A look into the minds of Tsarnaev’s fan girls

Three female supporters rally outside Moakley Federal Courthouse on July 10 for Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev's first public hearing. Inside the court, dozens of Tsarnaev's female supporters lined up to get a seat.
Two female supporters rally outside Moakley Federal Courthouse on July 10 for Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev’s first public hearing. Inside the court, dozens of Tsarnaev’s female supporters lined up to get a seat.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Just four months after the Boston Marathon bombings, as the city continues to reel and heal, the fan base for 20-year-old suspected terrorist Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev is going strong. 

Tsarnaev supporter and New York City resident Karina said her loyalty is due to a strong belief that he is innocent — not an attraction.

“I saw a lot of the teenage fan girls in the beginning, but that has diminished because we called them out pretty quickly,” said Karina, who requested her last name be withheld. “It is obvious that he’s a good-looking young man,” she added.

“Speaking for myself, I don’t see a cute guy. I see someone who got screwed over big time, and it could happen to me or anyone. I will never give up. I am there 110 percent.”

Karina was one of the few people to squeeze into Tsarnaev’s July 10 appearance in federal court, and she intends to make it to his Sept. 23 appearance, as well as to the trial, which is expected to run about three months. Karina said she shows her support by protesting (she demonstrated outside Moakley Federal Court in July) and also sends him letters and corresponds with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva.

“I have a heart. I have compassion and empathy and see the injustice — and that’s what I’m pointing out, the injustice.”

Like Karina, thousands of supporters insist their loyalty is due to a steadfast belief that Tsarnaev is innocent; but others, mainly young women, come dangerously close to an unhealthy infatuation with a high-profile criminal.

“There is the notion that [fans] are attracted to someone who, albeit for a heinous reason, is famous,” said Dr. Carlos Cuevas, a Cambridge-based clinical psychologist. “For others, it may be a rescue fantasy. They believe they’re going to save this individual.”

Two women and an 8-year-old boy were killed and more than 260 when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15. Authorities say Tsarnaev and his late brother Tamerlan killed MIT campus police officer Sean Collier three days after the bombings.

On June 27, Tsarnaev was handed a 30-count indictment which includes charges of deadly use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy, aiding and abetting, deadly use of a firearm, carjacking and interference with commerce.

Tsarnaev is being held in solitary confinement at a federal prison in Devens, Mass. He receives letters, books and financial support from admirers.

“People contacting him may have a thought, idea or fantasy about who he is without really knowing him,” said Cuevas. “[It's] pulled together from what they see in the media and read about what he was like before.”

A quick search of “Jahar” on Twitter shows that Tsarnaev’s admirers regularly take to social media to express feelings of affection.

“I hate when people say ‘im in love with a criminal.’ If you haven’t, you’re basically saying he did it,” one fan tweeted. Another said, “Yes I do love Jahar but I’m not in love with him. I care about him and I love him like a brother even though I’ve never even met him.”

For some supporters, Tsarnaev’s fair face negates the ugliness of his alleged crimes, and many believe that this month’s The Rolling Stone cover did little to abate the fan fever.

CROP-Rolling_Stone_Boston_Marathon_Bombing_-0aa8b-6541

“I think it glorified and fueled some of that. It makes him out to be a rock star,” said Cuevas. 

The polished cover was so infuriating to Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy that it prompted him to release bloody and obviously unflattering photos from the scene of Tsarnaev’s April 19 arrest.

“This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone,” Murphy told Boston magazine.

Stores boycotted the magazine, readers vowed subscription cancellations and social media rallied against the publication. Some of Tsarnaev’s supporters slammed the magazine for basically labeling the suspect guilty before trial. But the sultry cover did just what critics feared it would do for other supporters – make them drool.

“They really put jahar on the cover of Rolling Stones, wowowowow lol he looks hot though,” one supporter tweeted last month.

One young woman said that the terrorism suspect “is smoking hot. Omg I’d f-ck him blind.”

According to forensic psychoanalyst William J. Massicotte, a lot of that comes from the nature of adolescence.

“They do have to rebel, in order to consolidate the beginnings of a separate adult identity,” said Massicotte. “There is a forbidden element to sexuality, and it helps make it more attractive. Do any of us feel surprised by the fact that gang members have girlfriends? No, not really.”

Experts believe that people’s fascination with high-profile criminals and suspects is a complex issue that varies with each case, but the infatuations can be indicative of deeper issues.

“I think it speaks to some degree about your choice and the comfort about being in a relationship. … It does say something about your confidence and how you go about choosing partners,” said Cuevas.

Massicotte said few females act on their “passing fantasies,” but “those who may suffer from borderline personality disorder, or are from deprived backgrounds, or both, are more inclined.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.