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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid