Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Should the Boston bomber be executed? Part II

My answer to that question is “yes” and if you go back in my blog to my immediate previous article (Monday May 18th) you will see why I gave an affirmative answer to that question as you read my views on the death penalty for terrorists that I gave in a speech to over 100 nations at a United Nations crime conference held in Milan in 1985.

Background of the Tsarnaev brothers

The Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar came of age in Cambridge, a town in the State of Massachusetts, USA that prides itself as embracing immigrants who are fleeing conflicts in their own countries. Still, almost two years after the Boston marathon bombing, there's little consensus on how the brothers rejected their acceptance by the people of Cambridge and eventually transformed themselves from striving young immigrants into ruthless killers.  

The Tsarnaev family was forcibly moved from Chechnya to the Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in the years following World War II. Anzor Tsarnaev (the brother`s father) is a Chechen, and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (the brother`s mother is an Avar (modern North Caucasian-speaking people in the North Caucasus), The couple had two sons, Tamerlan, born in the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1986, and Dzhokhar, born in Kyrgyzstan in 1993.              

Anzor is a traditional Muslim who reportedly shuns religious extremism and raised his children as Muslims. In April 2002, the Tsarnaev parents and Dzhokhar went to the United States on a 90-day tourist visa. Anzor Tsarnaev applied for asylum, citing fears of deadly persecution due to his ties to Chechnya. His request was granted.

Their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was a petty thief.  She was arrested  for shoplifting and destruction of property The charge against her was a felony since the value of the merchandise was $1,600.  The store she stole the dresses from was Lord & Taylor, the same company whose security cameras captured the bombers at the marathon. As many as nine dresses were involved in the theft. Their mother fled from the US before the case was heard in court, so a warrant remains outstanding for her arrest.

Their father, Anzor was a scumbag. He ignored laws and had no ethics. He obtained cars in bad shape, made cosmetic fixes and then sold those vehicles for a profit while the cars were still dangerous to drive.   A neighbor said that Anzor regularly threw his trash in neighbors’ recycling bins despite being asked to stop He also filled precious spaces in this parking-starved city with cars he was working on, and claimed a 10-minute loading zone as his all-day storage space for his cars. These are petty offenses, but what stands out in the neighbor’s account is Anzor’s imperviousness to any form of reproach: “No matter how many times people told him it wasn’t right, he did it anyway.” said one of his neighbours. These infractions are nothing like terrorism however a family with two parents liked those two losers and two pot-selling kids is, on its face, a family with a culture of bending or breaking the law. Zubeidat’s flight from justice, coupled with that line about Anzor—“No matter how many times people told him it wasn’t right, he did it anyway”—doesn’t suggest a lot of remorse, either. 

Despite having rotten parents, Tamerlan was a top Golden Gloves boxer. He only spoke about his faith. He was big into religion. Tamerlan attended a Mosque in Cambridge with his brother. He didn't condone drinking and partying.  

Dzhokhar was a steller athlete and the captain of his high school wrestling team. He was popular with his fellow students. He was not a loner. In 2011—the year of his high school graduation—he won a $2,500 dollar educational scholarship from the City of Cambridge. He enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and chose to study nursing, talking about wanting to help people. On Sept. 11, 2012, Dzhokhar took the oath to become an American citizen.

But something changed in the minds of these two brothers. But what was it that changed these two young men into two evil monsters?                          

Tamerlan’s life started to take a dark turn. He dropped out of community college He became very violent toward his wife and was brainwashing her into converting into being a Muslim. In 2009 a domestic violence complaint was filed against Tamerlan. His father who was living in Russia told a reporter that the complaint filed against his son was the reason his eldest son couldn’t become an American citizen and this made Tamerlan angry. Tamerlan is quoted as saying, “I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them.” Most accounts of Tamerlan’s history point to a brutal temperament. He wasn’t just a boxer. He also struck people outside the ring. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “In 2007, Tamerlan confronted a Brazilian youth who had dated his younger sister, Bella, for about two years, and punched him in the face.” A friend of Bella “said Tamerlan did not approve of the relationship because the boy was not a Muslim.”  According to most accounts, Tamerlan found God and renounced boxing as an offense against Islam. But this leaves a puzzling question: “How can a man blow up innocent people in the name of a religion which, by his own reckoning, forbids punching them in a boxing ring?” It would appear to him that he mustn’t hit people in the face, but it’s OK to shred their legs with a bomb.

