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Family, Former Friends of Bombing Suspects Speak Out

By: CBS News; Associated Press Email
By: CBS News; Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

BOSTON (AP) -- Most family members of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects are standing by them, and expressing doubts that the two brothers were actually responsible for the bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others.

Their sister -- whose home was searched by the FBI today in New Jersey -- told reporters she wasn't sure the accusations against her brothers were true. Police said she's cooperating with the investigation. They describe her as "heartbroken, surprised and upset."

Their father, speaking from southern Russia, insists his sons "were set up." He says he saw on TV that his older son, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev (tsahr-NEYE'-ehv), was killed by authorities, and that 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev (joh-KHAR') is being intensely pursued. The father describes the 19-year-old as a "true angel" and an "intelligent boy."

In Toronto, an aunt of the two suspects says the older one recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day. She said she doesn't believe they could have been involved in Monday's attack.

But an uncle who lives in Maryland says he's "ashamed" of his nephews. He urged the 19-year-old to turn himself in and to "ask for forgiveness from the victims."

When he was asked what might have provoked the bombings, Ruslan Tsarni said, "Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves." He said his nephews had struggled in the U.S. and ended up "thereby just hating everyone."


CBS Web Copy

MAKHACHKALA, Russia The father of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing described his fugitive son as a smart and accomplished "angel" in an anguished interview in which he claimed they were set up.

Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the suspects, spoke with Beth Knobel, an expert in Russian politics, on behalf of CBS News. She said he remains "absolutely in shock and denial" and insistent that his sons are "very good boys."

Tsarnaev also spoke with The Associated Press by telephone in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan after police said one of his sons, 26-year-old Tamerlan, had been killed in a shootout and the other, Dzhokhar, was being intensely pursued.

"My son is a true angel," said the elder Tsarnaev. He said his son was "an intelligent boy" who was studying medicine. Dzhokhar was enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth but there is no indication he 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."

Knobel reported that the boys were in close touch with their father. The elder Tsarnaev said the last time that he talked with them was three days ago and there was absolutely no talk about any involvement that they may have had in the bombings.

The younger Tsarnaev gave few clues as to his inner life on his profile on Vkontakte, a Russian equivalent of Facebook, though he did include websites about Islam among his favorites.

The family's origins are in Chechnya, the mostly Muslim Russian republic where separatist rebels fought two full-scale wars with Russian forces since 1994.

A spokesman for Chechnya's leader said the family left Chechnya long ago and went to Central Asia, then moved to Dagestan, a Muslim republic adjacent to Chechnya that has been the site of a sporadic insurgency for more than a decade.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. The principal's secretary at School No. 1, Irina Bandurina, told the AP that Tsarnaev left for the U.S. in March 2002.

Meanwhile, an aunt of the bombing suspects said Friday the older brother recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day, and she doesn't believe the brothers could have been involved in Monday's attack.

"We're talking about three dead people, 100-something injured, and I do not believe, I just do not believe our boys would do that ... I don't know them in the way that they could be capable of this," Maret Tsarnaeva told reporters in Toronto.

She said her brother Anzor Tsarnaev had high expecations for his sons, especially 26-year-old Tamerlan.

She said her brother was desperate when he found out Tamerlan dropped out of his university. She said he always demanded more of his children and said Tamerlan was his favorite.

Tamerlan married and had a 3-year-old daughter in the U.S., she said.

"He has a wife in Boston and from a Christian family, so you can't tie it to religion," she said.

But she said Tamerlan "seemingly did not find himself yet in America, because it's not easy."

Tamerlan wasn't a devout practicing Muslim, "but just recently, maybe two years ago, he started praying five times a day," she said.

Tamerlan was killed Thursday night during a shootout with police, and a huge manhunt was under way in the Boston area for his brother.

Tsarnaeva called both boys smart and athletic, and she wants proof they are involved in the deadly bombing.

