'Disgusting' Facebook group called 'Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent' attracts more than 11,000 fans worldwide

  • Conspiracy junkies believe double-amputee veteran pretended to be marathon spectator whose legs were blown off
  • Growing movement accuses the U.S. government and a private security company of staging the April 15 massacre
  • Grainy news footage and off-angle photos are evidence for claiming the Tsarnaev brothers surrendered but were killed by police
  • One theory holds that 'two men in drag planted the bombs'

They number in the thousands, and they believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has been charged with bombing the Boston Marathon, is innocent.

Facebook is the natural place for like-minded contrarians to gather from all corners of the globe, and Action for Justice, an organized contingent of tech-savvy suspicion-slingers, is egging on those who are inclined to doubt the U.S. government's official account of what happened on April 15.

The group is open by invitation only, and yet it's on pace to collect 25,000 adherents by the end of April.

'What a bunch of unbelievable idiots,' a federal agent in Washington, D.C. told MailOnline late Monday. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk about the case.

'These morons will make it much harder for the country to recover from this,' he added. 'I seriously hope ordinary people have their BS-detectors on full throttle.'

The 'Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent' Facebook page has quickly grown to include 11,250 members who offer a mixture of constructive support for the accused Boston bomber and conspiracy theories that paint him as an innocent man

In a dark corner of Facebook, the younger Tsarnaev brother is turning into a mixture of pop icon and Internet martyr, spawning photo campaigns, posters, and a rubber 'cause' bracelet

'These lunatics are clearly in the minority,' Fox News host Andrea Tantaros told MailOnline. 'There is an obvious body of evidence against these brothers. It's disgusting that anyone would choose to ignorantly say otherwise to advance a preposterous conspiracy theory.'

Yet some who have shared their thoughts on the group's Facebook wall believe Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar's elder brother who died in a shootout with police, believe authorities took him into custody while he was alive, naked, handcuffed and walking under his own power.

A leaked autopsy photo showed him with a gaping wound in his torso, caused, police reported, when Dzhokhar ran him over with a carjacked Mercedes.

The same skeptics argue that Dzhokhar still had his backpack slung over his shoulder as he calmly walked away from the bomb blasts in Copley Square.

Conventional thinking would hold that the 19-year-old terror suspect's left arm is bent and extended backward, giving the illusion of a large object on his back. 'Totally Photoshopped,' read the response to that argument from one online believer.

Conspiracy theorists argue on Facebook that the younger Tsarnaev brother shed his blood only when police shot him - and not inside the boat where he was found

College kids: Young activists make up much of the Facebook page's fans, and many are filing petitions and taking other symbolic actions to protest what they see as a controlling government railroading an innocent Muslim man

Others believe the iconic image of Jeff Bauman in a wheelchair, bloodied with his femur protruding through what was left of his thigh, actually shows double-amputee soldier Nick Vogt, who survived an encounter with an IED in Afghanistan a few years after his graduation from the U.S. military Academy at West Point.

Bauman and Vogt share certain resemblances, and on that basis the conspiracy theorists conclude they are one and the same, with Vogt playing the role of volunteer 'victim,' complete with a bottle of fake blood discarded at his feet.

'Was Nick Vogt acting?' one asked in a note attached to a photo too grisly to show.

'You think that's enough blood for 2 lost legs?' came a reply. 'When they took another photo he was lying on the ground, pretending he was badly injured.'

'I want to believe it's real,' chimed in a third, 'but damn, that blood just looks like someone spilled a can of red paint.'

Neither Vogt nor his family has dignified the accusation with a response, and neither has the U.S. Army, the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security.

One of the most frequent conspiracy theories accuses the government of faking the horrific injuries of Jeff Bauman by using double-amputee veteran Nick Vogt as a stand-in

That's reason enough to doubt them, the most ardent believers insist, just as a vocal minority of Americans screamed after 9/11 that a series of controlled explosions, not a pair of jet aircraft, brought down New York's twin towers. The government, the theme goes, can't be trusted.

Indeed, the most common thread is an anti-government conspiracy that rivals anything the so-called 9/11 'truther' movement ever dreamed up.

Vocal fans of the 'Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is Innocent' Facebook group have claimed that neither Tsarnaev brother was responsible for the Boston bombing. Instead, they say, a government-funded group of mercenaries from a private company staged the event and framed the Chechen pair.

The company they accuse, Craft International, trains military and police teams through tactical and combat scenarios. Its founder, retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, wrote the best-selling book American Sniper and recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history.

