The manhunt for one of the two chief suspects in this week’s Boston Marathon bombings has continued throughout the day. And as the younger of two brothers is pursued by authorities, analysts are looking to social media pages for clues about their motivations.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in the middle of night. The Associated Press and NBC News have reported that he is believed to have traveled abroad for six or seven months last year, flying from New York City to Russia. The details of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s life and travels remain wide open, as the story has evolved throughout the week.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, remains at large, having evaded law enforcement officials for the better part of a day. Other possible accomplices may be on the run as well.
According to various media reports, the Tsarnaev family is from Chechnya, or at least the Caucasus.
Journalists and counterterrorism analysts have pointed to a few social media pages that appear to have been created by the Tsarnaevs. Any analysis of these pages is fraught with difficulty, as fake Twitter accounts and other pages have been created since the brothers were first publicly identified by name.
As BuzzFeed has reported, one YouTube page appears to have been created by Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The video includes a link to a video titled, “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags From Khorasan.”
The video deals with a key part of jihadist mythology: That one of the most significant battles fought against the “infidels” will take place in the Khorasan, a geographic area that includes parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
The Khorasan is considered by jihadis to be the place where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant – Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Mentions of the Khorasan have begun to increase in al Qaeda’s propaganda.
This alone, of course, does not make the brothers al Qaeda operatives. If the YouTube page was Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s, then the video, along with other posts, indicates at least a level of sympathy for the jihadist ideology.
The SITE Intelligence Group reports that one of the playlists on the YouTube page was titled “Terrorists.” The videos in the playlist have been taken down, but SITE says more than one of them is “related to Dagestan” and were initially uploaded to YouTube by the “Vilayat Dagestan,” indicating jihadists disseminated the videos.
The investigation into the Tsarnaevs and their possible ties abroad continues.
Parts of this account were first reported at The Weekly Standard.