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The last time anyone heard from Erik Weissman was at 8.54pm on September 11, 2011, when he placed a call to Gerry’s Italian Kitchen, in suburban Boston, and ordered three dinners. A home delivery arrived promptly at 9.14pm but no one responded at the door. The restaurant called Weissman’s mobile phone but there was no answer.


It was a Sunday night and Weissman, 31, had been watching a football game between the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys at the apartment of a friend, Brendan Mess, 25, and another friend, Raphael Teken, 37, in a quiet suburban street in Waltham. What happened to these men was macabre. It could prove to have worldwide relevance.

Their bodies were discovered the next afternoon, each in separate rooms, all killed the same way, by having their throats slit from ear to ear. There was also a ritual element: each corpse was strewn with marijuana and cash. Police found $5000 in the apartment, so robbery was not seen as a motive.

A Waltham police investigator recently told America’s ABC network: ”It is the worst bloodbath I have ever seen in a long law enforcement career. There was no forced entry. It was clear that the victims had let the killer in. And their throats were slashed right out of an al-Qaeda training video. The drugs and money on the bodies was very strange.”

The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has announced it is reactivating the Waltham murders. They will be seeking evidence that the killings were the work of a psychopath who was also a Muslim fundamentalist. Their target is specific: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber shot dead on April 19.

The murders remain unsolved. No suspect was identified. Suddenly, the trail of evidence, circumstance and reasonable supposition to Tsarnaev is wide and deep.

Investigators now believe Tsarnaev was one of the last people to see Mess alive. The men knew each other well. Tsarnaev had been a frequent visitor to Mess’s apartment. They had attended the same high school. Both were boxers and had sparred together many times. Their friendship at the local gym was well known.

But friction had come between them over Tsarnaev’s disapproval of Mess’s lifestyle. Certainly Mess, Weissman and Teken had a dark side. Weissman was a bodybuilder who in 2008 had been charged with intent to distribute marijuana. Teken was also probably a drug dealer. Neighbours described him as spending most of his time at home where he received a string of visitors. Mess, a martial arts instructor, was charged with assault in 2010. The large amount of drugs and cash in his apartment indicate links to a drug culture.


The murder scene showed no signs of forced entry and the coroner concluded the killer or killers had known at least one of the victims. The date of the murders was highly symbolic. It was the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington. Tsarnaev had come to espouse the apologist view that the bombings were a CIA set-up to foment war against Muslims. In 2008, he had became a devout Muslim and began attending the Islamic Society of Boston mosque, known for its Islamic victimology and sense of grievance against the West.

Anti-semitism lies at the visceral core of Muslim fundamentalism and the victims were Jewish. At the time of the killings, Tsarnaev was a radical Islamist with a rigid interpretation of Islam and was affronted by Israel.

Tsarnaev did not attend the memorial service for his friend Mess. Soon after the murders he left the country, travelling to Russia. He spent six months among the restive Muslim populations of Dagestan and Chechnya, and linked with two Muslim extremists, William Plotnikov and Makhmud Mansur Nidal, both of whom were killed by Russian security while he was in the country.


The Russian Federal Security Service informed the FBI Tsarnaev had become a radicalised Muslim. The FBI tracked his access to radical Islamic sites. The CIA placed him on its watch list of possible terrorists.

When Tsarnaev returned from Russia last year he wore a long beard, had become a religious zealot, and followed jihadi sites on the internet.

He also had long exhibited a violent temper. In 2007, he assaulted a student who had been dating his younger sister. In 2008, he demanded that his then girlfriend convert to Islam and cover herself with a hijab. In 2009, he was charged with aggravated domestic assault for assaulting a second girlfriend.

He married another woman; neighbours told reporters that shouting was often heard inside their home.


His conduct had become highly zealous. This year he disrupted a sermon at a mosque when the speaker compared the prophet Muhammad to Martin Luther King jnr. He was asked not to return to the mosque.

On April 15, he planted a bomb at the Boston Marathon with the intent to kill and maim as many people as possible, including children. He had made no plans to escape, which suggests a sense of impunity. He had not been expecting to be identified and might have already committed serious crimes with impunity.

On April 18, having been identified, he shot and killed a university police officer and hijacked a car. The next day he attacked pursuing police, firing wildly, and was gunned down. He had become a mean, intolerant, violent man.

The trail back to the bloody apartment at Waltham suggests he might have already been committing murders under the cloak and banner of jihad. He had found a cause that he could use to rationalise his malevolence.
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