Family ties of the Boston bombers
Family members of the Boston Marathon bombers – brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, killed by police this morning, and Dzhokar, 19, still at large at the time of this writing – were quickly located by both police and the media.
Their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, lives in the Russian city of Makhachkala. He spoke with ABC News as the manhunt for his son Dzhokar was under way, and is apparently a raving lunatic:
The father said he spoke to his sons by phone earlier this week. “We talked about the bombing. I was worried about then,” Anzor Tsarnaev said.
He said his sons reassured him, saying, “Everything is good, Daddy. Everything is very good.”
The elder Tsarnaev insisted that his sons were innocent, but said he would appeal to his son to “surrender peacefully.”
“Give up. Give up. You have a bright future ahead of you. Come home to Russia,” the dad said.
The father warned, however, “If they killed him, then all hell would break loose.”
“If they kill my second child, I will know that it is an inside job, a hit job. The police are to blame,” the father told ABC News. “Someone, some organization is out to get them.”
Other reports have Anzor referring to fugitive killer Dzhokar as “a true angel.”
Details on their mother have not been nailed down as yet. Buzzfeed reported that “Zubeidat K. Tsarnaeva, 45, who shares an address with the two men and could be their mother, was arrested last summer for shoplifting.”
For what it’s worth, the UK Daily Mail treats this as confirmed information about the mother, and says the shoplifting incident involved “$1624 in clothes from Lord and Taylor” – the department store whose security cameras helped identify the Tsarnaev brothers as perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing.
The Daily Mail also offers some recollections about Dzhokar from his friends, beginning with a 2011 YouTube video in which he is seen “clowning around” with pals:
In the clip uploaded October 4 of that year, the young man sitting in the driver’s seat of a car shows off his knack for doing different accents from the Caucasus region, from Armenian to Azerbaijani, Ossetian and Chechen.
Impersonating a Armenian hood who came to Moscow to collect a debt, Tsarnaev brandishes a red pocket knife and says: ‘You see this this knife? It was my grandfather’s. We’ll cut him, cut him!’
At one point, a friend asks Tsarnaev to do a Chechen accent. In response, Dzhokhar says with a grin: ‘Now my bros are going to bring guns, we’ll whack anyone, anyone.’
Later in his monologue, he goes on to say: ‘Whoever points at Chechnya even with his toe, we’ll whack him, whack him.’
[...] His high school friend Mercado said there was only one time he remembered him discussing terrorism.
‘A friend of mine remembered a conversation he had had with Dzhokhar. It was along the lines of when justified, terrorism is not necessarily a bad thing. It was a red flag but people say things all the time and you don’t take it out of context. You don’t believe someone’s going to be a terrorist because of these conversations.’
The bombers have an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Maryland. He has a very different opinion of the boys from their father, as related by CBS News:
Ruslan Tsarni said he was “absolutely shocked” and “absolutely devastated” upon hearing of his nephews’ involvement in the attack and said it was “not comprehendible [sic] in our family.”
“They’ve been refugees in this country. Refugees come from war,” Ruslan said of their background, though he described the older brother, Tamerlan, as a “a loser.”
He called his nephews “barbarians, wherever they are” and said after learning of their involvement in the bombings, “They do not deserve to be on this earth … What can I say? They murdered.”
The CBS affiliate in Boston brings some more background on the bombers from their uncle:
Tsarni says Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev immigrated to the United States around 2000 or 2001, and have lived at the same Cambridge address since that time.
According to Tsarni, Dzhokhar completed high school in Cambridge and was attending college somewhere outside of Boston.
Tsarni, who says he hasn’t been in touch with the brothers since around 2009, tells WBZ-TV he believes that the brothers’ parents may have moved back to Russia.
Tsarni’s grief over the crimes of his nephews appears bottomless. “I just wish they never existed,” Politico quotes him saying. “I’m wordless. I’m wordless. I am wordless. Shocked.” He said he was ready to accept “curses” because “I’m associated with these bastards.”
In an interview with CNN, he expressed condolences for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, going so far as to describe several individual victims he had seen on television. He said the brothers never lived with him, and he had not seen them since 2006. He confirmed that the family is Muslim but angrily denied that Islam had anything to do with the bombings, calling that idea “a lie, a fraud.” However, he speculated that someone may have radicalized them into a violent sect, but not their father, who “spent his life bringing bread to their table and fixing cars.”
Tsarni also very loudly repeated his call for Dzhokar to turn himself in immediately and beg for forgiveness, saying that his actions brought shame upon the Chechen community.
Another uncle, Alvi Tsarni, said in a different interview: “If he did this one, I’m sorry too. It’s crazy, it’s not possible, I can’t believe it.” CBS News in Boston reports that he had not spoken to the brothers in years… until yesterday, when he says Tamerlan called him to apologize for being out of touch so long.
Edit: I initially misunderstood what Ruslan Tsarni said about the boys’ radicalization during his interview; he does not think their father was responsible. I have corrected the reference.
Video of Uncle Ruslan’s press conference:
Update: The Toronto Sun has located the bombers’ aunt, Maret Tsarnaev:
“This is a huge tragedy for the family,” Tsarnaev, 45, said. “My brother’s two boys, they are growing up so fast. My first reaction is, ‘Why the hell would they do this?’ But when I go through all the material, it’s not giving anything … the whole world is now making a decision (on them) now by just seeing these pictures and not having anything else.”
The aunt said she hasn’t seen the two men for five years, but knew they were living in Cambridge. Dzhokhar had a love of math and was attending school there. As was Tamerlan, but it was unclear if he dropped out when his daughter was born, two years ago.
“These two boys, all they must have in their heads at this age is love,” she said. “I cannot believe Tamerlan is dead. This cannot be true.”
Update: Auntie Maret speaks from her home in Toronto. She professes herself to be a lawyer with very high standards of evidence for the allegations against her nephews… to the point where she thinks the case against them was “staged.” This family does not seem to include any small- or medium-sized personalities.
Update: Not to be outdone, the Tsarnaev’s father, speaking from Russia, was just quoted on CNN saying his sons were “framed,” and calling the police who shot Tamerlan “cowards.”