April 20, 2013

Suspect brothers a study in contrasts

The older had become a more devout Muslim; the younger is recalled as friendly and down-to-earth.

By JEFF DONN and JOCELYN NOVECK The Associated Press

BOSTON - Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an amateur boxer who had hoped to fight on the U.S. Olympic team, a man who said he had no American friends. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrestled at a prestigious high school, won a scholarship from his city and went on to university.

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This undated photo provided by the vkontakte website shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing. He was captured in Watertown, Mass., Friday evening.

The Associated Press

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Maret Tsarnaev, an aunt of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, holds a reporter’s smartphone, which displays a scene from the bomb site, as she speaks to journalists Friday at her apartment building in Toronto.

The Associated Press

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Two brothers, one dead, one alive. In the hours after grainy video of two men in baseball caps was released by police Thursday, a portrait gradually emerged of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

They had come to the United States about 10 years ago from a Russian region near Chechnya, according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md. They had two sisters. As kids they rode bikes and skateboards on quiet Norfolk Street in Cambridge, Mass.

But their lives appeared to take different turns -- at least until this week, when a video caught them together on Boylston Street, moments before two bombs unleashed terror at the finish line of America's most famous race.

Tamerlan, believed to be 26 when he was killed overnight Friday in a shootout, dropped out after studying accounting at Bunker Hill Community College for just three semesters.

"I don't have a single American friend. I don't understand them." he was quoted as saying in a photo package in a Boston University student magazine in 2010.

He identified himself then as a Muslim and said he did not drink or smoke: "God said no alcohol." He said he hoped to fight for the U.S. Olympic team and become a naturalized American. He said he was studying to become an engineer.

More recently, Tamerlan -- married, with a young daughter -- became a more devout Muslim, according to his aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva. She told reporters outside her Toronto home Friday that the older brother had taken to praying five times a day.

Tamerlan traveled to Russia last year and returned to the U.S. six months later, government officials told The Associated Press. More wasn't known about his travels.

According to law enforcement records he was arrested, in 2009, for assault and battery on a girlfriend; the charges were dismissed.

On a YouTube channel, he recently shared videos of lectures from a radical Islamic cleric; in one, voices can be heard singing in Arabic as bombs explode.

"My son, Tamerlan, got involved in religious politics five years ago," his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told Russia Today television in an interview from Dagestan, the Russian republic bordering Chechnya where she and her husband are living. "He started following his own religious aspects. He never, never told me he would be on the side of jihad."

His younger brother, who was widely known as "Jahar," may have followed in his footsteps. "He talked about his brother in good ways," said Pamala Rolon, who was the residential adviser in the dorm where Dzhokhar lived at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. "I could tell he looked up to his brother."

Dzhokhar was described by friends as well-adjusted and well-liked in both high school and college.

"I'm in complete shock," said Rose Schutzberg, 19, who graduated high school with Dzhokhar and now attends Barnard College in New York. "He was a very studious person. He was really popular. He wrestled. People loved him."

In fact, Schutzberg said, she had "a little crush" on him in high school. "He's a great guy," she said. "He's smart, funny. He's definitely a really sweet person, very kind-hearted, kind soul."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

Anzor Tsaraev
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The father of the Boston bomb suspects, Anzor Tsarnaev, speaks to the media at his home in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a mostly Muslim republic in southern Russia, on Friday.

The Associated Press

Ruslan Tsarni
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Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, speaks with reporters outside his home in Montgomery Village, Md., on Friday. Tsarni urged his nephew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to turn himself in and ask forgiveness.

The Associated Press

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In this undated photo provided by Here & Now radio host Robin Young, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, left, and Young’s nephew, right, pose for a photo after graduating from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.

AP Photo / Robin Young

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Photos released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation early Friday show bombing suspects they identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19.

The Associated Press


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