News / Europe

Chechen Brothers Suspected in Boston Bombings Grew Up as Refugees

A combination of handout pictures released through the FBI website show the brother suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Apr. 18, 2013.A combination of handout pictures released through the FBI website show the brother suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Apr. 18, 2013.
x
A combination of handout pictures released through the FBI website show the brother suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Apr. 18, 2013.
A combination of handout pictures released through the FBI website show the brother suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Apr. 18, 2013.
James Brooke
Russian TV reported Friday that two ethnic Chechen brothers are suspects in terrorist bombings. But, for Russians, there was a new twist: the bombings were in Boston.

In recent years, ethnic Chechens were charged in bombings of the Moscow metro, a Moscow airport and a train from Moscow. But this time, Russian reporters fleshed out the biographies of two young Chechen men, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspected of attacks in the United States.

Chechnya Republic, RussiaChechnya Republic, Russia
x
Chechnya Republic, Russia
Chechnya Republic, Russia
In Dagestan, a traditionally Islamic republic bordering Chechnya, school principal Temirmagomed Davudov said the Tsarnaev family came to Dagestan in 2001 from the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan. During World War II, Stalin deported most of the population of Chechnya to Central Asia.

Davudov told reporters that the two brothers and their two sisters attended school for one year, in 2001, in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. Then, he said, the family emigrated - apparently first to Turkey, then to the United States.

Separate lives

Oliver Bullough, Caucasus editor for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting in London, said that Chechen refugee groups often live in isolation, maintaining their traditions.

"The Chechens in Turkey, I know - I have been to several of their refugee camps,” he said Friday. “They live in total separate lives, ruled by their own people. There is no connection, really, to wider Turkish society."

When the Tsarnaev family left the Caucasus in 2002, Chechnya was in the middle of its second war of secession in one decade.

Chechen officials told reporters Friday that there was no evidence the family ever lived in Chechnya.

Jihadist videos

Andrei Soldatov, a security expert in Moscow, said he was surprised that American security officials failed to pick up on the jihadist music and video clips posted on a public YouTube site maintained for the last year by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother.

Soldatov said of the Chechen singer whose clips Tsarnaev posted:  "He is quite radical. His song are mostly about jihad. The second category is clips, or, you might say accounts, of operations carried out in Dagestan."

Angry comments are filling a Russian social network account, on Vkontakte, belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of Boston.  He lists his languages and English, Russian and Chechen, and his main interests as: “Chechnya and everything connected with the Chechen Republic."

Bullough, a frequent traveler to Chechnya, said the main tension in Chechnya is with Russia, not with the United States.

Alienation, not extremism

"I don't think there is an intrinsic anti-Western feeling in Chechen society,” he said. “Again, I would say this much more about two young men and about their own personal problems than about something ingrained in society."

On Friday, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, angrily dismissed any connection between his republic and the Tsarnaev brothers.

He posted on Instagram:  "Any attempts to draw a parallel between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if they are guilty, are futile. They grew up in the U.S., and their views and beliefs were formed there. The roots of the evil should be looked for in America."

In Chechnya, Kadyrov has imposed a conservative rule closely based on Islamic sharia law. Occasionally, he has blamed the region’s ongoing insurgency on Israel and the United States.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs