Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not get the welcome he was expecting from Islamists he hoped to bond with when he traveled to the Dagestan region of Russia last year, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police after allegedly planting the bombs along with his younger brother, Dzhokar, made it a point to visit a mosque in the area known for its adherence to the fundamentalist Salafist strain of Islam.
According to Mohamad Magomedov, who became friendly with him at the mosque, Tsarnaev greased his hair with olive oil and applied dark eye makeup, in a move to affect contemporary jihadist fashion.
The move was only partially successful.
Tsarnaev did make some friends, but a number of the mosque’s congregants dismissed him as strange, while others said they worried his attitude would bring more attention down on them from Russian authorities.
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“He attracted a lot of attention because it was clear he was from somewhere else, and he didn't try to hide that,” said Mr. Magomedov.
“His attitude was, 'that's the way I am—so what?'”
Nadirshakh Khachilaev, who helped Ayman Zawahiri, the current head of al Qaeda, during a trip to Dagestan in 1997, founded the conservative mosque Tsarnaev visited.
The mosque has become a meeting place for Salafists and, according to security officials, extreme Islamists whose movements are closely monitored.
Investigators in the U.S. have been trying to find out if Tsarnaev's six-month stay in Dagestan deepened his radical views, perhaps by either putting him in contact with known jihadists or providing him with the expertise to build and plant the bombs that were used at the Marathon. His family has said his religious views were established before he took the trip.
Magomedov said the Boston bombing has residents of Dagestan shaking their heads.
“People here can't understand the logic of it,” Magomedov said.
“He was not radicalized here, there was no big change in his mentality.
He left here the same as he came."
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