On the Russian-language social-networking site, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev described his view of the world as being Islamic and his personal priorities as having a good career and having money. He posted links to Islamic websites, links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war, and links to pages advocating independence for Chechnya.  He was struggling academically, having received seven failing grades over three semesters, including Fs in Principles of Modern Chemistry, Introduction to American Politics, and Chemistry and the Environment and had an unpaid bill of $20,000 to the University. He was known to be selling marijuana to make money.          

After their mother fled the US, both brothers were living more or less on their own so there was no real guidance being given to them by parents who could keep them on the straight and narrow path. Their mother certainly wasn’t a good role model from whom they could learn the attributes of honesty, citizenship and respect for others.

The motives for the bombings

Their motivation for the bombings was apparently political in nature. Dzhokhar's handwritten note inside the boat where he lay bleeding stated, “The [Boston] bombings were in retribution for the U.S. crimes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and that the victims of the Boston bombing were collateral damage, in the same way  innocent  victims  have been collateral damage in American wars around the world.” After Dzhokhar was arrested, he told the FBI that he and his brother were angry about the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims in those two countries.

The when and where of the bombings

It is obvious that the two Tsarnaev brothers wanted to kill or maim as many of the American infidels that they could and it didn’t matter to them whether or not the deaths of the infidels were men, women, children or babies just so long as the victims were killed and/or maimed for life.  These are the real aims of terrorists.

They chose April 15, 2013 as the day of their carnage and the finishing area of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. They knew that there would be a greater number of people in that specific area of the marathon.  

The police had previously searched the marathon finish line area for bombs twice before the explosions occurred. They saw nothing that was amiss. Almost three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when one of the two bombs that had apparently been placed on the ground exploded around 2:50 p.m. in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street. Soon after, another bomb exploded. The twin explosions went off 10 or more seconds apart within 100 yards of each other.

The two improvised explosive bombs

The two bombers chose two pressure cookers for their bombs. Anyone who is familiar with pressure cookers is aware that they can be sealed tight. Rudimentary improvised explosive devices using pressure cookers to contain the initiator, switch, and explosive charge (typically ammonium nitrate, RDX or black powder or smokeless powder, frequently have been used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Pressure cookers are common in these countries so their presence probably would not seem out of place or suspicious to passersby or authorities. They certainly would be out of place if placed within a crowd of people in the United States. For this reason, the two pressure cookers were placed in knapsacks by the two Boston Marathon bombers. I don’t know what explosives they used in their bombs.  Such a bomb explodes, by over-pressuring the containment, (pressure cooker) and then spreading the burning material by the inherent pressure released by the containment failure. There is little or no detonation shockwave produced in this type of device, however most of the damage is done by the objects placed in the bombs as shrapnel that fly outwards at a high speed. The impact on humans can be devastating. The explosions, which were set off near the finish line, killed three people and injured more than 170 of which 14 victims lost both or some of their limbs.

The explosive devices used in the attacks in Boston were similar in size to the device used in the 1996 attack at the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta but were not nearly as large as the truck-laden explosives used in Oklahoma City. In the Atlanta attack, a pipe bomb was detonated near pedestrians, killing 2 and injuring more than 100 numbers similar to the Boston Marathon bombings.

The bombing left three individuals dead, including 8-year-old Martin Richard of Boston and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, Massachusetts. A third victim was identified  as Lu Lingzi, a Chinese Boston University graduate student.  Many victims remained in Boston hospitals with various injuries. Two children – a 9-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy – were among the 17 victims listed in critical condition.

The father of 8-year-old Martin Richard described making the agonizing decision to leave his mortally wounded son so he could get help for their 6-year-old daughter, whose leg had been blown off.

Officials revealed that the bombing devices used by the Tsarnaev brothers were made out of ordinary kitchen 1.6 gallon pressure cookers placed in black duffel bags. Investigators said the pressure cookers were filled with shards of metal, nails, ball bearings and small BBs. Officials found an electronic circuit board used as a detonation device. The chief of emergency medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dr. Ron Walls, said in a press conference that one patient had a carpenter nail in him and two others had shiny round pieces of metal debris in them. The impact of these items would be strong enough to damage limbs so severely; they would have to be surgically removed.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III conceded on Thursday that a lack of formal communication within the agency prevented investigators from alerting Russian authorities that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had returned to Russia before the Marathon bombing, information that Russians have asserted could have averted the act of terrorism. I have no idea whatsoever as to what the Russians learned about this man while he was in Russia. If he was simply visiting his father, that wouldn’t be enough to warn the Americans that he was planning to kill Americans.

