A guide to Tamerlan Tsarnaev's favorite YouTube videos

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston Marathon bomber shot dead by Boston police early this morning, may have left some interesting clues to his motivations on YouTube. A user with the same name posted five of his favorite videos here.

The most political of the clips isn't aimed at the West, but at the president of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. The Russian-language video harshly criticizes Kadyrov, whom it denounces as an "apostate" -- contrary to Kadyrov's repeated public claims that he's an ardent defender of Islamic values.

A bit of background: Kadyrov is a Chechen collaborator with the Kremlin, which has given him a free hand in the rebellious republic in return for supporting Moscow's nominal control. Kadyrov's father Ahmad originally supported the Chechen rebels in their first war of independence that began in 1994, then turned against them in 1999 and switched his support to the Russians. (Kadyrov Senior, who by then had become president, was killed by a bomb in 2004 -- presumably planted by pro-independence rebels as an act of revenge.) So this video suggests that the person who posted it saw himself as an ally of Chechen Islamists who are still fighting against Moscow's rule in the Caucasus.

Another video includes a diatribe against Sufis. It shows members of a Sufi brotherhood burying one of their own. The poster has added a caption noting the following in Russian: "This video shows the true essence of the Sufis. These people do not fear Allah, but place someone on the same level with him, praising their dead 'sheikh.' Note that the clip does contain a single reference to Allah." The user, like many fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, considers himself an orthodox believer who regards the Sufis as heretics.

That the user who favorited the videos regards himself as a passionate defender of orthodox Islam is reinforced by two of the other videos. One, in Russian, explains in great detail the proper approach to prayer. The other shows a sermon, entitled "Who is the Almighty Allah?," by an English-speaking Muslim preacher named Shaykh Omar Al-Banna. "Everything is praising Allah -- rock, land, tree," the preacher says.

By far the weirdest of the five is the one entitled (in Russian), "'Chameleon' is one of the names of Allah." It shows a chameleon changing its appearance as plastic glasses of different colors are placed next to it. I guess that could be a reference to someone with a radically different identity hiding in plain sight in a society that he actually despises. But it certainly seems like a bit of a stretch.

Tsarnaev's YouTube account has sections beyond favorites, including one on "Terrorists" with since-deleted videos and one on "Islam," as BuzzFeed has highlighted. There's also this video devoted to praising the pro-independence fighters in Chechnya. "You're like a wanderer in this mortal world," the song notes. "Devote your life to jihad."



Chechen leader on Boston suspects: 'Seek the roots of evil in America'

Chechnya's pro-Russian strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov has just posted a statement about the Boston marathon bombing suspects on Instagram, his social media outlet of choice. Here's the Google-translated version: 

The tragic events took place in Boston. The blast killed people. We have previously expressed their condolences to the people of the city and the people of America. Today, as reported by the media, while trying to arrest a Tsarnaea was killed. It would be logical if he was detained and investigated, found all the circumstances and the degree of his guilt. Apparently, the special services needed by all means to calm the result of society. Any attempt to make the connection between Chechnya and Tsarnaevys if they are guilty, [is] in vain. They grew up in the United States, their attitudes and beliefs were formed there. It is necessary to seek the roots of evil in America. From terrorism to fight the whole world. We know better than anyone else. We wish recovery to all the victims and share the feelings of sorrow Americans. # # Boston # bombing investigation

Meanwhile, Kavkaz Center, the propaganda and news site associated with the Islamist militant movement in the North Caucasus, has posted an item in Russian expressing skepticism about the guilt of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. 

Headlined, "Strange 'Terrorists,'" the article notes that the suspects are "as if to order" for the U.S. media to link the events in Boston to the violence in Chechnya, and reports that "experts" have suggested that the only evidence used by U.S. investigators was looking at photos of people wearing backpacks near the bombing.

Ramzan Kadyrov on Instagram