He was killed in February at a Texas gun range, by a fellow veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A man who seemed to be a security guard at the scene of the Boston bombings wore a hat with an emblem that resembles that of private security firm Craft International. This, conspiracy theorists claim, shows the company was present on April 15. hey also claim the man and his companion, not the Tsarnaevs, planted the bombs

The basis for the accusation, like much of what's found on the Facebook group's page, is the thin gruel of JFK-assassination grassy-knoll buzz, but still mesmerizes those who are inclined to believe it. Central is a superficial resemblance between Craft's distinctive logo patch and one seen on a hat belonging to a Boston Marathon security officer in online photos.

MailOnline was unable to find mention on the Facebook group's page of the online store where visitors to the Craft International website can buy the hat. Nor did anyone in the forum suggest that its wearer might have been given the hat as a souvenir after completing the company's training course.

Craft had no comment.

RIchard Miniter, an author who wrote the definitive biography of terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told MailOnline that Craft founder Chris Kyle 'was killed by one psychopath and now his memory is abused by another band of psychos.'

'These people need to use a thicker brand of tinfoil for their hats,' he said. 'The crazy mind waves are still getting in.'

The organization behind the amplified agora of assorted Boston bombing conspiracy theorists is Action For Justice, which goes by the initials AXJ. It's a loosely organized, self-described 'international civil and political rights organization' that organizes disaffected segments of the political left in 16 countries, according to a map on its website.

Most of the organization's activity focuses on the culture clashes and sometimes violent intersections of Europe and the Muslim world. The United States is not noted as one of the group's home bases.

Grassy knoll: Conspiracy theorists claim a backpack worn by a mysterious man in black matched the one recovered at the scene, and that its owner was seen fleeing Copley Square without the bag

But a U.S.-based AXJ website exists, and it's registered to an Ed Vallejo in Valley Village, California. The same man, using the same email address, also registered a web domain for a laundromat in North Hollywood, using the street address of a drapery store.

Vallejo did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

AXJ says it exists 'to publish the Truth that Main Stream Media ( MSM ) will not publish.' That includes the conclusion that an able-bodied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev willingly surrendered from his hiding place in a backyard boat, shedding his blood only after police fired on him.

They base this on photographs that show blood on the outside of the boat, but none on the inside. The photos, however, were shot from an angle that may not show where Tsarnaev was lying during the manhunt that consumed Watertown, Massachusetts.

And, they say, the audio from a YouTube video shot during Dhokhar's final firefight features his voice crying, 'We didn't do it!'

Or, as a commenter conceded, 'it could be something the police are yelling. There's too much noise.'

Does this news footage show the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev? Believers in a government frame-up job say so, claiming that the elder brother was taken into custody alive, naked and walking under his own power - not bloodied, lacerated, and run over by his fleeing younger brother, as official reports show

True believer: The Facebook page is full of comments like this one, from someone inclined to distrust official accounts offered by police and reporters

Other theories are as numerous as the people offering them, many of them university-age students. One suggested that another backpack, not Dzhokhar's, exploded near the marathon's finish line. Her rationale was that a backpack seen on a security guard - the same man accused of being on Craft International's payroll - resembled the shredded remains of the one at the bombing scene.

'How convenient,' one commented offered, with another pointing out in pictures the similarity between the man who carried that backpack and a Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

Others lean on conservative Internet broadcast host Glenn Beck and radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, reinforcing their diagnoses of government cover-ups and 'false flag' operations.

But most of them, the House of Saud aside, believe that the Tsarnaevs drew the short end of the criminal-justice straw because of their Islamic faith - a dramatic departure from the more mainstream view that it was that believe in Islam that drove them to kill.

'Loads of children killed in Gaza,' one believer wrote, 'and no one cares. One kid dies in Boston, and it's OHMIGOD. Can you say "Islamophobia"?'

'Two men in drag planted the bombs ... look closely!' To the untrained eye, even a purse in a crowd can look like a bomber's backpack

Many of the macabre photographic tributes to Dhokhar feature Arabic writing or Quran verses. Visitors from Gaza, Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates left well-wishes, all invoking the Muslim god Allah.

This may leave some readers of the group's Facebook wall - those who can see it - with the impression that defending the Muslim faith requires defending Dzhokhar.

Or vice-versa.

Tantaros, who hosts a popular conservative radio show in addition to co-hosting Fox News's The Five, insisted that the search for clues to the bombings begins and ends with the Tsarnaevs' religion.

'The more people choose to defend [him] and distract attention from radical Islam - the clear root of this attack - the more in danger we are as a nation,' she said.

A Facebook spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the company will allow the 'Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent' to remain.

A pro-Muslim, anti-Israel posture is seen in many of the posts, fueling a narrative that Islam was the cause of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's arrest, not the cause of his alleged crime

Political commentator Glenn Beck (L) said Monday that the federal government quickly moved to deport a third conspirator, a Saudi man. Radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (R) tweeted that official explanation of the Boston bombings 'stinks to high heaven,' and suggested it was a 'false flag' attack

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