Mueller also told a congressional panel that the government’s recently revealed surveillance techniques helped spur an investigation of Ibragim Todashev, age 27, an associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaevn. An FBI agent in Florida shot Todashev to death in May 2013 during an interview related to his and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s role in a Waltham, Massachusetts triple homicide.

The triple homicide was committed on the evening of September 11, 2011. Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken were murdered in Mess's apartment. All had their throats slit from ear to ear, with such great force that they were nearly decapitated. Thousands of dollars' worth of marijuana and $5,000 were left covering their mutilated bodies. The local district attorney said that it appeared that the killer and the victims knew each other and that the murders were not random.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had previously described murder victim, Brendan Mess as his best friend, though before Mess was murdered, there had been animosity between Tsarnaev and Mess over Mess's lifestyle.  ABC reported that authorities believe Tsarnaev and his younger brother may have been responsible for the triple homicide since forensic evidence connected them to the scene of the killings and that their cell phone records placed them in the area. The FBI has alleged that just before he was killed, Todashev made statements implicating both himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the Waltham murders by saying that the initial crime was a drug robbery and the murders were committed to prevent them from being identified by the victims.

The hunt for the two bombers

Boston and surrounding areas were in a complete lockdown. Three days later, the FBI announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and his older brother, Tamerlan, were suspects in the case after they were discovered by released photos and videos of the two brothers. That evening, police were called to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, where a 26-year-old university police officer, Sean Collier, had been fatally shot while sitting in his car. Media reports covering the incident stated that investigators believed the Tsarnaev brothers were responsible for shooting Collier which later turned out to be true.

The brothers then carjacked a vehicle and fled to Watertown, Massachusetts, where a gunfight ensued following a police chase in the early hours of April 19, 2013. The two brothers fired shots at the police and even flung pipe bombs at them. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police in the shootout and when his brother tried to escape by driving the car they high-jacked over his brother, he killed his brother. Later that day, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured after he had earlier hid in a boat in the yard of a home in Watertown. After being threatened by the surrounding police, he climbed out of the boat and was taken to a Boston hospital to be treated for injuries, including a neck wound that some investigators believe was self-inflicted. I along with millions of viewers watched his capture on TV.

The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings began on March 4, 2015, in  the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, nearly two years after the pre-trial hearings. Tsarnaev was arraigned on 30 charges, including four for murder. He pled not guilty to all 30 counts against him, which included using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. He was represented by Miriam Conrad, David Bruck, William Fick, and Judy Clarke. Judge George O'Toole was the presiding judge of the trial. Selecting a jury took two months.

Opening statements took place on March 4, 2015. Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb opened for the prosecution.  He gave graphic details of the bombings, while some of their family members were in the courtroom listening. Weinreb said eight-year-old Martin Richard “bled to death on the sidewalk,” Lingzi Lu had the “inside of her stomach pouring out,” and Krystle Campbell was left with “gaping holes” in her body. It was revealed on the first day that Tsarnaev stood on Boystlon Street for four minutes before placing a backpack with a bomb in it on the ground. After planting the bomb Tsarnaev went shopping for milk at Whole Foods after the bombing as if "nothing had happened. He didn’t say anything about the bomb that Tamerlan had placed on the ground because he was dead and therefore not on trial.

Jurors also learned that Stephen Silva, a friend of Tsarnaev’s, provided the 9mm Ruger pistol that killed MIT police officer Sean Collier while the Tsarnaevs attempted to escape. Collier was shot three times in the right hand, twice in the side of the head and once between the eyes. Weinreb didn’t say which of the two brothers shot Collier but it didn’t matter since both would be culpable for the murder of Collier.  

The prosecution contended that the Tsarnaev brothers were inspired by Al Qaeda, and it was by reading Inspire, an Al Qaeda-sponsored online publication, that they learned how to construct the bombs.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted that their client had planted the bomb but they tried to say that Dzhokhar acted under the influence of Tamerlan. That argument went about as far in the minds of the jurors that a centipede would go with no legs. An argument like that one is like that of a drowning man reaching for a straw in hopes of being saved from drowning.

