A 29-year-old man has been killed and other four people wounded in a knife attack in the busy Opéra district of Paris on May 12.
According to witnesses, the suspect had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) before being shot dead by police.
ISIS later said one of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.
France has been on high alert following a series of attacks in Paris and Lyon. More than 230 people have been killed by ISIS-inspired jihadists in the past three years.
Security forces have identified the attacker as being born in 1997 in the Russian republic of Chechnya, although he was not carrying any identification papers and has not been officially named. Chechnya is a republic in the North Caucasus region of southern Russia.
The republic declared independence in 1991 but Russian troops invaded in 1994 to quash it, sparking a decade-long conflict.
Jihadist groups, including those aligned with ISIS, have long operated in the region.
The judicial source told French media the suspect had no criminal record and that his parents had been held for questioning. Another source told Reuters the suspect was not previously known to police.
The suspect is believed to be a French national.
This is thought to be the first time an assailant of Chechen origin has carried out a terrorist attack in France.
France is home to some 30,000 people of Chechen origin.
France’s Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the man who died was a 29-year-old passer-by, but gave no further details.
The four who were injured have also not yet been named. AFP news agency, citing sources, said a 34-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were seriously hurt, while a 26-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were slightly wounded.
Gérard Collomb said none had life-threatening injuries.
The attacker began stabbing passers-by at about 21:00 local time.
Eyewitnesses described him as a young man with brown hair and a beard, dressed in black tracksuit trousers.
The attacker tried to enter several bars and restaurants but was blocked by people inside.
Police first tried to stop the assailant with a stun-gun before shooting him dead, nine minutes after he began the attack.
Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev have been charged in connection with the murder of Russian opposition activist Boris Nemtsov.
The Moscow court said one of the men, Zaur Dadayev, had admitted involvement in the shooting on a bridge near the Kremlin on February 27.
Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev are of Chechen origin.
Three other suspects were remanded in custody. A sixth man is reported to have killed himself in a standoff with police in the Chechen capital Grozny.
The suspect threw one grenade at the arresting officers and blew himself up with another, a security source told Interfax news agency.
Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and veteran liberal politician, who was 55, was shot in the back four times as he was walking with his girlfriend within sight of the Kremlin. He was buried in Moscow on March 3.
Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, who are both accused of organizing and carrying out the murder, were brought into court amid heavy security.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said Zaur Dedayev was a devout Muslim who was shocked by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Russian investigators have previously said they were looking into the possibility that Boris Nemtsov was killed over his defense of Charlie Hebdo.
In a statement on his Instagram account, Ramazan Kadyrov also confirmed Zaur Dadayev had been a member of the Chechen police who was decorated for his bravery.
The other suspects include Anzor Gubashev’s younger brother Shagid Gubashev and two men named as Ramzan Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov. Reports say all three have denied any involvement in the murder.
Four of the men come from the northern Caucasus region and were detained in the republic of Ingushetia which borders Chechnya, Russian media say.
The Russian Investigations Committee is treating the case as a “contract killing”, Interfax news agency reported.
According to the sections of the criminal code cited in court, investigators believe the murder was carried out by a group of people, that it was committed on contract for financial gains, and that it also involved extortion and banditry, Interfax says.
President Vladimir Putin has condemned Boris Nemtsov’s murder and called for an end to “shameful” political killings in Russia.
However, leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny accused the Kremlin of ordering the assassination to cow the opposition amid Russia’s mounting economic problems.
Boris Nemtsov was killed just days before a march against the war in Ukraine that he was organizing.
Boris Nemtsov had also been drafting a report expected to expose covert Russian military involvement in the conflict.
Abdul-Baki Todashev, father of a Chechen immigrant Ibragim Todashev, who was shot dead by an FBI agent while being questioned about his ties to Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said Thursday that he regrets allowing his son to go to the U.S.
Ibragim Todashev, 27, was a mixed martial arts fighter who had trained with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Boston, and his father said they had bonded because of their shared interests and heritage as Chechens from southern Russia.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police days after the April 15 terrorist attack.
Ibragim Todashev was killed Wednesday after an altercation with an FBI agent during a meeting with the agent and two Massachusetts state troopers at his home in central Florida. Law enforcement officers say that during the meeting, he had implicated himself in an unsolved 2011 triple murder.
Abdul-Baki Todashev said he was worried that with his son was dead, the FBI could now pin any crime on him.
