zubeidat tsarnaevaWhen she learned of the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaeva's mother, Zubeidat, called her older son to make sure he was okay. He responded casually, laughing, and said, "Mama, why are you worrying?" Fast-forward to just before the shootout that left Tamerlan with fatal injuries. Zubeidat says Tamerlan called her and uttered his last words: "The police, they have started shooting at us, they are chasing us. ... Mama, I love you." Then, the phone went silent.

It's not really much of a surprise the two exchanged these phone calls, or that in the midst of chaos and violence, Tamerlan went out of his way to make a phone call to Zubeidat. The mother and son were reportedly very close. But should that in itself make us more sympathetic about him? Think differently about who he really was?

Definitely not.

The facts surrounding just why they may have been so close, perhaps even a bit co-dependent, are coming to light, and none of it is exactly heartening to hear. Apparently, they were on the same side of a family divide when they both embraced a stricter version of Islam. Zubeidat says she encouraged Tamerlan to embrace Islam during a period of personal turmoil that included a domestic violence arrest and the murder of a close friend. Grrreat.

I'm sure some will hear Zubeidat's story about her last phone call with her son and find it humanizing in a way. What kind of sociopathic murderer would reach out to his mommy just before getting caught up in a shootout with cops?

But let's be honest with ourselves. There are plenty of psychologically unstable murderous people who happen to be exceptionally tight with their moms. (Hello, Norman Bates?!) I'm sure there are killers who could be described as "family-oriented." That said, if Zubeidat is hoping this icky anecdote will give anyone warm and fuzzy feelings about her son, she's sadly mistaken.

What do you think about Tamerlan Tsarnaeva's last words to his mother? Does it make you feel differently about him?


Image via Natick Police Dept.