Published April 25, 2013
In a joint interview that ranged from somber to stunning, the father of the two men believed to have carried out the deadly Boston Marathon terror bombing said he was coming to the U.S. to bury his eldest son and "find out the truth" — while their mother questioned whether the attack even took place.
Speaking to reporters from the mountainous southern Russian region of Dagestan, Anzor Tsarnaev said on Thursday that he still isn’t convinced his sons Tamerlan, 26, and Dzhokhar, 19, set the bombs that killed three people and more than 200 others on April 15.
“I am going to the United States,” Tsarnaev said, punctuating his words by banging on the table. “I want to say that I am going there to see my son, to bury the older one. I don't have any bad intentions. I don't plan to blow up anything."
The suspects' mother, who has an outstanding warrant for shoplifting, was at the news conference as well, but apparently is not planning to make the trip. She expressed sympathy for the victims, yet questioned whether the bombing even took place, suggesting red paint was used to simulate blood on Boston's Boylston Street.
"That's what I want to know, because everybody's talking about it — that this is a show, that's what I want to know," she told reporters. "That's what I want to understand."
The father — who has previously said he believes his sons were set up, despite Dzhokhar’s alleged confession — said he plans to leave as early as Thursday.
"I am not angry at anyone,” he said. “I want to go find out the truth."
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, meanwhile, said she was still mulling it over. She remains wanted on felony shoplifting and property damage charges in Massachusetts, according to court officials, and is concerned she could be arrested. Tsarnaeva said she had been assured by lawyers, however, that she would not be.
She said she now regrets moving her family to the United States.
"I thought America was going to, like, protect us, our kids, it's going to be safe," Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told reporters. "But it happened, opposite. My kids just — America took my kids away from me."
Anzor Tsarnaev told reporters that Tamerlan stayed with him in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital, during a trip his eldest son made in January 2012. Tsarnaev said they visited relatives in Chechnya and worked on an apartment in Makhachkala, but stressed that they were always together, including during trips to mosques. Tamerlan had made the trip primarily to obtain a Russian passport, he said.
Anzor Tsarnaev, who said his relatives were receiving threats in Dagestan, said Tamerlan never showed particular interest in the plight of the Chechen people or its two recent wars.
On Wednesday, Anzor Tsarnaev confirmed to Fox News that FBI and Russian authorities had visited him, adding that FBI officials were polite while asking him questions.
The Tsarnaev family emigrated to the U.S. a decade ago, but both parents returned to Russia last year. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen last year, but Tamerlan had not yet earned citizenship.
Also Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the bombings should spur stronger security cooperation between Moscow and Washington, adding that they also show that the West was wrong in supporting militants in Chechnya.
"This tragedy should push us closer in fending off common threats, including terrorism, which is one of the biggest and most dangerous of them," Putin said during his annual call-in show on state television.
Putin warned against trying to find the roots for the Boston tragedy in the suffering endured by the Chechen people, particularly in mass deportations of Chechens to Siberia and Central Asia on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's orders.
"The cause isn't in their ethnicity or religion, it's in their extremist sentiments," Putin said.
Authorities suspect Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, of using improvised explosives to kill and maim runners and spectators near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and more than 200 injured in the April 15 attack.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed days later in a shootout with police. His brother escaped, but was captured alive Friday night and now faces a charge of use of a weapon of mass destruction that could carry the death penalty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.