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Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects: Family speaks

April 20, 2013 8:23:26 PM PDT
An uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects says he had a falling-out with one of his nephews because of the man's increased commitment to Islam.

Ruslan Tsarni says he grew concerned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he told him in a 2009 phone conversation that he had chosen "God's business" over work or school.

Tsarni said he then contacted a family friend who told him Tsarnaev had been influenced by a recent convert to Islam.

Tsarni says the two hadn't spoken since that call.

The 26-year-old Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police Friday. His younger brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured that evening.

Tsarni says he was relieved his younger nephew was captured alive so he could seek forgiveness from the bombing victims.

Two brothers, one now dead, one alive and captured. After hours of only grainy images of two men in baseball caps to go on, a portrait has gradually started emerging of the men suspected in the attack.

The two had been living together on Norfolk Street in Cambridge. Tsarni, told The Associated Press that the men lived together near Boston and have been in the United States for about a decade. They came from the Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency stemming from separatist wars.

"Yes, we're ashamed. They're the children of my brother," Ruslan Tsarni told a throng of reporters outside his home in Montgomery Village, Md.

The uncle went on to urge the suspect to turn himself in while he was still on the run. "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness," Tsarni said.

He said he had not seen them since December 2005. He said his nephews had struggled to settle themselves in the U.S. and ended up "thereby just hating everyone."

Asked what he thought provoked the bombings, Tsarni said: "Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine of. Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it's a fraud, it's a fake."

The suspects' father had spoken to ABC News and the Associated Press.

"My son is a true angel," the elder Tsarnaev said. He said his son was "an intelligent boy" who was studying medicine.

"We expected him to come on holidays here," he said.

"They were set up, they were set up!" he exclaimed. "I saw it on television; they killed my older son Tamerlan."

Tsarnaev, badly agitated, gave little more information and ended the call angrily, saying, "Leave me alone, my son's been killed."

In May of 2011, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, then a senior at a prestigious high school, was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge, Mass., to pursue higher education.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, graduating in 2011, the year he won the scholarship, which was celebrated with a reception at City Hall, according to a news release issued at the time.

Before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian. His world view is described as "Islam" and he says his personal goal is "career and money."

Tsarnaev appeared in the video released by authorities on Thursday, identified as Suspect Number 2, striding down a sidewalk, unnoticed by spectators who were absorbed in the race. He followed Tamerlan by about 10 feet. He wore what appeared to be a gray hoodie under a dark jacket and pants, and a white baseball cap facing backward and pulled down haphazardly.

Tamerlan was stockier, in khaki pants, a light T-shirt, and a dark jacket. The brim of his baseball cap faced forward, and he may have been wearing sunglasses.

He was an amateur boxer, listed as a competitor in a National Golden Gloves competition in 2009.


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