Tsarnaev On Rolling Stone Cover

1:31 PM, Jul 17, 2013   |    comments
Photo: Rolling Stone via USA Today.
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Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is portrayed in an instantly controversial cover story in Rolling Stone as a charming kid with a bright future who became a monster, the magazine says.

The article, in an edition that features a Bob Dylan-style photo of the 19-year-old Tsarnaev on the cover, was drawn from interviews with childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, the magazine says.

It has stirred a strong reaction on Rolling Stone's Facebook page. Rolling Stone is also trending on Twitter in the Boston New England area.

The article by contributing editor Janet Reitman is titled "The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster."

Among the findings:

• FBI negotiators were able to get a wounded Tsarnaev to surrender while huddled in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown, Mass., home by relaying a plea from his former wrestling coach to give up.

• In the months leading up to the bombings, Dzhokhar was increasingly isolated, with his parents away and his relations with two sisters strained. When a friend asked to meet Dzhokhar's 27-year-old brother Tamerlan, the suspected mastermind of the Boston Marathon attack, the younger brother said, "No, you don't want to meet him."

• Around 2008, his older brother Tamerlan confided to his mother that he felt like "two people" were inside of him. A friend had suggested to her that he might need a psychiatrist, but his mother instead pushed Tamerlan deeper into Islam in hopes it would cure his inner demons and growing mental instability.

• Dzhokhar, also known as Jahar, never spoke about the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, but did slip once and told a high school friend he thought the attacks could be justified. He pointed to U.S. policies toward Muslim countries and U.S. drone strikes.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died during a shootout with police three days after the April 15 bombings that killed three people and injured over 200 others.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of a federal indictment in connection with the bombings. He was being held at a prison medical facility outside Boston.

The article will be published Friday, but news of the cover treatment and glam photo quickly spread on Twitter and Facebook, prompting some sharp criticism.

Rolling Stone's Facebook page was flooded with comments, most of them negative.

A sampling:

• "I think it's wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone? TIME gave Charles Manson the cover and all the magazines carried pictures of the Columbine shooters on the covers, too. Don't make martyrs out of these people."

• "Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover"

• "The best example yet of why Facebook needs a 'dislike' button."

• "Look at these comments... what an awful mentality this country has... too brainwashed to read read the article or have an intelligent conversation regarding both sides of the story... I wonder how many of you would like to see him dead on the cover of THIS magazine without a trial???"

• "Is this for real?! Why don't the VICTIMS get the cover instead? It's sick that no one cares that people died, real people with lives and families, they just care about whatever will sell"

• "I hope not a single person from Boston or New England ever buys your magazine again. the most copies. Want to see true terrorism? Look to the media."

• "I am so disappointed with Rolling Stone Magazine. I have enjoyed your magazine up until now. I will no longer buy/read the mag. You have just made him a "rock star". How could you?"

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