Zubeidat Tsarnaev–A Modern Day Ma Barker?

April 29th, 2013

Each day, we’re learning more about the Boston Marathon bombing.  One of the most intriguing revelations is the possible role played by the bombers’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev.

Evidently, the mother is not a stranger to either the FBI or the criminal justice system. According to media reports, Russian intelligence officials monitoring the calls of the older son, Tamerlan, overheard a conversation between the bomber and his mother where jihad was discussed and encouraged.  She is also the subject of another monitored call between herself and an individual in southern Russia who is currently under FBI investigation.  If that’s not enough, she jumped bail on a shoplifting charge in Boston and fled the country. In other words, she’s already a wanted woman in her own right.

With Mother’s Day in just a couple of weeks, it’s rather disconcerting to find the most prominent mother being discussed in all media forums is a woman possibly connected to a terrorist plot involving her own children.

If Mrs. Tsarnaev is found to be either directly involved or at least the inspiration for the horrible terrorist acts committed by her children, sadly, she won’t be the first mother in American history to find her mug on a Most Wanted poster.

America’s most famous criminal mom is Kate “Ma” Barker, the “matriarch” (which in her case seems like too nice a word) of the Barker-Karpis gang which terrorized the 1930’s Midwest with a crime spree of robbery and murder. Historians remain torn about whether or not “Ma” was the mastermind of her four sons criminal enterprises or merely an accessory to their crimes.  Either way, she paid the price of her exploits, dying in a gun battle with FBI agents in Florida in 1935.

Sadly, Ma Barker isn’t the only mother associated with high profile crime.

On July 7, 1865, Mary Surratt was hanged for her alleged participation in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Mrs. Surratt’s actual involvement is still debated by historians.  Some believe she actively participated in John Wilkes Booth’s plot to kill Lincoln, while others think she knew of the plot but didn’t directly participate.  What is known is that when officers arrested her at her boardinghouse in Washington, D.C., several days after Lincoln’s death, the officers in charge were most interested in finding her son, John, a Confederate courier who had plotted with Booth to kidnap Lincoln several months before Lincoln’s murder.  While Mrs. Surratt found herself the subject of prosecution by a Military Tribunal, young John remained hidden in Canada throughout  her trial and execution.  Years later, John was captured in Europe and returned to the United States where he was tried and acquitted of complicity in Lincoln’s death. It was an ironic ending for both mother and son given that it was John’s relationship with Booth that connected the family to the crime in the first place.

So what is Zubeidat Tsarnaev’s involvement in the bombing of the Boston Marathon?  We’re just beginning to learn the answer to that question. If facts prove her to be at the center of the terrorist act, we shouldn’t be completely surprised.

Sadly, we’ve seen this movie before.