Boston bomber Tamerlan ‘did not fit into Muslim life’, says aunt

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 14:19

Zee Media Bureau

Makhachkala: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder suspect in the Boston marathon bombings, was a regular at mosques and was learning the Quran but “did not fit into the Muslim life” his aunt, Patimat Suleimanova, reportedly said.

Tamerlan visited Caucasus in Russia last year but struggled to fit in. “He wore a winter hat with a little pompom something no local man would wear and we made him take it off,” said Suleimanova as per a news agency report.

Tsarnaev and his younger brother are accused of setting off the two bombs at the Boston Marathon on April 15 that killed three people and wounded more than 200. Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a gun battle with police. His 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was later captured alive, but badly wounded.

Suleimanova, who wore a pea-green headscarf, said her nephew prayed regularly and studied the Muslim holy book. "He needed this. This was a necessity for him," she said.

Every day, using Skype, he spoke to his American-born wife, who had recently converted to Islam, and at times she instructed him on how to observe religious practices correctly when he lapsed, Suleimanova said from her home in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. She said her nephew was considering bringing his wife to Dagestan.

On Monday, two US officials said preliminary evidence from an interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religion but were apparently not tied to any Islamic terrorist groups. The US officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

US investigators are focusing on the six months Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent last year in two predominantly Muslim Russian provinces, Dagestan and Chechnya, to see if he was radicalized by the region`s militants who have waged a low-level insurgency against Russian security forces for years.

After returning from Russia, Tsarnaev made his presence known at a Boston-area mosque, where his outbursts interrupted two sermons that encouraged Muslims to celebrate American institutions such as the July 4 Independence Day and figures like Martin Luther King Jr., according to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. During one incident congregants shouted at him, telling him to leave, the center said in a statement released Monday.

Tsarnaev`s father explained his son`s trip by saying he needed to get a new Russian passport. But an official with the federal migration service in Dagestan said Monday that Tsarnaev had applied for a new passport in July, but never picked it up, the Interfax news agency reported. Tsarnaev returned to the US on July 17.

His mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told the AP that her son greatly enjoyed his time with her relatives, but never traveled to her native village in a mountainous region of Dagestan, which is a hotbed of an ultraconservative strain of Islam known as Wahabbism. Wahabbism was introduced to the Caucasus in the 1990s by preachers and teachers from Saudi Arabia.

The mother said her relatives now all live in Makhachkala and the town of Kaspiisk. She refused to say which mosque her son frequented, but Tsarnaev`s parents and aunt firmly denied that he met with militants or fell under the sway of religious extremists.

"He used to say, `I want to go somewhere in the mountains, to be all by myself, to escape from everyday life, to be alone,`" Suleimanova said.

The suspects` father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said he intends to travel to the US. "I want normal justice," he said. "I have many questions for the police. You know, I am a lawyer myself and I want to clear up many things. .... I want justice and the truth."

The family said he wants to bring Tsarnaev`s body back to Russia.

With Agency Inputs




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