During an interview with CNN, Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the two Boston bombing suspects, claimed that his older nephew had been “brainwashed” with radical Islamic ideology by a “friend” in Cambridge, Mass., though he did not reveal that person’s identity. As investigators continue to search for a possible motive and any other individuals involved in the deadly terror attack, it is almost certain that federal officials will want to talk to this “friend.”
Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., said his nephew, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, told him in a 2009 phone conversation that he had chosen “God’s business” over work or school. It was at this point that Tsarni says he contacted a family friend who told him Tsarnaev had been influenced by a recent convert to Islam.
Tsarni said the two hadn’t spoken since that call.
Tamerlan, 26, was killed during an intense gun battle and car chase during which he and his younger brother reportedly thew explosives at police from the stolen car they were driving. The younger suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, somehow eluded police.
As for his younger nephew, Tsarni said “he’s been absolutely wasted by his older brother. I mean, he used him. He used him for whatever he’s done.”
Police captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev late Friday night following a nearly 24-hour manhunt in Watertown, Mass. The bloody conclusion came four days after the deadly Boston bombing and one day after the FBI released surveillance-camera images of the two suspects who they believe placed the explosives that tore through the crowd at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 180 others. An MIT officer was also left dead following a carjacking on Thursday night.
In another development, the Russian FSB intelligence security service told the FBI in 2011 about information that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam, two law enforcement officials said Saturday.
According to an FBI news release, a foreign government said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev appeared to be strong believer and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the U.S. for travel to the Russian region to join unspecified underground groups.
The FBI did not name the foreign government, but the two officials said it was Russia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the matter publicly.
The FBI said that in response, it interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and relatives, and did not find any domestic or foreign terrorism activity. The bureau said it looked into such things as his telephone and online activity, his travels and his associations with others.
As of Saturday, more than 50 victims of the bombing remained hospitalized, three in critical condition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.