The younger of the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombings has said that the pair were inspired by watching online videos of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told investigators that he and his older brother Tamerlan were motivated in part by the radical Muslim cleric who was killed by the U.S. in Yemen on September 30, 2011, reports The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. government officials said that al-Awlaki was a senior talent recruiter and motivator who was involved in planning terrorist operations for al-Qaida. He reportedly played a role in the radicalization of the so-called underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria, who pleaded guilty of trying to blow up an American-bound airplane on Christmas Day, 2009.
Al-Awlaki had many of his videos posted on YouTube until they were removed following a request from Congress in November 2010. According to CNN, however, the Dagestan wing of the Caucasus Emirate, a jihadist group fighting to create an Islamic state in the region, also posted videos of al-Awlaki.
The Tsarnaev brothers, of Chechen origin, spent much of their childhood in Dagestan before emigrating to the U.S. with their family in the early 2000s. Investigators, however, have reportedly not found evidence of direct contact between the Tsarnaev brothers and the cleric.
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