Investigators of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev case say that he travelled to the Russian republic of Dagestan in 2012 with the intent of joining a radical Islamist group, but he never followed through with his plan.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot dead during a police gun battle on April 19 after officials claim he and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokahr, had set off two homemade bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
In 202, officials say Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom they described as a “typical lone wolf”, went to Dagestan after becoming radicalized in the US.
While staying abroad, however, Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not join the ranks of an international terror group, and it appears that the two brothers were acting of their own accord when they set off the deadly explosions, officials close to the matter told ABC News.
Investigators also found no manifesto written by Tamerlan Tamerlan while he was staying in Dagestan, which would have provided a clear motive for the attacks.
Similarly, no evidence was found so far to suggest that Tamerlan Tsarnaev reached out to Islamist leaders on his earlier trips to Chechnya to visit his father’s relatives.
During his recent visit to Dagestan, where his parents currently reside, Tamerlan Tsarnaev did make contact with Mahmud Mansur Nidal, who has been suspected of having militant ties, according to officials.
The two were frequently seen at a Salafist mosque in the capital of Makhachkala, which is popular among insurgents.
However, while Mahmud Mansur Nidal eventually ended up joining a radical Islamist organization in the southern Russian region, Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not follow him and later returned to the U.S.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev travelled to Dagestan in 2012 with the intent of joining a radical Islamist group, but he never followed through with his plan
Mahmud Mansur Nidal, a man who was both Palestinian and Kumyk, was killed in May 2012 after refusing to give himself up to security forces that had surrounded a house in Makhachkala, according to official police records.
An FBI probe has revealed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had social networking ties with Muslim convert William Plotnikov, a Russian national from Canada, which brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.
William Plotnikov had been detained in Dagestan in December 2010 on suspicion of having ties to the militants and during his interrogation was forced to hand over a list of social networking friends from the U.S. and Canada who like him had once lived in Russia, Novaya Gazeta reported.
William Plotnikov was among seven suspected militants killed on July 14 during a standoff with police in the Dagestani village of Utamysh, according to the official police record.
After William Plotnikov’s death, Russian security agents lost track of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and went to see his father in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, who told them that his son had returned to the U.S., Novaya Gazeta said.
The Russians later determined that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had flown to Moscow on July 16 and to the U.S. the following day, the newspaper said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev arrived in New York on July 17.
Investigators also looked into Tamerlan Tsaranev’s relationship with a distant cousin with ties to extremists group, who is suspected of playing a role in the 26-year-old former boxer’s radicalization.
Magomed Kartashov is founder and leader of a group called The Union of the Just which reportedly promotes the application of Islamic Sharia law and has protested against the U.S.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev is said to have met Magomed Kartashov for the first time in Dagestan. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told TIME Magazine that the two kinsmen “became very close”.
The Union of the Just publicly renounces violence, but several of its members have ties to militants.
A lawyer for Magomed Kartashov confirmed to ABC News that Russian security agents recently interviewed her client about his links to Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Magomed Kartashov admits that the two were close but insists that it was Tamerlan Tsarnaev who tried to “pull him into extremism”.
He is currently in jail on charges of resisting police after waving an Islamists flag during a wedding procession. His lawyer expects he will remain there for at least two more months.
Magomed Magomedov, another member of Union for the Just, told ABC News that he saw Tamerlan Tsarnaev on several occasions at the Makhachkala mosque, but the American transplant appeared out of place.
“He was sticking out, it was obvious he is not local. He liked to draw attention with his expensive and fancy clothes. His haircut was something no one has seen before,” he said.
According to some accounts, Tamerlan Tsarnaev would put on airs by claiming that he knew more about Islam than he actually did. In conversations with other congregants, he would often recite things he had picked up online in a bid to impress the locals, who grew annoyed with him.
But according to officials, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not as strict a practitioner of Islam as he appeared to be.
According to one investigator, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, like his younger brother Dzhokhar, would often indulge in mar***ana while living in Massachusetts, spending hours high.
The FBI is to meet with nearly a dozen people who had known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including relatives, childhood friends and acquaintances from the mosque, hoping to shed light on the events that led to the bombings.
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.
William Plotnikov is a new figure that emerged in the story of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s conversion to violent extremist Islam.
Nicknamed “The Canadian”, William Plotnikov was a 23-year-old boxer from Canada who Tamerlan Tsarnaev met online and may have visited during his trip to Russia last year.
William Plotnikov, a Muslim convert from Toronto, could have spurred Tamerlan Tsarnaev to direct his against the US, new reports reveal.
The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Dagestan – a Russia republic torn by jihadist terrorism – to join an Islamic militia and fight against Russian forces in July 2012.