"Within the family, everything was perfect," she said.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


CBS Web Copy

(CBS News) Several family members of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects -- identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 -- spoke out Friday morning, all expressing shock at their actions, but offering contrasting descriptions of the young brothers.

Two uncles -- Alvi and Ruslan Tsarni -- spoke to CBS News and CBS Boston affiliate WBZ respectively. 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 also 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."

Ruslan later called on Dzhokhar to turn himself in and "ask for forgiveness" and said the brothers were a shame to the family and "put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity."

Another man believed to be their uncle, Alvi Tsnarni, told CBS News has not been in touch with either brother since 2009 and believes their parents have moved back to Russia.

Alvi Tsarni told WBZ he learned of his nephews' involvement and Tamerlan's death on the news. "I can't believe this, it's not possible," Tsarni said, "My nephews can't do this stuff. There's no way."

Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the suspects, spoke with Beth Knobel, an expert in Russian politics, on behalf of CBS News. She said he remains "absolutely in shock and denial" and insistent that his sons are "very good boys."

"He said the older one wanted to be a professional boxer. The younger one was in college," Knobel said.

Knobel reported that the boys were in close touch with their father. "The last time that he talked with them was three days ago," she said, "And there was absolutely no talk about any involvement that they may have had in the bombings."

Touching on their religious background, "He said the older boy was more religious, he did go to mosque sometimes. But the younger one was not religious at all."

Tsarnaev is reportedly "very, very angry" that his son Tamerlan was killed during the standoff with Boston authorities. He is "certainly furious at the United States for killing one of them," Knobel said, adding he spent the first few minutes of their phone call "ranting about how could they kill his son."

According to Knobel, Anzor Tsarnaev is currently living in Dagestan, east of Chechnya and he said their mother is "in Russia right now," but she added, his comments "made me think they're not actually living together."

Meanwhile, an aunt of the suspects said Tamerlan recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day.

Maret Tsarnaeva told reporters at her Toronto home on Friday that her brother Anzor Tsarnaev had high expecations for his sons, especially 26-year-old Tamerlan.

She said her brother was desperate when he found out Tamerlan dropped out of his university.

She said Tamerlan married and had a daughter in the U.S.

She called the boys smart and athletic, and she wanted proof they are involved in the bombing.

"Within the family, everything was perfect," she said.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Associated Press Release

WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (AP) -- The FBI is at the northern New Jersey home of the sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

The police director in West New York, N.J., says the woman has told authorities she has not been in frequent touch with her brothers. He says she is very upset.

Police did not have her name.

They have cordoned off the three-story brick building across the Hudson River from New York City.

The woman, speaking through a crack in the door, tells The Star-Ledger of Newark her brothers are smart and great people. She says she doesn't know what got into them.

She also tells the newspaper she is sorry for "all the people who are hurt."


Associated Press Release

BOSTON (AP) -- Two high school friends of the at-large suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings are appealing to him not to hurt anyone else and to turn himself in.

Ashraful Rahman and Essah Chisholm attended Cambridge Rindge & Latin School with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (JOH'-kahr tsarh-NY'-ev).

Rahman tells The Associated Press in a Facebook message that they want Tsarnaev to stop and appeals to him to "not kill himself or do any further harm to anyone." He describes him as a hardworking wrestler who was calm and chill, someone who never did anything wrong. He says he wants to know why he did all this and wants him to reach out to his friends.

Chisholm tells the AP in a Facebook message that he wants to tell his friend not to kill himself or hurt anyone.


Associated Press Release

By ERIC TUCKER

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. (AP) -- The uncle of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect is urging his nephew to turn himself in.

Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., said Friday that 19-year-old Dzhozkar Tsarnaev should turn himself in to police and ask for forgiveness. Officials say Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old who had been known to the FBI as Suspect No. 1, was killed overnight.

The brothers came from a Russian region near Chechnya and lived together in Cambridge, Mass. Tsarni says he hasn't seen them for several years.

He says the family is ashamed. He says he loves the U.S. and respects this country.


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