Jack Simpson: Misplaced loyalty



Just when you think nothing else will confirm your belief that we live on a crazy planet, something new turns up. Student friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev decide to inject themselves into one of the most atrocious crimes of the decade.

Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayokov and Robel Phillipos, all 19-year-olds, recognized the picture of Tsarnaev when it was published as a suspect in the bombings in Boston. They decided to help him by concealing and disposing of any evidence found in his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

It apparently did not matter to them that the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line killed three people, injured 260 more and resulted in extensive property damage. Their loyalty to their friend was all important. Charges have been filed. Dias and Azamat are from Kazakhstan. Robel is from Cambridge, Mass. Their cases are pending and final judgment awaits court action.

It is not for us to prejudge them, but we still wonder why three college students might extend loyalty to a friend accused of a horrible crime against innocent people.

In fact, these three suspects were so devoted and supportive of their friend as to expose themselves to vulnerability in a very serious crime that might bring a death penalty.

They may have felt like family and loyalty to family is inviolable. In Dante's "Divina Commedia" people who betray friends are sent to deeper layers of hell than people who betray country.

Most folks probably like the idea of family loyalty, but the person on the receiving end of such loyalty must truly deserve it. Receiving loyalty does not mean you can do no wrong. If you turn killer, the loyalty umbrella should not be expected to protect you.

Circumstances in the marathon bombings seem to indicate a greater need for honesty over loyalty. The choice made by the three suspects is strange indeed and has resulted in their arrests.

The two from Kazakhstan were charged with conspiracy to violate Title 18, United States Code 1519, knowingly destroying, concealing and covering up tangible belongings to Tsarnaev, namely a laptop computer and backpack containing fireworks, with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence the criminal investigation of the marathon bombings in violation of Title 18, United States Code 371.

Suspect Phillipos allegedly willfully made false statements in violation of Title 18, United States Code 1001.

The choice made by the three suspects to be loyal to a friend in spite of the serious danger to public safety ignored the consequences not only for self but for 23,000 runners, owners of shops, restaurants, hotels, the people of Boston, caregivers and safety personnel. They were willing to protect a friend rather than serve the interests of society.

Tsarnaev, by his actions, has not proven himself a person worthy of loyalty not only from college friends but anyone else as well. Anyone bent on killing, injuring, and destroying property with utter disregard for the public safety is a menace to society. Devotion should be earned and deserved. Will he be able to make his case in court? Will his three friends? We shall see.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.