One day after William Plotnikov was killed by Russian security forces, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fled to Moscow. The next day he was back to the United States.
William Plotnikov, a Muslim convert from Toronto, could have spurred Tamerlan Tsarnaev to direct his against the US
Another contact Tamerlan Tsarnaev had in Dagestan – Makhmud Mansur Nidal, 19 – was also killed by Russian forces during his six-month visit to the war-torn region.
Novaya Gazeta suggests William Plotnikov may have turned Tamerlan Tsarnaev against the United States.
“It seems that Tamerlan Tsarnaev came to Dagestan with the aim of joining the insurgents. It didn’t work out..,” a security source told the newspaper.
“After Nidal and Plotnikov were destroyed and he lost his contacts, Tsarnaev got frightened and fled.”
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s parents moved them to the US from the troubled Dagestan region years ago.
The similarities between William Plotnikov – who was called “The Canadian” by the other militiamen – and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are uncanny.
Both men were competitive boxers as teenagers. Both seemed to have suddenly turned to radical Islam in 2009 and quickly became interested in violent jihad being waged in Dagestan – where Islamic militias are targeting the moderate Sufi Muslims and fighting Russian security forces who control the region.
Both were born in Russian republics and later moved to the West, where they struggled to fit in.
It is unknown whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev and William Plotnikov ever met in person.
At one point, Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited his aunt in Toronto – the same city where Plotnikov lived with his parents.
William Plotnikov seized and interviewed by Russian authorities in 2010. At that time told them that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was one of the people he communicated with online.
Novaya Gazeta reports that the two communicated via a site associated with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a non-governmental organization.
William Plotnikov was then released by the Russians and went on to join an Islamic militia and take up arms against Russian security forces in Dagestan.
In February 2012, Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Dagestan.
Novaya Gazeta reports that he was seen “more than once” by Russian intelligence units with Makhmud Mansur Nidal, 19, a half-Palestinian Dagestani who is believed responsible for a twin bomb attack in the capital Makhachkala that killed 13 people.
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.
According to a new report, Russian authorities secretly recorded one of the Boston bombers discussing jihad with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, in 2011 but failed to alert U.S. security agencies.
U.S. officials were told for the first time this week that two calls of note were discovered when the Russian internal security service, the RSB, were bugging calls at the Tsarnaevs family home in Dagestan, according to reports.
The recording picked up a “vague conversation” about jihad between either Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev and their mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the Associated Press reported.
It also picked up a phone call between Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and a man under FBI investigation living in Southern Russia.
American security sources anonymously revealed the information to the news agency and said if the calls had been flagged to the FBI, the agency may have conducted a more detailed investigation into the two men.
There was no evidence of a plot against America in the calls, according to the report.
Russian authorities secretly recorded one of the Boston bombers discussing jihad with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, in 2011 but failed to alert U.S. security agencies
The news comes as the FBI attempts to defend itself against criticism that it failed to fully investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev that year.
In January, the FBI investigated and interviewed the family after Russian authorities flagged the elder bomber as a possible security threat.
It is not clear why the phone calls would not have been reported to American security officers as part of that briefing and the RSB were unavailable for comment.
Following their probe, the FBI concluded Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not present a threat and ceased monitoring him stating they saw no links to “terrorism activity, domestic or foreign”.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R. South Carolina) said the agency had “dropped the ball” in that probe.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that the Russian government followed up their concerns over Tamerlan Tsarnaev six months later – asking the CIA for whatever information it had on him.
It is not clear what prompted the Russian request but the CIA review agreed with the FBI that Tamerlan Tsarnaev posed no threat.
As a precaution they placed him on a 70,000 name watch-list called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE).
However, there were mistakes in both the spelling of his name and in his date of birth, so his six month departure from the country in 2012 wasn’t properly identified, according to the Times.
The first Russian request came in March 2011 through the FBI’s office in the United States Embassy in Moscow.
In a one-page request they said Tamerlan Tsarnaev “had changed drastically since 2010” and was preparing “to join unspecified underground groups”.
By June 2011 the FBI said they were satisfied he provided no threat and notified Russia.
They also added Tamerlan Tsarnaev to another watch-list – the Treasury Enforcement Communications System.
According to the Times, the FBI repeatedly went back to Russia to request more detail but they failed to provide any new information.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva has come under increasing scrutiny in recent days given her outspoken denial of her sons’ actions and wild accusations of a cover-up.
She has repeatedly said her sons were framed and even claimed blood on the streets, after the bombings, was paint.
On Friday, it emerged agents now consider Zubeidat Tsarnaeva “a person of interest” in their investigation.
