Mother of bomb suspect says FBI contacted son after bombing
By ARSEN MOLLAYEV Associated Press
MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) - The parents of Tamerlan
Tsarnaev insisted Sunday that he came to Dagestan and Chechnya last year
to visit relatives and had nothing to do with the militants operating
in the volatile part of Russia, with his father saying he slept a lot of
the time. But the Boston bombing suspect couldn't have been immune to
the attacks that savaged the region during his six-month stay.
Investigators are now focusing on the trip that
Tsarnaev made to Russia in January 2012 that has raised many questions.
His father said his son stayed with him in Makhachkala, the capital of
Dagestan, where the family lived briefly before moving to the U.S. a
decade ago. The father had only recently returned.
"He was here, with me in Makhachkala," Anzor
Tsarnaev told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "He slept
until 3 p.m., and you know, I would ask him: 'Have you come here to
sleep?' He used to go visiting, here and there. He would go to eat
somewhere. Then he would come back and go to bed."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother,
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev - both ethnic Chechens - are accused of setting off
the two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15
that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others. Three days
later, Tamerlan died in a shootout with police, while his brother was
later captured alive but wounded.
No evidence has emerged since to link Tamerlan
Tsarnaev to militant groups in Russia's Caucasus. On Sunday, the
Caucasus Emirate, which Russia and the U.S. consider a terrorist
organization, denied involvement in the Boston attack.
A woman who works in a small shop opposite
Tsarnaev's apartment building said she only saw his son during the
course of one month last summer. She described him as a dandy.
"He dressed in a very refined way," Madina
Abdullaeva said. "His boots were the same color as his clothes. They
were summer boots, light, with little holes punched in the leather."
Anzor Tsarnaev said they also traveled to neighboring Chechnya.
"He went with me twice, to see my uncles and aunts. I have lots of them," the father said.
He said they also visited one of his daughters, who
lives in the Chechen town of Urus-Martan with her husband. His
son-in-law's brothers all work in the police force under Chechen leader
Ramzan Kadyrov, he said.
Moscow has given Kadyrov a free hand to stabilize
Chechnya following two wars between federal troops and Chechen
separatists beginning in 1994, and his feared police and security forces
have been accused of rampant rights abuses.
What began in Chechnya as a fight for independence
has morphed into an Islamic insurgency that has spread throughout
Russia's Caucasus, with the worst of the violence now in Dagestan.
In February, 2012, shortly after Tamerlan
Tsarnaev's arrival in Dagestan, a four-day operation to wipe out several
militant bands in Chechnya and Dagestan left 17 police and at least 20
militants dead. In May, two car bombs shook Makhachkala, killing at
least 13 people and wounding about 130 more. Other bombings and
shootings targeting police and other officials took place nearly daily.
The Caucasus Emirate said Sunday that its mujahedin are not fighting with the U.S.
"We are at war with Russia, which is not only
responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for heinous
crimes against Muslims," it said in a statement on the Kavkaz Center
The group suggested that Russia's secret services would have had a greater interest in carrying out the attack in Boston.
Despite the violence in Dagestan, Anzor Tsarnaev
said Sunday that his son did not want to leave and had thoughts on how
he could go into business. But the father said he encouraged him to go
back to the U.S. and try to get citizenship. Tamerlan Tsarnaev returned
to the U.S. in July.
His mother said that he was questioned upon arrival at New York's airport.
"And he told me on the phone, 'imagine, mama, they
were asking me such interesting questions as if I were some strange and
scary man: Where did you go? What did you do there?'" Zubeidat Tsarnaeva
recalled her son telling her at the time.
When the two ethnic Chechen suspects were
identified, the FBI said it reviewed its records and found that in early
2011, a foreign government - which law enforcement officials confirmed
was Russia - had asked for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI
said it was told that Tsarnaev was a "follower of radical Islam" and was
preparing to travel to this foreign country to join unspecified
The FBI said that it responded by interviewing Tsarnaev and family members, but found no terrorism activity.
Both parents insist that the FBI continued to monitor Tamerlan Tsarnaev and that both of their sons were set up.
Their mother went so far on Sunday to claim that
the FBI had contacted her elder son after the deadly bombs exploded at
the marathon. If true, it would be the first indication that the FBI
considered him a suspect before Boston descended into violence on
The FBI declined to comment publicly Sunday.
The mother's claim could not be independently
confirmed, and she has made statements in the past that appeared to show
a lack of full understanding of what occurred in Boston.
Investigators released photos and video of the two
Tsarnaev brothers on Thursday afternoon, but at that point their
identities were not known. By late that night, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was
Tsarnaeva said her elder son told her by telephone
that the FBI had called to inform him that they considered him a suspect
and he should come in for questioning.
She said her son refused. "I told them, what do you
suspect me of?" Tsarnaeva quoted her son as saying. "This is your
problem and if you need me you should come to where I am."
He then told her he was going to drive his younger
brother to the university, she said, speaking by telephone from
Chechnya. Tsarnaeva claimed that her son later called his wife to tell
her they were being chased and fired upon.
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