Relatives grew alarmed one year ago about the “increasingly extremist” Muslim views of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, ABC News reported.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspect killed Thursday night after a shootout with police, spent six months in Russia beginning in January 2012. During that time, he was actually kicked out of his uncle’s house because of his extremist views, one family member in Russia said.
One aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva, told reporters Friday that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had not been a “devout” Muslim until about two years ago, when he began praying five times a day.
A YouTube account attributed to Tamerlan Tsarnaev featured radical Islamic content, including a video of a fundamentalist Australian Muslim preacher and another video about a prophecy embraced by Al-Qaeda. The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev in 2011 after a tip from the Russian government, but did not find any domestic or foreign terrorism activity.
Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told ABC News it was the six months Tsarnaev spent in Russia that was a significant point for his radicalization.
“When he came back he starting posting more radical jihadist YouTube videos and started becoming more of a fundamentalist Muslim,” McCaul (R-Texas) said. “My concern is that he may have gone over there to visit his father and he received training and then became radicalized and then came back. Something happened in that period of time. He was not like that before.”
The family member, however, insisted to ABC that Tsarnaev had become radicalized in the United States before his visit.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar, were ethnic Chechens, their uncle Ruslan Tsarni told reporters Friday. Dzhokhar was captured alive by authorities late Friday night.
Despite mounting evidence, other family members — including the brothers’ parents — have indicated they believe they were framed.
Tsarnaev had been married to an American woman — who converted to Islam — and had a 3-year-old daughter.