep relational problems? Is there abuse, addiction or psychatric illness?"

The parish priest and author from South Carolina added,"It could be all these things or a mixture of them."

Longenecker said that these problems are like an "intractable knot" and could be made even more difficult by demonic influence or full-blown demonic possession. 

"Then the problem is compounded because the demon, if there really is a demon there, will hide and deceive," he said.

Megan Garber in the Atlantic Magazine claimed that individuals and the media have a difficult time reconciling the type of terror inflicted by the Tsarenev brothers when their lives seemed so typically American and normal.

Tamerlan was married to a native born American.  He was a boxer aiming to compete for the United States in the Olympics. 

Dzokhar is a college student. He is described as laid back.

Garber  said that the explanation for why the Tsaranev brothers acted as they did is complex.

However, she complained that this explanation  is not conveyed in the media.

Garber wrote that alleged perpetrators such as the Tsarenevs are turned into symbolic caricatures by the media so that people can make sense of what they did.

"Evil may not offer an explanation, but it does offer an answer," she said."Sort of."

In order to understand why the Tsaranev's left their seemingly normal lives to plant bombs in Boston on Tuesday, Garber said that people have to "embrace complexity."

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News