We are waiting for “it”: the explanation, the reasons, the motive; the analysis of the sinister minds that decided to live for years in the U.S., and then turned against their benefactor with fierce, heartless, cold-blooded lethality.
It has been a horrible week for us, and even tenser and tremendously sad for those of us who live in New England, where the Boston bombings and subsequent massive manhunt hit close to home. It has been heartbreaking to see images of the once full of life victims who died, and those who are maimed for life. We held our breaths with each breaking news story hoping that the perpetrators were caught. We have been vigilant and anxious at the same time.
There are so many tragedies and crimes layered into these events, it is increasingly hard to fathom. The greatest crimes, of course, were the indiscriminate killings and injuring of innocent athletes and spectators. Also, the two brothers thoughtlessly and recklessly sucked their families, loved ones, and ethnic and religious compatriots into a seemingly undeserved vortex of guilt, shame, humiliation, anger, frustration, and disrepute; not to mention fear of repercussions, backlash, bigotry, and prejudice. Marked for life, and branded by association.
Yet another crime the brothers so shamelessly committed was to the world of refugees and immigrants. They came to the United States as refugees seeking asylum. They were granted asylum. They lived the greatest dream, one that so many millions in the world would do anything for to trade places with them: the prime education opportunities afforded to them; the athletic skills they attained and enjoyed; the diversity of friends that the U.S., and especially Boston, offers; a fantastic geographic location to reside in; a comfortable life in the land of the free, with no wars or conflicts to flee from. Yet they chose to bring mayhem, violence, and terrorism to Boston. They chose to let all of these superb opportunities slip through their fingers. They chose to turn against their fellow Americans and the country that embraced them with open arms.
They chose to stab us all in the heart.
During the manhunt last week, the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, was eloquent and passionate in his anger and condemnation of his estranged nephews. He understood what a loss the boys engendered in so many dimensions, and he understood the magnitude of the tragedies, and the wasted youth and opportunities they so callously tossed away. He understands and appreciates the blessings of being in America and being an American.
Mr. Tsarni demanded his nephew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, at the time on the run, to “turn [himself] in, and ask for forgiveness from the victims [and] from the injured.” He also added, “I respect this country, I love this country, which gives everyone a chance to be a human being.”
The uncle said the most fitting comment, repeatedly calling his two nephews “losers.”
So much has been lost, thanks to the two brothers.
Hayat Alvi, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the US Naval War College. The views expressed are personal.