An investigation into Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s troubled past:
“Yet he ‘never raised any red flags,’ says one of his history teachers, who, like many, requested anonymity, given the sensitivity of the case. Her class, a perennial favorite among Rindge students, fosters heated debates about contemporary political issues like globalization and the crises in the Middle East, but Jahar, she says, never gave her any sense of his personal politics, ‘even when he was asked to weigh in.’ Alyssa, who loved the class, agrees: ‘One of the questions we looked at was ‘What is terrorism? How do we define it culturally as Americans? What is the motivation for it – can we ever justify it?’ And I can say that Jahar never expressed to us that he was pro-terrorism at all, ever.’
“Except for once.
“‘He kind of did, one time to me, express that he thought acts of terrorism were justified,’ says Will. It was around their junior year; the boys had been eating at a neighborhood joint called Izzy’s and talking about religion. With certain friends – Will and Sam among them – Jahar opened up about Islam, confiding his hatred of people whose ‘ignorance’ equated Islam with terrorism, defending it as a religion of peace and describing jihad as a personal struggle, nothing more. This time, says Will, ‘I remember telling him I thought certain aspects of religion were harmful, and I brought up the 9/11 attacks.’
“At which point Jahar, Will says, told him he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.”