Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Mohammed Ali Alayed had little in common, unless, of course it turns out that the Tsarnaev brothers viciously slit the throats of Jewish friends in the service of jihad two years before they planted bombs at the Boston Marathon.
Alayed is the son of a Saudi millionaire, a rich kid with an allowance of $60,000.00 a year from Dad who liked to drink and meet girls. He was a student at Houston Community College when he became friends with a fellow student named Ariel Sellouk, the son of Jewish immigrants from Morocco. The two were close for a couple of years, until Alayed became an observant Muslim.
Sellouk hadn’t seen his former friend for over a year when, in August 2003, he phoned and the two spent an evening together, part of it at a bar. They walked back to Alayed’s apartment together. Alayed’s roommate says that there was no sign of tension between the two. Then Alayed pulled out a 6” butterfly knife and cut Sellouk’s throat with such force that the head was nearly severed from his body.
No motive has been proposed, except for the idea that jihad inspired by Alayed’s new commitment to Islam and exposure to Islamist ideas may have been involved. Investigators suspected an Islamist hate crime because of the strange details: no motive, the phone call to a Jewish friend the murderer had not seen for over a year, the newly devout Muslim spending an evening in a bar, and the brutal throat-slitting. Islamists have a bizarre fascination with murder by beheading.
There was no trial. Alayed was allowed to plead guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Few Americans have ever heard about the bizarre and unexplained murder.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not a rich kid. He was the son of immigrants, a boxer of some promise, a college drop-out, and a flashy dresser who liked to drink and party. He sparred regularly with Brendan Mess, a man he once introduced as his “best friend”.
On September 11, 2011, Brendan Mess (Catholic) and two young Jewish men, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken were murdered in Mess’ apartment. Two unidentified men had been seen entering the building near the time of the murders, but there was no sign of forced entry. Oddly, the murderer(s) strew thousands of dollars in cash and thousands of dollars worth of marijuana over the dead bodies. Their throats were slit so brutally that their heads were nearly severed from their bodies.
Some among Mess’ circle of friends though it odd that Tsarnaev chose not to attend the funeral, but he was not questioned by the police. No one was indicted.
After the Marathon bombing, however, the Boston Globe called attention to the unsolved triple murder of three men, one of them a very close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and to the odd facts that the murders took place on 9/11, and involved near-severed heads.
The District Attorney reopened the case. On May 10 ABC News reported that investigators had “mounting evidence” tying both Dzhokhar and Tamerlan to the crime, including the preliminary results of DNA evidence from the crime scene. Cell phone records also place the brothers in the area where the murders took place at the time of the killings.
And I cannot help asking whether a more thorough investigation of this throat-slitting murder back when it occurred on 9/11/11, or a trial with press coverage, might have prevented the Marathon Bombing.
Update: Massachusetts police shot and killed Ibragim Todashev friend of the late, unlamented Tamerlan Tsarnaev today in Orlando, but not before he implicated Tsarnaev in the 2011 Waltham triple beheading murder.
Suppose the Middlesex County had pondered why three young men had had their throats cut to the point of near-decapitation long enough to question the young men’s drinking and sparring buddies.
There would not have been a Marathon bombing.