[ by Charles Cameron — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and those black banners again — I’m just curious ]
Judy Clarke, an attorney specializing in death penalty cases, addresses the Tsarnaev jury in the closing statement for the defense:
Clarke: The govt. wants you to see this picture to suggest Dzhokhar self-radicalized; it's just a religious flag. pic.twitter.com/lG966aCe8I
— Jim Armstrong (@JimArmstrongWBZ) April 6, 2015
Clark is right that the flag is a religious flag, but whether or not for Dzhokar Tsarnaev it had further, specifically jihadist or even eschatological implications is open to question. As you know, black banners commonly signify apocalyptic jihad.
By analogy with the presumption of innocence, though, this flag should be presumed to be purely religious (ie without jihadist implication) unless demonstrated otherwise, no?
Incidentally, Aaron Zelin dealt carefully with a similar question about essentially the same flag — the calligraphy differs slightly in detail — in a tweet regarding the Sydney incident:
This is flag currently held in Sydney window, a garden-variety Islamist flag. Therefore, doesn’t tell us anything yet pic.twitter.com/DgC6wIsE47
— Aaron Y. Zelin (@azelin) December 14, 2014
And in any case, while we’re waiting for the verdict in the Boston trial, I’m just curious.
How does the law deal with issues such as this? To what extent is non-definitive circumstantial evidence contextual and cumulative?