“Out of fear of the lawlessness in Chechnya, I sent him to the U.S., because it seemed like the safest country at the time,” the distraught father told the Associated Press.
“Now I’m thinking about how to bring home his body. As it turns out I sent him to his death.”
Abdul-Baki Todashev said his son Ibragim, who has a previous arrest for aggravated battery after he left a man unconscious following a fight over a park spot, is “not capable” of killing anyone.
“There is a clear picture emerging that this is all fabricated,” Abdul-Baki Todashev told the Boston Globe.
“They killed my son and then they made up a reason to explain it.”
Friends and family members of the 2011 murder victims reacted to news of Ibragim Todashev’s alleged confession on social media.
On a Facebook memorial for victim Raphael Teken, the moderator of the page wrote: “Whether we ever know exactly what happened, there is one thing we surely know and that is that Rafi deserved a much better fate.
“He was funny, kind, joyful and generous.
“All of us that knew him knew [his death] couldn’t have been about anything he did, but are now horrified by what it may have been about.”
Facebook user Tony Porter wrote: “I’m disappointed that we will never really get to experience true justice for our friend or know the reasons for what happened despite the fact that both alleged suspects are now deceased.
“I don’t know how you are supposed to feel when your friend’s killer gets killed, but I don’t feel <<relieved>> like I thought I would.”
Moderators of a Facebook memorial for victim Erik Weissman wrote: “Hoping for some closure” and posted a photo of him with the caption: “Forever young, forever beautiful, forever in our hearts.”
Ibragim Todashev was shot dead by an FBI agent while being questioned about his ties to Boston suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev
A friend who said he went to high school with Erik Weissman commented: “That playful grin is the Erik that will live on in my memory… Let’s hope [this] represents at least a small step towards some kind of <<closure>> – if that even exits – for his nearest and dearest.”
Ibragim Todashev’s estranged wife, Reniya Manukyan, denied her husband’s alleged involvement in the 2011 triple murder, but she noted that he did travel back to Boston in the summer of that year.
“He wasn’t involved. So he was not even nervous [to talk with the FBI].”
Reniya Manukyan and her husband separated in November. She said they lived in Atlanta before moving to Orlando in late 2011.
She also said that agents had questioned her several times and even stopped her at the airport when she returned from a trip to Chechnya several weeks after the Boston bombings.
Abdul-Baki Todashev said his son – the second of 12 children – was at university when he got an opportunity to go to the U.S. to study English about five or six years ago. He said he later agreed to his son’s request to remain in the U.S. “because it seemed like the safest country”.
Chechnya has been ravaged by two wars between separatist fighters and Russian federal troops since 1994, and remains troubled by periodic outbreaks of violence. The family’s red-brick house on the outskirts of Grozny, the Chechen capital, still bears the marks of shrapnel.
Abdul-Baki Todashev said his son gave up martial arts because of an injury and later held a number of jobs, including as a driver at a retirement home, before moving to Florida within the last year. The father said Ibragim had planned to come to Chechnya this week to visit his extended family, but was asked by the FBI to delay his trip.
Abdul-Baki Todashev said he had learned of his son’s death from a phone call from one of his son’s friends, who also had been questioned by the FBI. He said the friend, whom he didn’t name, told him that both of them had been pressured to confess to the murders, but that they were innocent.
The FBI gave no details on why it was interested in Ibragim Todashev except to say that he was being questioned as part of the Boston investigation. However, two officials briefed on the investigation said he had implicated himself as having been involved in a 2011 triple murder in a Boston suburb; investigators now suspect that Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have been involved in the unsolved crime.
Law enforcement officials believe, partly based on Ibragim Todashev’s alleged confession, that Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev carried out the 2011 killings after a drug deal turned violent. The suspects didn’t want the three victims to be able to identify them, so they s**t their throats, sources told NBC.
Authorities had gone to Ibragim Todashev’s home late Tuesday with evidence suggesting that Todashev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and Tsarnaev’s younger brother, Dzhokhar, were involved in the 2011 killings, according to reports.
No suspects had been arrested in that case, in which three men were found in an apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts on the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks with their throats cut and marijuana covering their bodies.
Massachusetts investigators had reported earlier this month that they were uncovering “mounting evidence” that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, were involved in the sl**ing. One of the victims, Brendan Mess, was a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s.
Authorities said they have no reason to believe that Ibragim Todashev had any involvement in the Boston Marathon bombings.
