6/2/13

The Free Jahar Kids

The saga of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects continued last week, with the story of the FBI's killing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's friend in Orlando the week before changing several times: Did Ibragim Todashev lunge at the officials with a knife, or metal pole, or something else, or nothing at all? Meanwhile, the suspects' mother claimed that when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spoke to her for the first time since his arrest, he told her that he and his dead brother were innocent.

That's all easy fodder for conspiracy theorists, who have been one of the weirder, if entirely predictable, parts of the story. There are plenty of theories, but the one I came into most direct contact with was the legion of teenage girls crushing on Jahar, as Dzhokhar is known, and proclaiming his innocence.

On May 1, three of Jahar's college friends were taken into custody (one of whom may get railroaded by the FBI even though he apparently had no knowledge of the bombing). After the news broke, I got in touch with a former dorm mate of Jahar's who had a brief fling with him near the beginning of the semester.

An editor initially overplayed the headline a bit, calling the woman a former girlfriend, and not long after, a free Jahar Twitter account tweeted, "Did they pay that 'ex girlfriend' a few hundred dollar for that interview or were those reporters simply high while inventing this." To which another replied, "wow just wow I wish I cld see what she looked like idk why I'm just really curious."

We toned down the headline, but that didn't stop a purported "good friend" of Jahar's from emailing me to say that she never knew of any girlfriends of his. After asking if I thought the woman had lied to me, the "friend" asked that I reveal her name and wrote, "I won't confront her or even state how I got it but this is a pretty serious allegation and it really doesn't make Jahar look too good."

Jahar was a conspiracy theorist too. A tweet from his Twitter account reads, "Idk why it's hard for many of you to accept that 9/11 was an inside job, I mean I guess fuck the facts y'all are some real #patriots #gethip." But despite his mother's recent claims, it's not clear that Jahar's in on his own conspiracy. According to a law enforcement official, he wrote a confession on the boat he was captured on, blaming the bombings on the United States military's involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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