Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died last week at age 26 in a shootout with police, and his 19-year-old sibling Dzhokhar are hardly the first brothers involved in criminal acts. Three pairs of brothers were among the 9/11 terrorists, for example, and three brothers were convicted in 2008 for planning to attack soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
“There are a lot of criminal enterprises where you have brothers involved,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston. “It is almost always the older brother who is the leader. … Typically the younger brother looks up to the older brother in many ways.”
Friends and relatives paint markedly different pictures of the Tsarnaev pair. Tamerlan could be argumentative and sullen, saying at one point he hadn’t made a single American friend since immigrating years earlier, and he was arrested in 2009 for assault and battery on a girlfriend before those charges were dismissed. Dzhokhar appears to have been well-adjusted and well-liked in both high school and college.