Says Ramadan is a time of forgiveness, but most victims and survivors do not forgive
Ramadan is a time of forgiveness and reconciliation, "a month in which hearts change," the Boston Marathon bomber told a court Wednesday before formally receiving the death sentence for the 2013 act of terrorism that claimed three lives and impacted countless others.
"I would like to begin in the name of Allah, the exalted and glorious, the most gracious, the most merciful, ‘Allah’ among the most beautiful names. Any act that does not begin in the name of God is separate from goodness," Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev began when US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole gave him a chance to speak.
In the first time he has spoken publicly since his arrest for the act of terrorism, Tsarnaev admitted to planting two bombs along with his older brother Tamerlan, and apologized to victims and survivors.
"If there is any lingering doubt, I did it along with my brother," he said. "I ask Allah to have mercy on me, my brother and my family."
Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother, who was killed during the ensuing police manhunt, set off their homemade bombs to become martyrs to the cause of jihad. They also sought to punish Americans for the deaths of Muslims overseas.
Tsarnaev, 21, speaking in a low voice, did not turn to face victims or relatives in court. He asked Allah to help his victims.
O’Toole formally sentenced Tsarnaev to death, a decision already made by a federal jury.
"Whenever your name is mentioned, what will be remembered is the evil you did," O’Toole told the condemned man. "What will be remembered is you murdered and maimed innocent people."
Tsarnaev’s statement, at the John J. Moakley United States Courthouse, was peppered with references to Islam:
I would like to thank those who took time out of their daily lives to come and testify on my behalf despite the pressure. I’d like to thank the jury for their service, and the Court. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not — if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you, so I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.
Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of — if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother — I learned of some of the victims. I learned their names, their faces, their age. And throughout this trial more of those victims were given names, more of those victims had faces, and they had burdened souls.
Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us — to me — I was listening — the suffering that was and the hardship that still is, with strength and with patience and with dignity. Now, Allah says in the Qur’an that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear, and you told us just how unbearable it was, how horrendous it was, this thing I put you through. And I know that you kept that much. I know that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to have related to us everything. I also wish that far more people had a chance to get up there, but I took them from you.
Now, I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done. Irreparable damage.
Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah. And I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Qur’an that with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.
I ask Allah to have mercy upon me and my brother and my family. I ask Allah to bestow his mercy upon those present here today. And Allah knows best those deserving of his mercy. And I ask Allah to have mercy upon the ummah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Amin. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
Two women and an 8-year-old boy were killed and more than 260 other people were injured. The blasts left 17 people amputees. A fourth person, an MIT police officer, was killed during the hunt for the Tsarnaevs.
The court heard from survivors, and their messages ranged from venting emotions to expressing forgiveness. The hearing had added resonance in light of the Charleston, S.C., church shooting last Wednesday in which nine people were shot to death. Many of the victims’ family members, facing the alleged shooter in a court hearing Friday, offered their forgiveness.