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Boston Bomber’s Brainwashed Beau: Katherine Russell Tsarnaev’s Transformation from All-American Girl to Radical
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Friends of Katherine Russell, widow of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, say that she underwent an astounding transformation over the last several years, changing from an all-American, seemingly content student into a devout Muslim who abandoned her dreams of college and international travel for her husband.

The UK’s Daily Mail ran a profile of Russell, who made headlines recently by returning to the home she shared with Tsarnaev for the first time since he was killed in a police shootout. Tsarnaev is suspected, along with his younger brother Dzhokhar, of planning and executing the explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and murdering a police office and injuring another during a police pursuit. Tsarnaev died in police custody late Thursday night, and his brother was apprehended Friday evening.


Since her husband’s death, Russell and her daughter have been staying at her parent’s home in Rhode Island. The Daily Mail reports that Russell has been cooperating with the investigation into her husband’s actions, but that no information about her statements has yet been shared. Reports say that, in the last several months, Russell had been working seven days a week as a health care professional while Tsarnaev traveled and stayed at home with their three-year old daughter.

According to friends who knew Russell in school, as a teenager she was extremely positive and focused on her education. She was a member of several extracurricular clubs in high school, and described by friends as an extremely ordinary American girl. The Daily Mail recounts, in detail, all of the student activities she participated in, from themed dress-up days to awards she won for her paintings.

Russell met Tsarnaev when the two were both students at Boston’s Suffolk University. Less is known about Russell’s time in college, but it is believed she had hopes of joining the Peace Corps after graduation.

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In 2010, three years into her education, Russell, who had quickly converted into a devout Muslim after beginning her relationship with Tsarnaev, dropped out of the school and gave birth to the couple’s child. In 2009, Tsarnaev was charged with domestic abuse against Russell, who was his girlfriend at the time.

One friend who spoke anonymously to the Daily Mail said of Russell, “She was just this all-American girl who was brainwashed by her super-religious husband. Nobody understands what happened to her. None of us would have dreamed that she would marry so young or drop out of college and have a baby or convert or be part of any of what’s happened. She’s just not the same person at all.”

Image Credit: John Clarke Russ for




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