23 Apr 2013

My kids would never do this: Boston suspects’ mother

Exclusive: Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of the men accused of the Boston bombings, tells Channel 4 News her children were set up as suspects and that they “have nothing to do with this”.

Speaking exclusively to reporter Nick Sturdee, the mother of the two men accused of the Boston bombings said that her son Tamerlan was being monitored before the bombings and that neither son was responsible.

“What happened was a terrible thing. But I know that my kids have nothing to do with this. I know it. I am mother. I know my kids,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told Channel 4 News.

“My kids would never get involved in anything like that.”

Shortly after this on camera interview, Mrs Tsarnaeva told our reporter Nick Sturdee in a phone call that she now accepts that Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead because her son’s widow, Katherine Russell, had called and told her that she had identified the 26-year old’s body.

They were monitoring him and I know that because I used to talk to them. Zubeidat Tsarnaeva

“The first day when I got this message, I got really worried. I was kind of… telling that it is a set up and was just really mad and angry at America,” she said, speaking from Makhachkala, Dagestan.

“It’s just somebody did this, somebody set this up, not my kids.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving Boston bombing suspect, was charged in connection with the attacks on Monday while lying in his hospital bed in Boston. His elder brother Tamerlan was killed during a manhunt after the 15 April attack.

What did the FBI know?

The authorities are not seeking anyone else in connection with the bombings, which killed three people and injured 200, although questions remain over what the security officials knew about the brothers, and when.

The father of the two suspects told Channel 4 News on 21 April that the FBI had phoned Tamerlan in the days after the Boston marathon bombings.

The FBI did not confirm or deny the phonecall, but said it had interviewed the 26-year-old and his family in 2011 after a request from a foreign government based on information suggesting Tamerlan was a “follower of radical Islam and a strong believer”.

In a statement to Channel 4 News, the FBI said it did not find any evidence of terrorist activity at this time.

‘FBI rang me before attacks’

The mother of the two suspects also said that Tamerlan, the eldest, was being watched by the FBI before the attacks.

“They were monitoring him and I know that because I used to talk to them,” she told Channel 4 News.

“They used to come to our house, like two, three times. And then my son Tamerlan used to tell me that he used to talk to them too, because they called me once and they wanted his number and then at such moments I used to get really worried because, you know, my kids and I’m their mother.”

“And then when the agent called me back and he said that you know I have spoken to your son and I really got to understand that he’s a really nice boy. You know, very intelligent, very, like, nice boy.

“He asked me: do you think your Tamerlan could get involved into some kind of, because you know, he’s like a leader, he’s a strong boy, and do you think that he could get involved into kind of like any organisation, you know, like, radical organisation?

“At that time because they told me that they saw whatever he was reading. And I said no, no.”

‘Fight for justice’

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged by federal authorities with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, resulting in death.

The crime does carry the death penalty, although some US media reports suggest that the Obama administration has not yet decided whether to seek that ultimate punishment.

Also speaking from Dagestan, the father of the two suspects told reporter Nick Sturdee that he intends to fight the charges against his sons.

“I’m planning to go to America and fight for justice. Hire lawyers, the press, and reach the truth. Only the truth,” he told Channel 4 News.

“Because if this is going to continue, it will end badly for the American people. If my sons are going to be shot without reason… that’s going to come to every house if it’s not going to be done by law. The law needs to be observed.”

A private funeral was held for 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, one of the three victims, on Monday.