Accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev applied to legally change his name to that of a venerated Russian militant leader just three months before the attacks, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A previously undisclosed Jan. 23, 2013 Department of Homeland Security application reveals Tsarnaev sought “Muaz” as a new name, a tribute to Emir Muaz, an Islamic separatist that operated in Russia’s southern Dagestan republic until he was killed by Russian forces in 2009.
The name was also reportedly a nickname adopted by Tsarnaev during his trip to Russia.
The Times reports:
A year after twin explosive-laden backpacks killed three people and injured more than 260 others at the Boston Marathon, the name-change petition is part of a growing body of evidence that portrays Tsarnaev as more radical and organized than previously believed.
Defense attorneys for his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, say the older sibling may have been set off by what he believed was FBI pressure and attempts to recruit him as an informant.
U.S. authorities believe Tamerlan was deeply radicalized during his 2012 visit to Dagestan, which, along with adjoining Chechnya, is home to an Islamist insurgent movement. They say he made an unsuccessful attempt to join the rebels and was either sent back to the U.S. to carry out a terrorist strike or took it upon himself.
“You’ve got to be pretty full into this to want to change your name and not be just a nobody named Tamerlan,” said the law enforcement source, who requested anonymity because the case is ongoing. “Maybe he thought because he could not get accepted over there, maybe he could do something here.”