Boston Marathon Bombers Identified As Chechen Brothers, Living Legally in US

Image: Boston Marathon Bombers Identified As Chechen Brothers, Living Legally in US Top: At right, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, killed in a shootout with police. At left, his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who escaped the shootout and is being sought. Bottom: A man looks in Moscow on April 19, 2013, at a computer screen displaying an undated picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev posted on his page in VKontakte, a Russian social media site.

Friday, 19 Apr 2013 09:23 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings have been identified as brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, both of Chechen origin.

The older brother was killed in an overnight shootout with police. The younger one — the one in the white hat in photos released by the FBI— is still on the loose and the subject of a massive manhunt.

There is a heavy police presence in the suburb of Watertown, where law enforcement officials have reportedly said they believe the suspect is currently located.

But the City of Boston and surrounding areas are on lockdown because authorities are looking for accomplices, reports NBC News.

Early Friday the brothers reportedly robbed a 7-Eleven, shot a police officer to death, carjacked an SUV and threw explosives out the window at pursuing law enforcement authorities.

Tamerlan was born in Russia and Dzhokar was born in Kyrgystan. The brothers moved to the U.S. with their parents in 2002 or 2003 after living in the city of Makhachkala, capital of Russia’s Dagestan region, for a year, according to the New York Times.

Dzhokar had been living in Cambridge since at least 2010, and his profile on Vkontakte, a popular Russian social media site, says he graduated from the Cambridge Ringe & Latin School in 2011.

The VKontakte page also mentions a school in Makhachkala as a place Tsarnaev studied between 1999 and 2001.

A school spokesman told Russia Today that Dzhokhar studied there for just one year and produced no particular impression, good or bad, on the teachers. Irina Bandurina, the secretary of Mackhachkala’s School No. 1, also said there were two brothers and two sisters in the family.

One of the sisters spoke to reporters from her home in West New York, N.J. early Friday, saying she is sorry for the families who lost their loved ones as she lost a loved one.

Alina Tsarnaev, 22, said she was shocked by the news, and that Tamerlan, who died, was a “great person, a kind and loving man.” She said she was last in touch with her brothers a long time ago. FBI agents were later seen removing items from her home.

The suspects’ uncle, RuslanTsarni, also told reporters at an impromptu press conference outside his home in Montgomery Village, MD., that he had not spoken to his nephews since 2009.

He insisted that their actions had nothing to do with religion or Chechnya, saying instead that they never acclimated to life in America.

Tsarni said they had been “radicalized” and “learned to hate,” adding they had not been succeeding in the U.S.

He called on his youngest nephew to turn himself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims and their families.

The father of the suspects, Anzor Tsarnaev spoke with The Associated Press by telephone from Makhachkala on Friday, saying, "My son is a true angel. Dzhokhar is a second-year medical student in the U.S. He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here."

According to Russia Today, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, is still in the U.S. and turns out to have a criminal record of her own. On June 13, 2012, the 45-year-old was arrested by the police in Natick, Massachusetts, and charged with larceny of women's clothing valued at $1,624, as well as two counts of malicious damage to property.

Dzhokhar’s Vkontakte profile also lists his “World View” as “Islam” and his “Groups” as “Chechens.” He was enrolled at UMass Dartmouth, which closed its campus after realizing he was a student there, according to the Boston Globe.

Tamerlan was reportedly studied engineering at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He was featured in an online photojournalism essay called “Will Box for Passport,” chronicling him working out in a gym. The older brother reportedly dreamed of making the U.S. Olympic boxing team.

In the essay, Tamerlan is quoted as saying, “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.” It also notes that “Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: ‘God said no alcohol.’ A Muslim, he says: ‘There are no values anymore,’ and worries that ‘people can’t control themselves.’”

Tamerlan also reportedly posted videos from Islamic extremist preachers on his YouTube page.

Authorities have reportedly discovered documents showing that Tamerlan traveled to Russia between January 12, 2012 and July 17, 2012, but they do not know the purpose of his trip.
Intelligence officials are examining the suspects’ possible ties to radical Islamic groups in Chechnya and Dagestan.

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