Chechen Brothers Linked to Boston Bombing Excelled in Sports, Classroom in US

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The two ethnic Chechen brothers US authorities believe were behind the deadly Boston Marathon blasts this week found success in academics and athletics after moving to the United States with their family, which fled the violence of Russia’s restive Caucasus region a decade ago, according US media interviews with relatives, friends and acquaintances.

WASHINGTON, April 19 (RIA Novosti) – The two ethnic Chechen brothers US authorities believe were behind the deadly Boston Marathon blasts this week found success in academics and athletics after moving to the United States with their family, which fled the violence of Russia’s restive Caucasus region a decade ago, according US media interviews with relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was a Golden Gloves boxer who aspired to fight for the US Olympic team before he died in a chaotic firefight early Friday in Boston, according to a 2010 photo essay in a Boston University graduate school magazine.

His brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was a wrestler who was named a student-athlete of the month at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the city government awarded him a $2,500 academic scholarship in 2011.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth confirmed on its website Friday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a registered student at the school.

Friends and acquaintances of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was being pursued in Boston in a manhunt Friday, described him as a well-adjusted young man who mixed easily in social circles.

“I never heard him talk about politics,” Mahmoud Abu-Rubieh, a fellow wrestler and friend of the younger Tsarnaev, told The New York Times on Friday. “He didn’t really bring up anything like that.”

“I don’t have a single American friend,” he was quoted as saying in the Boston University magazine profile. “I don’t understand them.”

Conflicting details emerged Friday about the journey of the Tsarnaevs’ family from the North Caucasus in the wake of the second Chechen war to Cambridge.

The brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said in a televised interview Friday that the young men come from an ethnic Chechen family from violence-ridden Dagestan, which borders Chechnya in Russia’s North Caucasus region, that lived in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgzystan before coming to the United States in 2003.

Tsarni said the family had been granted asylum in the United States.

US law enforcement officials said the brothers came to the United States at different times, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. One of the brothers came with his parents in 2002, while the other came on his own in 2004, the newspaper reported.

In the Boston University magazine profile, Tamerlan Tsarnaev indicted he had come to the United States sometime in 2004 or 2005.

Citing a friend of the family, The Wall Street Journal reported that the brothers’ father, Anzor Tsernaev, arrived in Cambridge in 2002 and worked as a car mechanic before being diagnosed with brain cancer about two years ago, when he left for Germany to seek treatment.

Anzor Tsarnaev told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that his fugitive son is a “true angel” and an “intelligent boy” who was studying medicine.

"We expected him to come on holidays here," the father was quoted as saying from Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

“They were set up, they were set up!” the AP quoted Anzor Tsarnaev as saying. “I saw it on television; they killed my older son Tamerlan.”

A page on VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook, in the name of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, with a photo bearing a resemblance to one of the men in images released by US authorities of the blast suspects, says he studied at a school in Makhachkala from 1999-2001 and graduated from the Cambridge Ringe & Latin School in Massachusetts in 2011.

There was no way of confirming that the VKontakte page belonged to the suspected bomber.

Another portrait of the young men emerged as well on Friday, one that indicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have become interested in fundamentalist Islam.

A YouTube page created by a user named “Tamerlan Tsarnaev” included several videos associated with jihadist ideology. The page contained posts in Russian and English, including several referring to Islam, but there was no way to confirm whether the user who posted the videos was the deceased suspect in the Boston bombings.

The Vkontakte page under the name Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lists the languages spoken by the young man as English, Russian and Chechen, and identifies his worldview as “Islam” and his personal priorities as “career and money.”

 

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