Documents obtained by the L.A. Times show that Tamerlan Tsarnaev sought to legally change his name months before the Boston Marathon bombing.
Tsarnaev, who was shot dead by law enforcement days after the bombing, applied in January 2013 to change his name to "Muaz," after Emir Muaz, a famous rebel fighter in Russia's Dagestan republic. The Times reports that "Muaz" was also a nickname given to Tsarnaev by rebels during his visit to the region in 2012.
According to the newspaper, when asked in the application to explain the reason for his name change:
Tsarnaev described the decision in political terms, according to a federal law enforcement official close to the Boston bombing case. "He said, 'The Russian people have been terrorizing my home country for all these years.' This is why he needed to come back to America and help," the official said.
Defense attorneys for his younger brother, Dzhokhar, have argued that the older brother's anger toward the U.S. was sparked by attempts by law enforcement to recruit him as an informant.