On the second day of the trial, (March 5) seven witnesses testified about what they saw before, during, and after the blasts. The testimony of Bill Richards, Martin's father, caused several in the courtroom to cry, including at least one juror. Iraq war veteran and Boston police officer Frank Chioloa, testified about the last moments of Krystle Marie Campbell, and fellow officer Lauren Woods did the same about Lingzi Lu Woods. The officer  refused an order to leave Lu's side after she died. Jeff Bauman, a victim who lost both legs, appeared in court wearing shorts. A photo of him being pushed in a wheelchair by “the man in the Cowboy hat,” Carlos Arredondo, was widely circulated after the blasts. He testified that he noticed a nervous Tamerlan leaving a backpack on the ground moments before it exploded.

By the third day of testimony, (March 9) jurors had heard from 27 witnesses who were either injured in the explosions, or who attempted to help those who were. Jurors also saw a compilation of security camera videos that show the Tsarnaev brothers approach the finish line, place the bombs on the ground, and then walk away. It was also revealed that Tsarnaev had a secret Twitter account with which he posted his extremist Islamic views.

James Hooley, head of Boston Emergency Medical Services, testified ambulances brought 118 victims to hospitals. Police vehicles were also used to transport victims, and every available Boston Police resource was brought to the scene.

On April 8, 2015, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all thirty counts of the indictment. The charges of usage of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, in addition to aiding and abetting, made Tsarnaev eligible for the death penalty.

Bill and Denise Richards, parents of the youngest of the three killed in the bombings, urged against a death sentence for Tsarnaev. They stated that the lengthy appeals period would force them to relive that day continually, and would rather see him spend life in prison without possibility of release.

It is understandable why they wanted immediate closure and the only way they could get it would be if Tsarnaev was sentence right then to life in prison without parole.  However, if they thought that would bring closure, they were wrong because if Tsarnaev appealed the conviction and the sentence of natural life in prison, they would still not get closure for years to come.

On May 15, 2015, the jury recommended to the judge that Tsarnaev be sentenced to death by  lethal injection on six counts of the indictment. Federal death sentences are carried out at the United States Prison at Terre Haute in Indiana. At present, he is being held in the Special Confinement Unit (death row) at that federal prison. He will remain there for years as his lawyers appeal their client’s conviction and sentence.  

There is no doubt in my mind that when the day of his execution arrives, the victims and their survivors will be permitted to watch his execution via  a cable TV feed. Perhaps then, they will get some kind of closure. Unfortunately, there will never be full closure for them but they will know that the person who caused them so much misery in their lives will have paid for his crimes with his life. That at least will bring them some satisfaction.

As to be expected, there will be soft-hearted, soft-headed sob-sisters wailing and saying that only God has the right to end a person’s life. Their cries and tears will be meaningless to the vast majority of us who recognize the right of the United States to execute this fiend. After that is done, the sob-sister’s God can do what he, she or it wants with that monster’s soul.

UPDATE: June 24, 2015:  For the sentencing to death decision of the jury to be legal, the sentence of death has to be passed on to the defendant by the trial judge. That occurred on June 24th. But before this killer was sentenced to death by the judge, the killer was asked if he had anything to say. His apology was  a five minute address peppered with religious references and praise of Allah.Then he said to the relatives of the victims he murdered and the victims who lost limbs, "I am sorry for the lives that I have taken, for the suffering I have caused you and for the damage I have done. I pray for your relief [and] for your healing." Many present in the court didn`t believe his apology was sincere and neither do I.  If he was looking for sympathy from the judge, he got about as much sympathy that a cockroach gets when it is stepped on. US District Judge George O'Toole Jr. said just before he passed the sentence of death on Tsarnaev, `The evil that men do lives after them. The good is often interred with their bones.`I guess what he was tying to convey was that Tsaraev will be remembered in history but his victims will be forgotten. No-one will remember that Tsaraev`s teachers were fond of him, that his friends found him fun to be with or that he showed compassion to disabled people. What will be remembered of him¸is that `he willfully and intentionally murdered and maimed innocent people. He is currently in the death row Unit in the State of Indiana. If appeals are to follow, it could be decades before this cockroach is put to death. 

It is too bad that the Americans did`not take heed of my address I gave in 1985 ìn Milan at the United Nations Congress on crime prevention when I suggested that after a sentence of death is passed on to the terrorist, the Supreme Court of the country is given the transcript of the trial and if they find no fault in how the trial was conducted, they then permit the execution to take place within days of their decision.I am in my eighties so I probably won`t learn what his final statement was before he got the needle that puts him to sleep permanently.  


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