The FBI has been investigating Ibragim Todashev for the last month, questioning him several times regarding his ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police in a shootout following the deadly April 15 marathon bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, has been charged in connection with the bombings and is being held at a prison medical center outside Boston.
Khusen Taramov, a friend of Ibragim Todashev’s, confirmed that Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev knew each other. He said they had been in contact via phone or Skype about a week before the bombings.
Ibragim Todashev was arrested in an unrelated incident on May 4 for aggravated battery after he left a man unconscious in the parking lot of a shopping mall.
Posters expressing support for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is charged with last month’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, have been put up on walls in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny.
It is not clear who is behind the posters declaring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “not guilty”, which appeared after Russia’s May Day celebrations.
The posters show pictures of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, and include an appeal for online donations.
The Tsarnaev family are ethnic Chechens but have lived mostly outside Chechnya.
Residents of Grozny say the posters most likely came from someone trying to make money out of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Posters expressing support for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been put up on walls in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s elder brother Tamerlan – a fellow suspect – was killed during a clash with police three days after the April 15 bombings, which killed three people and wounded 264.
Reports say the Tsarnaevs lived for years in Kyrgyzstan – in Central Asia – and Dagestan, another Russian republic in the North Caucasus which borders Chechnya.
In the 1990s, Russia’s war in Chechnya spilled into Dagestan. It is now more violent, and is experiencing an Islamist insurgency and harsh police crackdown.
Pro-Tsarnaev leaflets have also appeared in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports. Police are trying to find out who stuck them on the walls of underpasses in the city centre.
The posters in central Grozny follow an earlier campaign there in support of the Tsarnaevs. The authorities removed the earlier ones, which appeared on April 24.
The latest posters in Grozny say: “This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old lad accused of a terrorist attack in Boston. But as many people now know, that is a groundless accusation, there is absolutely no evidence against him.
“Now he is in a serious condition, in a prison hospital, he needs medical and legal help. Dzhokhar’s parents ask you for help, to collect money for their son, whom they cannot lose, as they have already lost the older son, cruelly, unjustly. We will be grateful for any help, in the name of the Almighty do not remain indifferent.”
The message includes a number for the Russian online payment system, Qiwi Wallet, and the Tsarnaev family address in the social network, VKontakte.
According to Chechnya’s Moscow-backed President Ramzan Kadyrov, the Tsarnaevs spent little time in Chechnya, a republic devastated by war between Russia and separatist rebels in the 1990s.
Since then, Grozny has been rebuilt and now boasts skyscrapers and a huge central mosque.
Ruslan Tsarni, one of the Boston bombers’ uncles living in the U.S., was previously married to a CIA officer’s daughter for three years.
Ruslan Tsarni, formerly known as Tsarnaev, who publicly denounced his two terrorist nephews’ actions and called them “Losers”, even lived with his father-in-law agent Graham Fuller in his Maryland home for a year.
Graham Fuller was forced to explain the relationship on Saturday as news of the family link emerged online.
The former CIA agent told Al-Monitor that his daughter, Samantha, was married to Ruslan Tsarni, whose surname was then Tsarnaev, for three to four years in the 1990s.
Ruslan and Samantha divorced in 1999 more than ten years after Graham Fuller left the CIA in 1987.
“Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev [Tsarni] for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,” Graham Fuller said.
“They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe.
“I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND.”
Graham Fuller said his son-in-law showed no interest in the agency or politics but spoke generally about his family in Chechnya.
The former CIA agent said any attempts to portray the relationship as a link between the security agency and the two terrorists was “absurd”.
Ruslan Tsarni, formerly known as Tsarnaev, was married for three years to CIA agent Graham Fuller’s daughter Samantha
“Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics,” Graham Fuller told Al-Monitor.
“I doubt he even had much to say of intelligence value other than talking about his own family’s sad tale of deportation from Chechnya by Stalin to Central Asia. Every Chechen family has such stories.”
Graham Fuller visited Samantha and Ruslan Tsarni in Bishek, as a former Russian history graduate himself interested in “Soviet minorities”.
He said he may have met the terror suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, there once and his daughter knew the Tsarnaev family when Tamerlan was a toddler and before his younger brother Dzhokhar was born.
“I for one was astonished at the events, and to find myself at two degrees of separation from them,” Graham Fuller added.
Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Montgomery Village, Maryland, was thrust into the spotlight as the names of his two nephews, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, emerged in connection to the Boston terror attack.
