THE “black hat” Boston Marathon bombing suspect identified as Chechnyan-born Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was the subject of a photo essay taken some years ago in which he revealed: “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”
A keen boxer, Tsarnaev appears in a series of images, titled Will Box For Passport, taken by Johannes Hirn as he prepared to take part in the National Golden Gloves competition at Salt Lake City.
The captions give insight into the suspect who was killed this morning during a police raid. They reveal that, at the time the photos were taken, Tsarnaev was studying at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston and had aspirations to become an engineer.
They also reveal that Tsarnaev fled Chechnya to Kazakhstan with his family because of the conflict in the early nineties, before coming to America as a refugee.
The photos reveal that, despite living in the US for more than five years, he had trouble assimilating, and claimed not to have "a single American friend" and didn’t understand “them”.
Tsarnaev was representing New England in the heavyweight category at the competition and took a term off school to commit himself to training as a boxer.
The photo essay reveals the suspected bomber's hopes that he would be picked for the US Olympic boxing team. Tsarnaev is quoted as saying that he would rather compete for the United States than for Russia “unless his native Chechnya becomes independent”.
The photos show Tsarnaev dressed up “European style” in white leather shoes and with a large scarf. In one picture he can be seen answering a call on his mobile phone while walking from his Mercedes car to the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts Center where he trained.
Tsarnaev is pictured boxing with his shirt of in one picture, something he says he doesn’t usually do “so girls don’t get bad ideas”, adding: “I’m very religious”. He is quoted as saying that, as a Muslim, he does not drink or smoke and is troubled that “There are no values any more. People can’t control themselves.”
The Independent has requested a comment from photographer Johannes Hirn but has not yet received a response.
As the world Googles the name of the suspect’s names links to Tsarnaev’s digital footprint are being made. A YouTube video sharing account (unconfirmed) that is in his name suggest he subscribed to a channel called “Allah is the One”.
An Amazon “wish list” activated in 2006 under the name Tamerlan (also unconfirmed) show the suspect had looked at books including How To Make Driver’s Licenses and Other ID on Your Home Computer, Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade and Command Attention, Document Fraud and Other Crimes of Deception and How To Win Friends And Influence People.
Matilda Battersby, Independent.co.uk