Opinion Top of the Ticket

Internet imams may have inspired Boston Marathon bombers

Like finding new friends on Facebook or a great deal on EBay, it is easy to locate fiery, radical Islamist imams on the Internet who will guide the willing toward the path of bomb making, random slaughter and martyrdom. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bomber who died in a shootout with police a week ago, seems to have connected with a number of these firebrand theologians in exactly that way.

Tsarnaev did not pick up his militant ideas at his local mosque. In fact, it is being reported that, on two occasions, Tsarnaev interrupted Friday prayer services at a mosque in Cambridge to criticize the speaker for being too liberal and accommodating. At a news conference Wednesday at that mosque, Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, said Tsarnaev’s outbursts did not reach a point that was disturbing enough that mosque leaders felt a need to contact police.

"We thankfully live in a country where freedom of speech is respected, so if someone disagrees with you, you don't just call law enforcement," Vali told reporters. "If we'd seen any behavior that would have suggested that they'd broken the law or were going to do anything of this sort we would have definitely reported to law enforcement."

In an interview on KPCC-FM (89.3) in Pasadena, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, religious leader of the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, said that, despite what the public may believe, few would-be bombers emerge from American mosques. Most of the teaching in those mosques is too moderate and even ecumenical for any disenchanted Muslim seeking inspiration for violence, he said.

"What is not tolerated in our mosques is the whole idea of insinuating, suggesting, implying suggestions of violence,” Fazaga said. “There is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to this.”

Unsatisfied with such moderation, Tsarnaev was forced to find what he was looking for online, investigators theorize. Authorities assessing the motivations of the bombing suspects appear convinced that Tamerlan and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were self-radicalized, “lone wolf” terrorists. Just as they may have gotten their recipe for pressure-cooker bombs from the Internet, so, too, it looks as if they entered cyberspace to indoctrinate themselves with ideas that justified blowing up innocent people.

The rise of the Internet has brought blessings, but also a great many curses. Perhaps the greatest curse is the vastly expanded reach of fanatics with abhorrent, deadly ideologies — a reach that extended to the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • L.A. County condom mandate pushes porn producers into Ventura County
    L.A. County condom mandate pushes porn producers into Ventura County

    Here is a political object lesson from the seamier, steamier end of the entertainment business: The new law in Los Angeles County requiring actors in pornographic films to wear condoms seems merely to have pushed the smutty movie industry into the quiet residential areas of unincorporated...

  • Why did the suspected Boston bomber pivot from benign to brutal?
    Why did the suspected Boston bomber pivot from benign to brutal?

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers accused of perpetrating the Boston Marathon bombing, is the baffling mystery man in this crime.

  • The great fear of the great outdoors
    The great fear of the great outdoors

    Americans find ourselves in a period — arguably, the first in our nation's history — when our unease about being in nature is coming to outweigh our desire for it. We have a growing intolerance for inconvenience, a feeling well captured by the suburban fifth-grader who memorably...

  • Animals and humans sometimes kill their young -- the question is why
    Animals and humans sometimes kill their young -- the question is why

    Among the endless stream of bad news in the media, every now and then something occurs that it is so horrendous that it stops us in our tracks. That has happened once again with Tuesday's massacre at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Among the victims: 132 children who died — many of them...

  • The snackification of everything
    The snackification of everything

    Symbols matter, which is why it's important to acknowledge that our truest national emblem isn't an eagle or a dollar sign or even a handgun, though each will have its proponents.

  • Some Sony lessons: What a difference a hack makes
    Some Sony lessons: What a difference a hack makes

    The Sony hack and the demise of "The Interview" have people howling about appeasement, corporate shenanigans and Kim Jong Un's private life. What will happen next? What should have happened already? And how will it ripple through Hollywood, Washington and even North Korea? Here are four...

Comments
Loading