Boston bombing: US team quiz parents of suspects

THE parents of Boston bomb suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were questioned by United States investigators in Dagestan yesterday, while a parallel inquiry deepened in Washington about what the FBI already knew about the brothers.
The bomb suspect brothers, at back, were watching in the crowd. Picture: APThe bomb suspect brothers, at back, were watching in the crowd. Picture: AP
The bomb suspect brothers, at back, were watching in the crowd. Picture: AP


A key aim of the team of officials from the US embassy in Moscow was to build a picture of the “radicalisation” of the men, who are believed to be behind two blasts at the Boston marathon ten days ago that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during a shoot-out with police last Thursday night while his 19-year-old brother, who was wounded, was captured almost 24 hours later after a day-long lockdown of the city.

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The investigators, in partnership with the Russian FSB security service, travelled to Dagestan’s capital city Makhachkala to interview Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the father and mother of the two, who have insisted that their sons have been framed.

Questions were likely to have included the purpose of Tamerlan’s six-month visit last year to Dagestan and Chechyna, two hotbeds of Islamic militant insurgency, and the identity of a mysterious Armenian radical known only as Misha, who appears to have exerted a profound influence over Tamerlan in the last years of his life. Another line of inquiry is a timeline of the older brother’s apparent turn towards extremism, including a fascination with conspiracy theories and the websites of Alex Jones, a controversial Texas-based radio presenter famous for accusing the US government of being behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and 2001 terrorist attacks.

According to sources in Dagestan, the meeting with the Tsarnaevs’ parents was “cordial”.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remained in hospital in Boston in “fair” condition yesterday, and who has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction, has reportedly told investigators that the two became radicalised while in Massachusetts. He said they learned about Islam and bombs through websites and magazines.

Neighbours of the Tsarnaev family in Dagestan, however, have said that religious extremism is rife locally, with young men frequently educated by radicals in bomb-making techniques, among other training.

Elmirza Khozhgov, once married to one of the suspects’ sisters, said the character known as Misha entered Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s life about five years ago, prompting a change in his brother-in-law’s character and behaviour.

“I didn’t suspect him or Tamerlan of being connected to terrorist groups but I know they had a lot of conversations about Islam and how Islam was being attacked from outside, from western countries,” he told CNN from Dagestan.

The developments came as a fireworks shop in New Hampshire revealed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought a substantial quantity of explosives in 

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Meanwhile, Congressional hearings continued in Washington yesterday into why the older Tsarnaev fell off the FBI’s radar despite the Russian government sending at least one warning that he was somebody who needed to be watched.

“We’re trying to make sure that all that information that was available was shared. If it wasn’t, there may be somebody who dropped the ball,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the US Senate’s intelligence committee.

Meanwhile, thousands of former colleagues and citizens attended a memorial service in Boston yesterday for police officer Sean Collier, who was shot and killed, allegedly by one of the Tsarnaevs, as he sat in his patrol car last Thursday.