He stood on his driveway and attacked the two men calling them “Losers”.
Ruslan Tsarni has since reported a rift between his family and that of his brother Anzor’s and said his older nephew Tamerlan had become increasingly extreme in his religious views.
He said he last spoke to Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2009 when he declared he was dropping out of school to do “God’s business” and Ruslan Tsarni was concerned at his religious fervor.
“[The bombing] has nothing to do with Chechen … He put a shame on our family, he put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity,” Ruslan Tsarni told broadcasters in the aftermath of the bombings.
Ruslan Tsarni also told reporters that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had a friend called Misha who “brainwashed” him.
“This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely,” he said.
FBI agents said they had tracked down Misha and believed he had no link to the terror attacks.
Anzor Tsarnaev, father of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, says he is postponing a trip to the U.S. to visit his hospitalized son Dzhokhar and collect Tamerlan’s body due to his spiking blood pressure.
Anzor Tsarnaev, 47, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he is “really sick” and his blood pressure had spiked.
He said last week that he planned to travel from Russia to the U.S. with the hope of seeing his younger son, who is under arrest, and burying his elder son, who was killed in a clash with police.
The news comes days after it was revealed that the suspects’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, was placed on a CIA watchlist 18 months before the Boston Marathon attack.
Anzor Tsarnaev confirmed that he is staying in Chechnya, a province in southern Russia, but did not specify whether he had been hospitalized.
Until Friday, Anzor Tsarnaev and the suspects’ mother had been living in the neighboring province of Dagestan.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva claimed she had to call an ambulance for her husband on Thursday but did not elaborate on what happened.
It was revealed last week that both parents have left their home in Dagestan for another part of Russia.
Anzor Tsarnaev is postponing a trip to the U.S. to visit his hospitalized son Dzhokhar and collect Tamerlan’s body due to his spiking blood pressure
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was never planning to accompany her husband to the U.S. because she faces felony shoplifting charges here.
On April 25, the parents held a bizarre press conference in which they claimed that the gruesome carnage of the Boston attacks, which killed three people and injured more than 280, were staged by the U.S. government.
“America took my kids away from me,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva cried.
“I’m sure my kids were not involved in anything.”
She went so far as to claim that the blood covering the streets after the blasts was in fact paint.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a police shootout on April 19 and 19-year-old Dzhokhar was taken into custody – alive, but badly injured – less than 24 hours later in Watertown, Massachusetts following a massive manhunt.
After spending nearly a week in a Boston hospital recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during a firefight with police, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was transferred to the Federal Medical Center Devens on April 26.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged in the Boston Marathon attacks and is facing a maximum sentence of the death penalty or life in prison.
The Tsarnaev family emigrated to the U.S. a decade ago, but both parents returned to Russia last year.
Anzor Tsarnaev said Thursday that he was planning to travel to the U.S. as soon as Friday, but hadn’t yet bought a plane ticket.
Banging the table in front of him, Anzor Tsarnaev said: “I am going to the United States. I want to say that I am going there to see my son, to bury the older one.
“I don’t have any bad intentions. I don’t plan to blow up anything. I am not angry at anyone. I want to go find out the truth.”
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, 45, also described a figure known only as “Misha” – who has been pinpointed as a source of radicalization for her son Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The mother said that he was a “very nice man”, of Armenian origin and living in Boston. “Misha” is also apparently a convert to the Islamic faith.
Anzor Tsarnaev has already been interviewed by Russian and American authorities – and would face further interviews if he ever gets to the U.S.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife, Katherine Russell, was “an all-American girl who was brainwashed” by her extremist husband, a schoolfriend claimed today.
According to those who knew her best, Katherine Russell was “totally transformed” by Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Katherine Russell’s high school personal motto was: “Do something about it or stop complaining”.
She dreamed of going to college and joining the Peace Corps.
She urged her friends to “lighten up and enjoy the small things”, in life.
But she met Tamerlan Tsarneav, a disenfranchised man who came to America from his troubled homeland of Chechnya who rapidly had her in his thrall.
By the time she was 21, Katherine Russell had married him and borne his child, Zahara, now 3. She had converted to Islam, hidden her tumble of chestnut hair beneath the hijab and undergone a change so profound that today few friends profess to truly understand it.
