CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Amid the pain and chaos in Boston, these facts seem to be emerging:
Two brothers -- Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, ages 26 and 19 -- were born in the Russian province of Chechnya, where Islamic militants waged gory resistance to Moscow rule. Their family moved to nearby provinces, then came to America and were granted asylum as refugees. The father later returned to Russia.
The older brother studied engineering at a Massachusetts community college, but dropped out to train as a boxer. He fought in a 2009 Golden Gloves event in Salt Lake City, but lost in the first round. He posted on a social media site: "I don't have a single American friend. I don't understand them."
The younger brother worked as a lifeguard at a Harvard University pool and attended a Cambridge high school, where classmates and teachers described him as friendly and caring. "He was so grateful to be here," a teacher said. He was "a lovely, lovely kid."
Police think the brothers created homemade bombs from pressure cookers, adding nails and BBs to kill as many bystanders as possible. When the devices exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, they killed an 8-year-old boy, a Chinese student and a young woman -- and wounded more than 100 others.
After their identities were broadcast, the brothers allegedly fled to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and shot a campus officer to death in his car. Then they hijacked another car and used the driver's ATM card to get money. Surrounded by police, they shot and wounded another officer. The older brother apparently menaced officers with suicide explosives, but was killed by gunfire. The younger brother fled.
Although the brothers were Muslims, authorities and relatives alike say they had no connection to Islamic terrorism. An uncle said they were "losers" who hated others "who were able to settle themselves." He said trying to link the bombing "with religion, with Islam, it's a fraud, it's a fake." However, the uncle said "somebody radicalized them," implying that they had turned militant.
The Washington Post said the Chechnyan brothers felt "old resentments that appear to have mutated into radical Islamic violence." The paper said the older brother "appeared increasingly drawn to radical Islam. On a YouTube channel, he shared videos of lectures from a radical Islamic cleric. In one, voices can be heard singing as bombs explode."
Whatever caused the Boston tragedy, it's important for authorities to learn why the pair conspired to massacre defenseless spectators. Clear answers are needed. Pinpointing their motive is crucial in the struggle to protect Americans going about their daily lives.
The older brother reportedly told his uncle he was devoting his life to "God's business." If the bombing turns out to be faith-based, remember that it's unfair to blame other Muslims for the attack -- just as it's unfair to blame other Christians when a few commit abortion clinic murders.