Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Social media support for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spreads on social media sites

'Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent': Facebook page attracts over 12,000 'fans', as conspiracy theorists and teenage girls send the #FreeJahar Twitter and Instagram hashtag viral

This image provided by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center shows Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, identified by the FBI as suspect number 2, in the Boston Marathon bombings
This image provided by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center shows Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, identified by the FBI as suspect number 2, in the Boston Marathon bombings
This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)
In this undated photo provided by Robin Young, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, poses for a photo after graduating from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Tsarnaev has been identified as the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings. Two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left one of them dead and another still at large Friday, April 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Robin Young)
BOSTON - APRIL 19: A few of the estimated 200 people who poured onto Hemingway Street in the Fenway neighborhood to celebrate after the announcement earlier of the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect celebrate April 19, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON - APRIL 19: A few of the estimated 200 people who poured onto Hemingway Street in the Fenway neighborhood to celebrate after the announcement earlier of the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect celebrate April 19, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON - APRIL 19: An the estimated 200 people pour onto Hemingway Street in the Fenway neighborhood to celebrate after the announcement earlier of the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect celebrate April 19, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts
A police officer and a woman in Boston react to news of the arrest of one of the marathon bombing suspects, Friday, April 19, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 4: Tamerlan Tsamaev (L) fights Lamar Fenner (R) during the 201-pound division boxing match during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After a car chase and shoot out with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police early morning April 19, and a manhunt is underway for his brother and second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. (Photo by Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 4: Tamerlan Tsamaev waits for a decision in the 201-pound division boxing match during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After a car chase and shoot out with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police early morning April 19, and a manhunt is underway for his brother and second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. (Photo by Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 4: Tamerlan Tsamaev (R) and Lamar Fenner (L) stand during a decision in the 201-pound division boxing match during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After a car chase and shoot out with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police early morning April 19, and a manhunt is underway for his brother and second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. (Photo by Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)
A house where Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, were lived in before leaving for Dagestan, in a small Kyrgyz city Tokmok east of the country's capital of Bishkek, on Friday, April 20, 2013. The Tsarnaev family arrived in the United States, seeking refuge from strife in their homeland. The family had moved from Kyrgyzstan to Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. (AP Photo/Abylay Saralayev)
This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows second from right, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 1 and walking behind him, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 2 in the Boston Marathon bombings by law enforcement. This image was taken approximately 10-20 minutes before the blast. (AP Photo/Bob Leonard)
A police officer and a woman react to news of the arrest of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Friday, April 19, 2013, in Boston. Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured in Watertown, Mass. The 19-year-old college student wanted in the bombings was taken into custody Friday evening after a manhunt that left the city virtually paralyzed and his older brother and accomplice dead. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A Facebook page claiming the man charged with the Boston Marathon bombings is innocent has attracted over 12,000 "fans", as the Twitter and Instagram hashtag “#FreeJahar” goes viral, driven by a mix of conspiracy theorists and teenage girls.

Despite the fact Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has seemingly admitted his involvement in the blasts by reportedly naming his brother as the “driving force” behind the attacks and claiming the pair worked independently of any terrorist network, a large group of people are claiming the 19-year-old was set up.

 

Although the "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent" Facebook page is invitation-only and claims to “screen” all members before they are allowed to join, it has already attracted well over 12,000 "fans".

 

The page has also claimed to be behind an alleged habeas corpus action it says it has presented to a Boston court. The writ apparently centres on a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the fact the Facebook users consider him to be in a “serious medical condition and in no way mentally capable of waiving any Constitutional rights including his right to a fair hearing”.

 

Tsarnaev is said to be heavily sedated and breathing through a ventilator, although US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler found him to be “alert, mentally competent and lucid” enough to answer preliminary questions on the Boston bombings.

 

The social media support for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has spread on to Twitter and Instagram, with the hashtag “#FreeJahar” going viral.

 

Mirroring the "crowdsourcing" activity that saw Reddit users set up the "Find Boston Bombers" sub-forum in the wake of the attacks, a large number of conspiracy theorists are using the hashtag to share photographs and unsubstantiated hypotheses on last week’s events. Authorities expressed great concern at the time that social media was being used to conduct a witch-hunt.

 

Twitter user @Camila_Jimenez shared photographs claiming the bag Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was shown carrying in CCTV footage taken before the bombings did not match that which was found on the ground in the aftermath of the blasts, while @J_Tsarsupport posted a graphic photograph showing the extreme injuries suffered by one living blast victim and claiming it would have been almost impossible for somebody to survive with these wounds, let alone remain conscious.

 

Twitter users are currently posting #FreeJahar messages at a rate of around two per minute, many of them dealing with what they claim are “inconsistencies” surrounding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest, although the hashtag is increasingly being used to berate users for perceived insensitivity surrounding the theories and by internet "trolls" posting mocking or deliberately off-topic messages.

 

As well as the conspiracy theorists, a number of teenage girls have used Twitter and Instagram to share images of themselves wearing bracelets bearing Tsarnaev’s reported nickname "Jahar" and writing messages proclaiming his innocence on their bodies.

 

On Twitter, user @sputnik51210 posted a message: "Prayers and love to @j_tsar @xxjungaxx @TroyCrossley #FreeJahar im telling everyone. Y'all are some badass friends" along with a photograph of a homemade 'Free Jahar' bracelet.

 

Meanwhile on Instagram, user 'freejaharxo' posted "Pray for his freedom! #FreeJahar #Jahar #Dzokhar #Freedom" along with a photograph, seemingly of a young girl's arm with smiley face and love heart symbols and the words 'Free Jahar' scrawled in ink marker pen.

 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill three people and injured more than 200 – a crime that potentially carries the death penalty.

 

He has also been charged with one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death, according to US Attorney General, Eric Holder.

 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is said to be unable to speak after suffering a throat wound, reportedly the result of a failed suicide attempt at the climax of his dramatic arrest on Friday night, when he was found hiding under a tarpaulin covering a blood-stained boat parked on a trailer in a residential garden.

 

He was said to be so weak from blood loss at the time that officers were able to demand he pull up his top to show he wasn’t wearing an explosive vest and to open his hands to prove he wasn’t concealing a weapon or a detonator.

 

Tsarnaev was subsequently rushed to hospital where he was said to be in a serious condition after suffering severe injuries and major blood loss.

 

Unconfirmed reports suggested Tsarnaev may have been hit once or twice by police bullets the previous evening during the fire-fight in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.

 

On Sunday police confirmed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev is likely to have died after his younger brother drove a stolen SUV at police officers who were in the process of arresting the 26-year-old.

 

Over the weekend, Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the two suspects, said he would fly from Dagestan to the US this week to seek “justice and truth.” Anzor Tsarnaev has publically stated that he believes his sons were set up.

 

His wife reportedly told the Associated Press news agency that Anzor would fly to Boston some time today and that the family wished to take the elder Tsarnaev’s body home to be buried.

 

Tamerlan visited Dagestan early last year, reportedly evading the attention of the FBI, which had previously questioned him but failed to spot his trip due to a spelling mistake in his name, according to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

 

The US authorities are now said to be waiting to speak to Tamerlan’s US-born wife, Katherine Russell.

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