Investigators piecing together the recent activities of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers in an effort to determine when the older of the brothers began to embrace a radical brand of Islam should take a close look at where he worshipped, according to a group that has been eyeing the mosque for years.
Friends and family say that after Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Islamic faith had taken a sharp turn toward extremism sometime around 2009, the year he quit smoking, drinking and boxing. They say he also had begun to influence the religious beliefs of his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Their growing faith might have been the cause of an upheaval in the Tsarnaev household, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died early Friday after a shootout with police, worshipped at the Islamic Society of Boston, located in the brothers’ Cambridge neighborhood. Officials at the mosque stated that Tamerlan was an “infrequent visitor,” but reports suggest that the 26-year-old had been attending Friday prayer services for at least the past 18 months.
“This is a radical mosque.”
– Dennis Hale, Americans for peace and tolerance
“In their visits, they never exhibited any violent sentiments or behavior,” the Islamic Society of Boston said in a statement. “Otherwise, they would have been immediately reported to the FBI. After we learned of their identities, we encouraged anyone who knew them in our congregation to immediately report to law enforcement, which has taken place.”
Some Boston-area mosques have said they would not officiate a funeral for Tsarnaev, although an official for the Islamic Society, which also operates a larger house of worship in Roxbury, has said Tsarnaev’s funeral could be handled there, but that clerics would not lead prayers for him. Tsarnaev’s aunt in Makachkala, Russia, told NBC that an unspecified mosque where the family worshipped is refusing to hold services for him, but the mosque was not named.
Mosque officials said Tsarnaev was kicked out three months ago after becoming agitated by a sermon in which an imam praised Martin Luther King Jr., who Tsarnaev said was not worthy of such esteem because he was not Muslim.
No one from the law enforcement community has publicly suggested that the mosque played any role in radicalizing either Tsarnaev brother. But Dennis Hale, of a Boston-based group called Americans for Peace and Tolerance, said his group has monitored the mosque for several years, and said there’s reason for concern.
“This is a radical mosque,” said Hale, who is also director of undergraduate studies at the Political Science department of Boston College.
Hale said the mosque has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and has frequently hosted radical speakers. He also noted that one of its founders, Abdurahman Alamoudi, pled guilty in 2004 for conducting illegal transactions with the Libyan government and his partial role in a conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Alamoudi, who served as an Islamic adviser to President Clinton, was accused by critics of espousing pro-American language while lobbying in Washington, while expressing his support of terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah when addressing Islamist rallies.

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