Parents of marathon bombing suspects deny sons’ involvement

Anzor Tsarnaev (L) and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, parents of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev -- the two men suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings, take part in a news conference in Makhachkala April 25, 2013. Credit: Reuters
Anzor Tsarnaev (L) and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, parents of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — the two men suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings, take part in a news conference in Makhachkala April 25, 2013. Credit: Reuters

The parents of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects continued to fiercely deny to reporters over the weekend that their sons were involved in the deadly blasts.

“It’s all lies and hypocrisy,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told The Associated Press. “I’m sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I’ve never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism.”

On Saturday, the AP reported that Russian officials secretly recorded a 2011 phone call between Tsarnaeva and her older son, Tamerlan, in which they “vaguely discussed” jihad. Authorities in the U.S. learned of the call within the last few days.

Jihad can refer to a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty, or to a Muslim’s personal struggle in devotion to the faith.

Tsarnaeva and the suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, have retreated to a village in southern Russia to shelter from the spotlight and abandoned plans for now to travel to the United States.

Speaking in the garden of a large house, Anzor Tsarnaev told Reuters he believed he would not be allowed to see his surviving son Dzhokhar, who was captured and has been charged in connection with the April 15 bomb blasts that killed three people and wounded 264.

“Unfortunately I can’t help my child in any way. I am in touch with Dzhokhar’s and my own lawyers. They told me they would let me know (what to do),” Tsarnaev said in an interview in the village where he relocated with the suspects’ mother.

He agreed to the face-to-face meeting on condition that the village’s location in the North Caucasus, a string of mainly Muslim provinces in southern Russia, not be disclosed.

“I am not going back to the United States. For now I am here. I am ill,” said Tsarnaev, pacing nervously in the garden at sunset in the quiet village set in rolling hills and surrounded by cow pastures.

His face gaunt and tired, Tsarnaev said he suffered from high blood pressure and a heart condition.

Tsarnaev had said in the North Caucasus province of Dagestan on Thursday that he planned to travel to the United States to see Dzhokhar and bury his elder son, Tamerlan, who was killed during a manhunt four days after the bombings.

In Sunday’s interview he said he had decided to move away from the family home in Dagestan to the new location because he wanted to keep a low profile.

Dressed in a black shirt and black trousers, he passionately defended his sons’ innocence, saying they had nothing to do with Islamist extremists.

“I feel hopeless. We are simple people. We are trying to understand. We are attacked from all sides,” he said, clutching his head in despair.

“I don’t know whether I should talk or stay silent. I don’t want to harm my child…. We are used to all sorts of things here but we didn’t expect this from the United States.”

He and other members of the family believe a man shown on television being led naked into a police car the night of the shootout was Tamerlan, and that the blurry footage, still widely available on YouTube, proves Tamerlan was captured alive. Boston police say Tamerlan was killed in a shootout, and the man seen being led into the car was a bystander who was briefly detained.

Anzor Tsarnaev said he raised the issue with U.S. officials who visited him earlier in the week in his home in Dagestan.

“I asked them: ‘I saw my child alive, he was being put into a police vehicle alive and healthy. How come media said he was killed?’ They were shocked themselves,” the father said.

CAUCASUS ROOTS

The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens who lived in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan and in Dagestan before emigrating to the United States with their children. The parents returned to Dagestan two years ago, and Tamerlan spent the first half of 2012 there.

The suspects’ mother, Zubeidat, was with Anzor Tsarnaev in the village but did not wish to speak.

“She is ill, she is shocked, she is depressed. She lost her children,” Tsarnaev said. The couple are divorced but have stayed together.

Although the Tsarnaev brothers have roots in Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya, neither had spent much time there until Tamerlan returned to Dagestan last year for six months.

During his interview, Anzor Tsarnaev denied Tamerlan had any contact with militants during his stay, painting an idyllic picture of his son’s visit to his ancestral homeland.

“When he came to stay here, he was a good boy. He read books, (Leo) Tolstoy, (Alexandre) Dumas and thick English language books. He would wake up late and read all day, late into the night,” he said.

“Sometimes we went to the mosque. We went to see our relatives, in Dagestan, in Chechnya. We visited a lot of households, it was a nice atmosphere.”

Tsarnaev said he had to force his son to return to the United States to complete his U.S. citizenship application after Tamerlan tried to convince his family to allow him to stay in Dagestan for good.

“I told him: ‘No, you have to go back to obtain your U.S. citizenship’. I forced him to go back. I thought it was the right thing to do. I shouldn’t have done that,” he said with a pained expression on his face.

The father said he had no hope that Tamerlan’s body would be released by the U.S. authorities to be buried in his homeland.

“They won’t give us his body,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion. “We wont be able to bury him in our land.”

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Local

Muslim leaders welcome NYPD surveillance changes with degree…

Leaders and advocates praise the NYPD's move to shut down a unit tied to its Muslim surveillance program but say there's more left to do.

Local

PHOTOS: More than $12 million in heroin, crystal…

Authorities seized more than 44 pounds of heroin and 17 pounds of crystal meth from two stash houses this week during a Manhattan drug bust.

Local

How to donate during the blood drive at…

The Metro-North Railroad and New York Blood Center are hosting a blood drive at Grand Central Terminal Thursday.

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

Masahiro Tanaka dominates Cubs over eight shutout innings

Masahiro Tanaka certainly had no-hit caliber stuff Wednesday as he allowed just two bunt singles.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NFL

Jets make Chris Johnson signing official

The Jets got their big-play threat as running back Chris Johnson signed a multi-year contract with the team on Wednesday.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.

Wellbeing

Cognitive skills begin to drop at age 24

But the news isn't all that bad.

Career

How to get a job at a startup:…

We talked to Tarek Pertew, one of the co-founders behind Uncubed, about how to get your dream job at a startup.

Parenting

The 'smartest' summer camps across the country

See a list of summer camps across the country that emphasis learning, while still being fun.