“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger”. – The Joker.
No one has taken responsibility for the recent bombings in the Russian southern city of Vladikavkaz. The police and the media have steadfastly labeled the violent attacks on citizens as an act of terrorism. However, the stranger who organized executed and ultimately accountable for the violence is a “no one”, “anonymous”, “lone wolf” passing by us every day. Even if the people or person behind what has happened will be caught, we better get used to a terrorist among us.
Terrorism. We’ve hard of it many times, we’ve seen it on TV and youtube, we’ve read about it in newspapers and journal articles. High street bookshops are full of reading material from fiction to fact on terrorism. Hollywood producers and reporters, World Wide Web and simple rumors made us aware and to extent comfortable with terrorism. And terrorism – terrorists themselves – in a desire to change the world, actually follows the laws of the time and genre. As we learn about terrorism so do the terrorists themselves. They have to. In order to bring the way of life they envisage, religiously violent saboteurs need to know what they are fighting against, and in the process some of them go native. But some of them are native, are us.
I would like to take a closer look at younger Tsarnaev – the Boston marathon terrorist – life and our perceived image of him as of a person and the unexpected action against the society in which he lived and belonged to.
On April 15, 2012 Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan set two homemade bombs during the annual Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring 264 people.
For many runners that day was a sporting celebration of physical and psychological achievement. They deserved it, because it takes time to prepare for the marathon. If you’re an armature runner or have just taken up running you’d better spend 4 to 6 months on your training and conditioning. It is a serious challenge that requires not only physical but also mental tenacity and determination. It’s almost like setting up a terrorist act but much harder.
On the hospital bed Dzholhar said that it was Tamerlan who masterminded the bombings. The older brother represented the terrorist we are well familiar with and whose motives we’ve heard of many times: Islamist beliefs, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan… Although the two were not affiliated with any of the big names in terrorism – such as Al Qaida or Al Shebab. Tsarnaevs took to the Internet to learn how to build explosive devices and plan their actions.
What they have done wasn’t much different to what we expect from a terrorist to do. What was shocking is the way they lived their lives, especially the younger brother, before the terrorist act. That was out of constructed picture of a certain type of terrorist, which for the last couple of decades was overshadowed by the figure of Bin Laden and his ‘terroristic’ cult of personality – a politically correct archetype of a modern day villain.
So, there’s a new kid on the block – terrorist form University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, a qualified lifeguard. An easy-going, marijuana-smoking guy who’s into hip-hop and stay away from politics. If he cared about anything it was money and career. He was one of us.
A terrorist is no longer a powerful, authoritarian, bearded male – be it a German “dark lord” taking over a multistory building to fight Bruce Willis or a freedom-fighter-part-time-terrorist-gun-for-hire personality of Basaev. We have witnessed a transition from the hardcore mountainous bush craft guerillas to laid back terrorists, who don’t only become martyrs but get the swag too.
What puts Tsarnaev apart from others is an opportunity to tell the story. He is certainly not a monster… he’s just ahead of the curve.