Was surviving bombing suspect brainwashed by older brother?

Posted at 10:34 PM, Apr 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-23 23:07:32-04

New York (PIX11) —  Dr. Charles Strozier–a psychoanalyst and director of the John Jay College Center of Terrorism–talked to PIX 11 News about what he perceived to be the dynamics in the relationship between the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother, Dzhokhar, the 19 year old surviving Boston bomber.

“The older brother was more remote, more isolated, became more of a fundamentalist, and–it would seem–had more of a paranoid edge,” said Strozier, “and with that, in psychological terms, comes ‘absolute certainty’.  And that kind of certainty can influence people who are more open.  You had the vulnerable, younger brother–better liked–but without a firm sense of where he’s going.”

Strozier stopped short of using the term, “brainwashing”–which he said dates back to Communist Chinese and North Korean tactics with prisoners of war in the 1950’s–but he compared Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s following his brother into the Marathon bomb plot to the hundreds of cult members who followed Jim Jones to their deaths in 1978, drinking cyanide-laced Kool Aid in the Jonestown mass suicide/massacre.

Speaking of Jones, Strozier said, “They followed him on this path to destruction, with this sense he held the keys to deeper truth.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was married with a toddler daughter, died in the shoot-out with Boston police and the FBI last Friday morning.  An uncle living in Maryland told one reporter the brothers’ mother, now living in Dagestan, was urging them to study hard-line Islam back in 2007.  He called Zubeidat Tsarnaev “controlling.”  Tsarnaev has continued to insist in emotional interviews her sons were “set up.”

Al Kuilan, Jr.–a retired detective with the NYPD’s Terrorism Interdiction Unit–doesn’t buy the notion the younger brother was brain-washed.

“I don’t think he was brainwashed,” Kuilan told PIX 11, “I thought he radicalized himself.  I don’t know what the older brother was spewing to him.  But brainwashed?  He’s old enough to make his own decisions.”