Bombing suspects’ mother: blood was ‘paint’

Posted at 8:45 AM, Apr 25, 2013
By Ben Brumfield and Greg Botelho


(CNN) — The mother of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing says she believes the tragedy that killed three people and injured dozens more was staged, that the bombing was fake.

“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. That’s what I want to understand,” said Zubeidat Tsarnaev.

She has seen a video pushing the wild idea, she told CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, who interviewed her in Makhachkala, Dagestan. He asked if she has seen the news images of the actual bombings and the suffering they caused.

“I haven’t,” she answered. There was no blood, she said. It was paint. But her disbelief broke down when she spoke of the victims.

“I really feel sorry for all of them. Really feel sorry for all of them,” she said, her voice cracking. But she is resolute about not believing that her sons, Dzhokhar, 19, and Tamerlan, 26 were involved.

The elder son was killed after the two allegedly violently resisted and fled police.

Tamerlan’s body remains unclaimed. Dzhokhar is hospitalized with severe injuries, and faces terrorism and murder charges.

His mother said at a news conference Thursday that authorities “already told us they will not let us see Dzhokhar.”

“This is really crazy,” she told Paton Walsh. “I have no strength. I have nothing. I have no sleep, I am just like dead,” she said, sobbing as she spoke.

Father traveling to U.S.

Her husband, Anzor Tsarnaev, is expected to step off a flight in the United States in the coming days after a long journey from Dagestan. He told reporters he may leave Thursday for the United States.

He has vowed to cooperate in the bombing investigation.

Zubeidat Tsarnaev is not coming with him.

She’s wanted on 2012 felony charges of shoplifting and property damage in Massachusetts, according to court officials.

The family lived there before she jumped bail, and they moved the same year to Dagestan, a semiautonomous region of Russia, officials said.

Anzor Tsarnaev may be bringing along important information for the investigation into the April 15 marathon bombings.

He is to depart for the United States as soon as Friday, human rights activist Kheda Saratova told CNN. Saratova is serving as the parents’ representative.

The father has said he will cooperate in the investigations into the alleged crimes of his sons.

No one had claimed Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body as of Wednesday, the Massachusetts chief medical examiner’s office said. Relatives in the United States have publicly said they are ashamed of the two young men. Several Boston-area imams have said they would feel uncomfortable presiding over Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s funeral.

Suspect talking

Characterized in fair condition at a Boston hospital, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been communicating with authorities. His father has spoken for hours with U.S. and Russian authorities, Saratova said.

On Wednesday, FBI agents were in Makhachkala, Dagestan — a city that Tamerlan Tsarnaev called home for several months in 2012 — to talk with the suspects’ parents.

The conversation, which included members of Russia’s federal security service, ended Wednesday evening, the suspects’ mother told Saratova.

Both parents have publicly said they believe their children are innocent and were framed — “just because they were Muslim,” as Zubeidat Tsarnaev put it.

When asked whether she thinks her younger son will get a fair trial, she replied, “Only Allah will know.”

Russia and the Tsarnaevs

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday urged closer cooperation between other countries’ security services after the Boston Marathon bombings.

“If we combine our efforts, we will not suffer blows like that,” he said during a live televised call-in session in Moscow on Thursday.

The Tsarnaevs are originally from the embattled Russian republic of Chechnya but fled from the brutal wars there in the 1990s. The two brothers were born in Kyrgyzstan and moved at different times to the United States.

In his first on-camera comments since the bombing, Putin also lashed out against those in the West who have slammed Russia for human rights abuses in its actions toward Chechnya.

“Russia is a victim of international terrorism itself. Russia is among the first victims, and I hate it when our Western partners call our terrorists — who committed some heinous crimes in Russia — when they call them freedom fighters and never call them terrorists. They supported them. They provided media support for them, financial support for them, political support — sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. But they always supported their actions in Russia.

“And we always told our partners, instead of general declarations you should have closer cooperation between our security services. And now these two criminals confirmed that we were right. ”

He added, “Of course, we can speculate forever on the tragedy of the Chechen people when they were deported by the Stalin regime. But the Chechens were not the only victims.”

Lawmaker: No sign U.S. intel dropped the ball

Dagestan has become a focus for investigators, especially given that Tamerlan Tsarnaev went there during a six-month trip to Russia last year.

Officials have been looking into what he may have done there during that time. The young man is believed to have posted videos online tied to militant jihadists in the region.

On two occasions before that — in March and late September 2011 — Russian authorities asked U.S authorities to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Zubeidat Tsarnaev said the FBI had visited her family “several times” in 2011 with questions about Tamerlan’s “Islamic interests.”

A senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of information from the Russians said that the case then “was extremely thin,” adding that the European country wanted Tamerlan Tsarnaev questioned to see if he and others had become “radicalized.”

Lawmakers are asking whether the FBI and CIA failed to share information.

Sources told CNN that Russia had separately asked the FBI and the CIA to look into Tsarnaev in 2011.

But a ranking Democrat on a House intelligence subcommittee said Thursday he does not see an intelligence-sharing failure.

This information was put in a database, it was shared among different agencies, it was shared with a joint terrorism task force, and that’s exactly what should happen,” U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, told CNN.

“Some are racing to say that the FBI dropped the ball or the agencies weren’t talking to each other, and that just doesn’t seem to be the case,” he added. Schiff is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence.

The Tsarnaevs and Misha

A friend named Misha, whom Tamerlan met in the United States, steered the older suspect toward a more devout practice of Islam, Tamerlan’s relatives have said.

His mother was impressed with the Armenian convert to Islam. He suggested that she cover her hair with a scarf, which she did.

“When Misha visited us … he just opened our eyes, you know … really wide about Islam. He was really, he’s devoted and he’s very good, very nice man,” Zubeidat Tsarnaev said.

Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, had a less favorable opinion.

“This person just took his brain,” he said. “He just brainwashed him completely.” Tamerlan, a former Golden Gloves boxer, left the ring and stopped listening to music under Misha’s influence.

NYC ‘party’ celebration

The brothers may have planned to celebrate the Boston Marathon bombings by driving to New York City and “party,” according to Ray Kelly, the New York police commissioner.

Kelly said information collected from the surviving suspect included “something about a party or having a party.”

“It may have been words to the effect of coming ‘to party’ in New York,” Kelly said.

A man who was carjacked and held hostage — allegedly by the two brothers — just outside Boston last week said he thought he heard the two men say “Manhattan” in their conversation, which was in a language other than English, the commissioner said.

Deadly toy

The brothers used a remote control device similar to those used to guide toy cars to detonate the two bombs in Boston, said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat and member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has indicated that his older brother planned the attack and described him and his brother as self-radicalized jihadists, according to a U.S. government source.

He has denied any direct influence by terror organizations such as al Qaeda.

The teenager cited the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as motivating factors behind the attack, a U.S. government official said.

He has been charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.

Of the more than 260 people who were hurt in the marathon bombings, 33 were still hospitalized Wednesday night, according to a CNN tally. One person is in critical condition at Boston Medical Center.

According to a source familiar with the investigation, authorities are looking into the possibility that Tamerlan Tsarnaev helped finance the bomb plot through drug sales.

CNN’s Michael Pearson, Jake Tapper, Pam Benson, Julia Talanova, Carol Cratty, Brian Vitagliano, Laura Ly, Deborah Feyerick, Nick Paton Walsh, Julian Cummings, Barbara Starr, Susan Candiotti, Jessica Yellin and Joe Johns contributed to this report.

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