From “Boston Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Influenced by Mysterious Radical,” Adam Goldman, Eric Tucker & Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press:
In the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said.
Under the tutelage of a friend known to the Tsarnaev family only as Misha, Tamerlan gave up boxing and stopped studying music, his family said. He began opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He turned to websites and literature claiming that the CIA was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Jews controlled the world.
“Somehow, he just took his brain,” said Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni….
They [Tamerlan and Dzhokhar] were raised in a home that followed Sunni Islam, the religion’s largest sect. They were not regulars at the mosque and rarely discussed religion, Khozhugov [the Tsarnaev brothers’ ex-brother-in-law] said.
Then, in 2008 or 2009, Tamerlan met Misha, a slightly older, heavyset bald man with a long reddish beard. Khozhugov didn’t know where they’d met but believed they attended a Boston-area mosque together. Misha was an Armenian native and a convert to Islam and quickly began influencing his new friend, family members said.
As time went on, Tamerlan and his father argued about the young man’s new beliefs.
“When Misha would start talking, Tamerlan would stop talking and listen. It upset his father because Tamerlan wouldn’t listen to him as much,” Khozhugov said. “He would listen to this guy from the mosque who was preaching to him.”
Anzor [the father] became so concerned that he called his brother, worried about Misha’s effects.
“I heard about nobody else but this convert,” Tsarni said. “The seed for changing his views was planted right there in Cambridge.”
Khozhugov said Tamerlan did not know much about Islam beyond what he found online or what he heard from Misha.