With Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev buried in a Virginia cemetery, the question of what to do with his body is answered. Yet, for more than a week, it was the subject of heated public debate. Several online polls showed most Internet readers thought Tsarnaev’s body should have been barred from interment in the United States.

A look at some of the online comments revealed a visceral and understandable hatred for Tsarnaev. Some thought he should be dumped in the ocean, like bin Laden’s body. Others advocated particularly anti-Islamic ideas. A few voices called for him to be simply buried and forgotten.

The case of Tsarnaev raises intriguing questions. What should be done with the bodies of mass murderers? Why are they such a point of contentious debate? Would there have been a similar outcry if Tsarnaev self-identified as Sovereign Citizen or Neo-Nazi? Here isa piece I wrote for Defense Media Network looking at some of these and other questions.

Not in My Graveyard – The Problem with Dead Terrorists

Tamerlan Tsarnaev is rotting in a grave in Virginia, and state residents aren’t happy about it. His death cheated the country of its chance to exact judicial revenge for the Boston Marathon bombings, and the problem of burying Tamerlan Tsarnaev became a lightning rod for the national angst over a senseless and terrible attack.

For weeks, Tsarnaev’s body was radioactive – no one wanted to touch it, either out of disdain or perhaps a fear that their character would be polluted in the public eye by mere association with the dead terrorist. Tsarnaev’s wife, Katherine Russell, refused to claim the body and eventually released it to Ruslan Tsarni, the bombers’ uncle. With nearly all doors shut to Tsarni, Peter Stefan, owner of the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, Mass., agreed to prepare the body for burial. He washed and covered the corpse according to Muslim tradition, though he was publicly criticized, also becoming a target for protest.

While Tsarnaev’s body is biologically no different than road kill, his burial nevertheless drew a heated debate. There were a few forces at work here…These kinds of issues are not unique to the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. In fact, they are common whenever terrorists are caught and killed.

Read the full article.

Justin Hienz is Editor for Security Debrief. He blogs primarily on radicalization, aviation security, religious and Middle Eastern affairs, and communications. Read More