“She [Zubeidat Tsarnaeva] is a person of interest that we’re looking at to see if she helped radicalize her son, or had contacts with other people or other terrorist groups,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat from Maryland, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, said.
Both sons appear to have had a close relationship with their mother.
Just before his death Tamerlan Tsarnaev made a final call to her saying: “Mama I love you.”
She was intending to travel with her husband to the U.S. last week but both delayed those plans.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said any suggestion she has links to terrorist activity are “lies and hypocrisy”.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the Boston marathon bombers, says she regrets that her family emigrated to the US, more than 10 years ago.
At a news conference in the Russian republic of Dagestan, where she now lives, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said America had taken her children away from her.
The Boston bombers’ mother also reiterated she was sure her sons were not involved in the attack.
It is being reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was added to a terrorism database 18 months ago at the CIA’s request.
Three people were killed and more than 260 wounded when two devices exploded at the Boston marathon on 15 April.
“I would prefer not to have lived in America. Why did I go there?” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said at Thursday’s news conference in Makhachkala, Dagestan.
At a news conference in the Russian republic of Dagestan, where she now lives, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said America had taken her children away from her
“I thought America would protect us. America took my kids away from me… I’m sure my kids were not involved in anything.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed a few days after the bombing during a shootout with police.
His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured and charged in connection with the attack.
The suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, has said he will travel to the US on Thursday or Friday. The family wants to take Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body back to Russia.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, 45, has said she is still undecided whether to go, AP news agency reports, because she was charged with shoplifting in the US last year and fears arrest if she returns.
In questioning from his hospital bedside, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being treated for gunshot wounds, he has reportedly said he and his brother Tamerlan were angry about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2012, Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months with relatives in Dagestan, which has an Islamist militant insurgency.
But congressmen said on Wednesday after closed-door briefings that the brothers are not believed to have had direct contact with a militant organization.
Meanwhile, there are questions as to whether the authorities did enough to prevent the bombings.
US media report that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was added in 2011 to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), at the request of the CIA.
The database contains as many as 745,000 entries; individuals on that list are not necessarily on the so-called terrorist watch list.
The FBI investigated after Russian authorities alerted US counterparts to the activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying he had become a follower of radical Islam.
About six months before the CIA requested his name be added to TIDE, the FBI asked the Russians for more information about the elder brother but received none, and closed its investigation.
US officials said earlier that their intelligence community had no information about threats to the marathon ahead of last week’s attacks.
After a classified briefing at the House intelligence committee on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger said he believed the FBI was not at fault.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the Boston bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, watches the video of her dead son’s mutilated body and cries, her lawyer revealed on Tuesday, after it emerged that she is to be questioned by US investigators.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva appeared publicly outside her home for the first time since her sons Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were named as suspects. She was ushered past journalists and into a taxi, which sped away.
US investigators traveled to southern Russia today to speak to Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and her husband Anzor Tsarnaev, an American Embassy official said.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva is in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province in Russia’s Caucasus, where Islamic militants have waged an insurgency against Russian security sources for years.
The family’s lawyer Heda Saratova, asked for the family to be left alone and said that the parents had just seen pictures of the mutilated body of their elder son Tamerlan Tsarnaev and were not up to speaking with anyone at the moment.
“The mother is in very bad shape,” Heda Saratova said.
“She watches the video [of Tamerlan Tsarnaev] and cries.”
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva appeared publicly outside her home in Dagestan for the first time since her sons Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were named as suspects
The trip by the US team was made possible because of Russian government cooperation with the FBI investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are accused of setting off the bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others on April 15.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a police shootout, while his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar was captured alive but badly wounded.
The embassy official said he could not confirm whether the US investigators had already talked to the suspects’ parents.
“Naturally, the parents are not ready to meet with anyone because the grief is enormous,” Russian official Zaurbek Sadakhanov told a crowd of journalist in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.
“They … are asking to be left alone, at least for a while, to be able to recover.
“As to the case, I think that detectives and policemen in the United States are knowledgeable and will find out what happened in an objective and unbiased way.”
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva is from Dagestan, while the suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev is from neighboring Chechnya.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev had spent little time in either place before the family moved to the US a decade ago, but Tamerlan was in Russia for six months last year.
The father of the two Boston bombing suspects will apparently travel to the US later this week in order to seek “justice and the truth.
Anzor Tsarnaev says he has “lots of questions for the police” and is keen ‘to clear up many things’”when he arrives from his home in Makhachkala in Russia.
He had previously said that he would return to America this week in the wake of the death of his elder son Tamerlan and the arrest of 19-year-old Dzhokhar.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva added that the family hoped to bring Tamerlan’s body back to Russia.
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.