Yesterday Katherine Russell, who has been staying at her parents’ home in Rhode Island, returned to the Cambridge, Massachusetts, home which she shared with late husband Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Dressed in a leopard print hijab Katherine Russell darted into the white shingle house to collect some belongings and her pet cat while her daughter waited in the car.
Today Katherine Russell was back home, accompanied by armed federal agents who first interviewed her and her family on Friday.
Shortly before 6 p.m. on Sunday three law enforcement agents – two men, one woman – all wearing dark sunglasses delivered a package to the Russell’s family home.
Katherine Russell’s mother Judith was initially reluctant to answer the front door, opening it fully only after requesting that the officers, thought to be Federal Agents, showed their credentials.
Their presence raises the question how much did Katherine Russell know about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s activities and links?
Katherine Russell’s awareness of her then husband’s movements, thoughts and plans is under intense scrutiny as her relation to the Boston bomber and her proximity to both brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, makes her a key witness – witting or otherwise.
After all she was living with Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he travelled to Makhachkala in 2011 – a trip now attracting the interest of investigators trying to establish whether he met with Gaczhimurad Dolgatov at that time.
Gaczhimurad Dolgatov was a Dagestani jihadist who died in 2012 after a vicious stand-off with Russian security services.
As it has already been revealed, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on the FBI’s radar during that time as they were asked to look into his potential links to extremist groups.
None who knew Katherine Russell as a child could have dreamed that this would be the face she would one day present to the world, nor that her life and those of so many Bostonians would be so violently caught up with two brothers from Chechnya and a cause as unclear as it was brutal.
Katherine Russell’s awareness of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s movements, thoughts and plans is under intense scrutiny, making her a key witness
As a girl growing up in Rhode Island Katherine Russell was known to her friends as Katie. One school friend who asked not to be named recalled: “I saw her like a few months ago and she was just totally transformed. She was not the same person at all.”
Another agreed: “She was just this All-American girl who was brainwashed by her super-religious husband. Nobody understands what happened to her.
“None of us would have dreamed that she would marry so young or drop out of college and have a baby or convert or be part of any of what’s happened.”
The friend said: “She’s just not the same person at all.”
It would be hard to imagine a childhood more rooted in America’s pilgrim heritage than Katherine Russell’s. It is in there in the names of the towns – Plymouth, Dorset, Greenwich –where many of her friends still live and writ large in the wholesome values of the one-time Honors student’s home life.
The eldest of three daughters, to emergency physician Dr. Warren Russell and nurse Judith, hers is a background steeped in the values of family and education.
Katherine Russell attended Daisyville Middle School, North Kingstown. As a sixth grader she is pictured smiling from the pages of the 2001-2002 yearbook dedicated to The North Kingstown Police and Fire Departments in the wake of 9/11. – a date, the opening dedication reads: “Forever in our minds.”
A section of the book is titled, Enduring Freedom, as the school, along with the rest of the nation, refused to be cowed by the acts of terror that hit the homeland on September 11, 2001.
In 2004, Katherine Russell progressed to North Kingstown High School.
She took part gamely in the school’s Mismatch/Bad Hair Day; she dressed up for Hawaiian day though the occasion fell in a chilly October.
She was a member of the Dance Team and the Art Club. In 11th grade she was awarded a Silver Key for a rather odd image of a cat, lashing out at a mouse in a ballet shoe. Her favorite food was Pad Thai.
Katherine Russell competed with her peers in Class Color Day that ended with a Pep Rally in which seas of the school colors, green, blue, red, black and gold filled the stands at the playing field.
One classmate who remembers Katherine Russell from those early days said: “The thing that’s so shocking is that there was nothing at all that made Katherine different.
“Her parents are nice people, her sisters are great girls. But she met this guy, I guess, and everything changed.”
Katherine Russell was a student at Sussex University, Boston, when she met Tamerlan Tsarnaev, then a promising boxer and athlete.
It was during that time that she converted and her youthful priorities appear to have changed as she left in 2010 without graduating.
By then her relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev was intense. Not even his arrest for violently assaulting her in 2009 could change that.
According to Cambridge City Police Department, the incident which took place in July at the Massachusetts home Katherine Russell once shared with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, when interviewed she described him as “a very nice man”.
Certainly Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a man whose influence on Katherine Russell’s life would prove profound.
There is only one odd and unsettling inclusion in her own entry in her graduation High School Yearbook.
Asked to provide a quotation Katherine Russell settled on one that would surely chime with the extremist views of her late husband.
“Don’t take anything for granted,” Katherine Russell advises, before quoting a line from David Bowie’s Quicksand: “Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief,” the baffling lines run.
Muslim militants from Chechnya have a long history of unleashing separatist terror attacks on Russia – but the allegations of Chechen origin brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s involvement in the Boston Marathon explosions would mark the first time they have targeted the West.
Buried in the heart of Russia’s Northern Caucasus, the Islamic state has fought against Russian rule for centuries.
But it culminated in a bloody and chaotic civil war with the Russian government in 1994 that left tens of thousands dead and the region in ruins.
As a result, the area became a hotbed for extremism, and was soon infiltrated by foreign Islamic militants, including those with ties to al-Qaeda.
Terrorists have since unleashed a string of attacks on Russian soil and, more recently, abroad.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old Chechen terror suspect in Boston Marathon bombings
Russian troops withdrew from Chechnya in 1996 after the first Chechen war, leaving it de-facto independent and largely lawless, but then rolled back three years later following apartment building explosions in Moscow and other cities blamed on the rebels.
Chechnya has stabilized under the steely grip of Kremlin-backed local strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel whose forces were accused of massive rights abuses.
However, the Islamic insurgency has spread to neighboring provinces, with Dagestan, sandwiched between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, becoming the epicenter of violence with militants launching daily attacks against police and other authorities.
Militants from Chechnya and neighboring provinces have launched a long series of terror attacks in Russia.
On October 23, 2002, over 40, mostly female, terrorists took more than 700 hostages prisoner at a Moscow theater, demanding an end to the Russian presence in Chechnya. Dressed from head to toe in black hijabs, they became known as The Black Widows.
But when Russian security forces stormed the theater, guns blazing, the hostage takers responded by detonating homemade bombs strapped to their bodies, killing more than 100 innocent theater goers.
Then on September 1, 2004, a group of 32 heavily-armed, masked men seized control of Middle School Number One and more than 1,000 hostages in Beslan, North Ossetia.
Most of the hostages were children aged from 6 to 16 years old.
After a tense two-day standoff, that was beamed around the world, Russian forces raided the building.
A violent, two-hour gunfight followed bringing an end to a siege that ultimately claimed the lives of 331 civilians, 11 commandos and 31 hostage-takers.
The rebels have since claimed responsibility for an array of terrorist attacks, including last year’s double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway system that killed 40 people.
In March 2010, two women suicide bombers killed 40 commuters when they blew themselves up on two packed tube trains during the busy rush hour.
In January 2011, a Chechen suicide bomber unleashed terror on Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport when they blew themselves up killing 36 people.
In recent years, however, militants in Chechnya, Dagestan and other neighboring provinces have largely refrained from attacks outside the Caucasus.
The allegations of Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s role in the Boston’s explosions would reinforce long-held claims by Russian officials that insurgents in the Caucasus have been linked to al-Qaeda.
Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of two Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has said he wishes his nephews “never existed” and called them both “losers”.
Ruslan Tsarni held a press conference outside of his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland, where he said that they had brought “shame” on both their family and their country.
He described the older brother, Tamerlan, as a “loser” and said the pair were “barbarians”.
“I’ve been watching it and reading it. The people who did this, they don’t deserve to even exist on this Earth, that is what I think,” Ruslan Tsarni said.
“I just wish they never existed. I’m wordless. I’m shocked.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, went on the run after his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan was killed in a shoot-out with police in Massachusetts.
Ruslan Tsarni held a press conference outside of his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland
Ruslan Tsarni is a US citizen and worked in oil and gas legislation for more than a decade.
In 2005 he was hired as the vice president of business development and corporate secretary of Big Sky Energy Corporation in Canada but now he lives in Maryland.
Ruslan Tsarni said that the brothers had lived in America for nearly decade since traveling from Chechnya in Russia.
He had not spoken to the boys since 2009 and said that he did not recognize them when he saw the photos released by the FBI on Thursday evening.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived together near Boston, having moved to the US around a decade ago after growing up in an area of Russia near Chechnya.
When he was told that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had died, Ruslan Tsarni replied: “He deserved it. He absolutely deserved his it.”
Ruslan Tsarni tried to make it clear that he was ashamed of his nephews actions and urged viewers not to build a connection between their Muslim faith or their ethnicity.
“Anything else to do with religion with Islam is a fraud, is a fake. We’re Muslims, we’re Chechens, we’re ethnic Chechens,” he said.
Because it has been some time since he spoke to either of the boys, Ruslan Tsarni did not know what prompted their terrorist attack, saying that perhaps “somebody radicalized them but it’s not my brother”.
“[It’s] a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.”
Ruslan Tsarni said that the only possible reason for the bombings was because Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were “being losers and not being able to settle themselves and hating everyone else who did”.
Though Ruslan Tsarni had not spoken to either of the suspected bombers in years, his brother- their father- said that he had been in touch with them just yesterday.
The suspects’ uncle added: “I’m wordless… shocked.
“They do not deserve to exist on this earth.”
Ruslan Tsarni called Tamerlan Tsarnaev a “loser” and described his younger nephew, Dzhokhar, as a quiet kid.
Just hours after the FBI released photos and video of the two Boston bombing suspects, the nearby town of Cambridge fell victim to rampage.
On Thursday night, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev of Chechnya and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were believed to have robbed a 7-Eleven with bombs strapped to their chest, then murdered a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus and carjacked a Mercedes SUV with the driver still in the car for 30 minutes.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev FBI wanted poster
After dropping off the carjacking victim at a nearby gas station, at 11 p.m. police caught up to the SUV four miles outside of Cambridge where a shootout ensued between the suspects and authorities. Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev escaped the shootout in the SUV, driving over his wounded brother Tamerlan’s body in the process.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in the hospital around 4 a.m. Friday morning from blast wounds on his chest; an explosive device was found strapped to his person.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev remains at large with the FBI releasing his wanted poster.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev has been identified as the surviving suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings.
Photographs of 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, currently the subject of a massive manhunt, appear to match the man who became known as Suspect 2 or “the suspect in the white hat”.
According to his account on the Russian social networking site VKontakte, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev graduated from Boston’s Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in 2011, and attended School No 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, from 1999 to 2001.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev appears to have been a good student, having apparently received a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge in 2011 to pursue college. He was also named a wrestling all-star at his high school the same year.
On his VKontakte page, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev says he considers “career and money” most important in life. As his world view, he wrote: “Islam”.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev graduated from Boston’s Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in 2011, and attended School No 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, from 1999 to 2001
The page says Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev speaks English, Russian and Chechen, and belongs to a number of groups devoted to Chechnya. Dagestan, a republic neighboring Chechnya, maintains a small Chechen minority.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev was born on 22 July 1993, just before a fierce battle for independence broke out in the Republic of Chechnya, which attempted to secede from Russia in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Over time, the independence movement grew increasingly Islamist in character. Largely quashed by Moscow, a low-level insurgency persists in Chechnya and has leaked into neighboring Dagestan.
On VKontakte, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev follows several pages devoted to Islam. He also lists one of his favorite songs as Shaggy’s Hey Sexy Lady.
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, has been identified as Suspect 1 and died overnight following a firefight with police.
The Boston bombing suspects have been identified as brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who are originally from a Russian region near Chechnya and lived in the US for at least one year, sources told the Associated Press.
The surviving Boston bomber, named Suspect 2 by police, who was seen on CCTV wearing a white baseball cap, has been identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, aged 19.
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev is said to be from Russia’s south, not far from the Chechen Republic.
The man reportedly lived in Turkey before arriving legally in the US about a year ago.
The Boston bombing suspects have been identified as brothers originally from a Russian region near Chechnya
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, has been identified as Suspect 1 and died overnight following a firefight with police.
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, has been identified as Suspect 1 and died overnight following a firefight with police.
NBC News’ Pete Williams said earlier Friday morning that the two suspects likely had “foreign military training,” and had been in the country for about a year.
Later he said they were brothers, and added: “They were legal permanent residents. They were in this country legally, at least a year. They appear to be from Turkey, possibly Chechens from Turkey. That seems to be the nationality here.”
Dzhokhar A Tsarnaev identified as one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects
Just before 7 a.m. Friday morning, the Associated Press confirmed Pete Williams’ reporting and naming Tsarnaev.
Born July 22, 1993, according to Pete Williams, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, has a Massachusetts drivers’ license and has been in the country for around a decade.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev became a legal permanent resident, according to NBC, in 2007.
He died overnight in the firefight with police, suffering from “blast and potentially gunshot wounds …probably a blast injury [and] possibly shrapnel” throughout his trunk.
A previous NBC report claims the two immigrated at least two years ago.
Both brothers are said to have Massachusetts drivers’licenses.