News / Europe

    Boston Bomber Spent 6 Months in Russia’s Most Violent Republic

    Boston Bomber Spent 6 Months in Russia’s Most Violent Republici
    X
    May 20, 2013 1:39 PM
    The news of the Boston Marathon bombings circled the globe, and resonated here in Dagestan, a majority Muslim republic in Russia, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Last year, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of two brothers suspected of the bombings and a long-time Boston resident, returned to Dagestan, where he had lived for a year during his youth. Dagestan was the land of his maternal ancestors. But in the last two years, this republic of 3 million people has gained notoriety as the region with the highest level of political and religious violence in all of Russia. VOA's James Brooke reports from Makhachkala, Russia.
    James Brooke
    The news of the Boston Marathon bombings circled the globe, and resonated here in Dagestan, a majority Muslim republic in Russia, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
     
    Last year, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of two brothers suspected of the bombings and a longtime Boston resident, returned to Dagestan, where he had lived for a year during his youth.
     
    Dagestan was the land of his maternal ancestors. But in the last two years, this republic of 3 million people has gained notoriety as the region with the highest level of political and religious violence in all of Russia.

    Seeking sharia law

    Tsarnaev mainly stayed in the capital, Makhachkala, where he lived with his father. He prayed nearby at the al-Nadiria mosque, a conservative place named after its founder who was fatally shot 10 years ago.
     
    The current imam, Hassan Mahomedovich, does not remember Tsarnaev. He says members want sharia law, but oppose violence.
     
    "Here in the mosque there are no extremists there is no one person with an extremist position. We are orderly only, smart, literate, well-educated Muslims," said Mahomedovich, 73.

    Across the street, graffiti reads: "Victory or Heaven."
     
    One mosque member who did not want to be identified said he thought that Tsarnaev was framed by American security services.
     
    This view was pushed here by Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat, who gave an angry press conference after her oldest son was killed in a shootout with Boston police. She said that her son was innocent, and that he was set up, and then killed by American security services.

    Cousin's influence

    Boston coroners say that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's bullet wounds were compounded by his younger brother Dzhokar running him over in a getaway car.
     
    Later, the mother told reporters that Tamerlan’s greatest influence in Dagestan was a third cousin -- Magomed Kartashov, head of the Union of the Just, a pro-sharia group in the town of Kizlyar.
     
    VOA drove two hours north, and talked to Rasim Ibadanov, a Union of the Just leader. He remembers Tsarnaev as a happy, humorous person.

    “When we found out from the first time that it was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, that was a huge shock for us,” said Ibadanov, in a barbecue restaurant where other members had gathered.

    Ibadanov said his group walks a fine line: advocating sharia law, but promoting non-violence.
     
     “Yes, we say that we want to live in a sharia society, but we aren’t calling for some kind of destabilization or overthrow of the government, or any other kind of radical or extreme actions," said Ibadanov, a 30-year-old computer specialist. "We are just saying our opinions."
     
    Kartashov, the third cousin, could not be interviewed. His lawyer said he was in a prison hospital, recovering from a police beating after being arrested with a wedding motorcade that flew black flags with Arabic writing.

    Extremist attacks
     

    Ibadanov said police are jailing a nonviolent man and claiming he was a radical mentor to Tsarnaev.
     
     “We think that they are trying to discredit him and claim that he is some kind of illogical extremist, and that he had some effect on radicalizing Tamerlan Tsarnaev," he said.

    But extremist attacks - and counter-terrorist operations - are weekly events in Dagestan.
     
    Returning to Makhachkala, a reporter passed through Chirkey. Last August, a suicide bomber killed six people here, including one of Dagestan’s most revered moderate Muslim leaders.

    Official repression
     
    Further down the road, we arrived in Buinaksk, just hours after a policeman and a civilian were killed in a police car. Before that, security officials had blown up a house of suspected extremists.
     
    Zarema Bagavotdinova runs a human rights group for conservative Muslims in the city. She shows us the remains of the house.
     
    “They called me and said that there was a house search," she recalled of the "counter-terrorist operation." "Then, around 8:30, they called and said they supposedly found explosive materials that they couldn’t defuse, and that they blew them together with the house.”
     
    Analysts believe that Tsarnaev came to Dagestan from Boston with radical world views formed from readings he found on the Internet. Here in Dagestan, he saw that some people try to score religious and political points with bombs.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    May 20, 2013 9:23 PM
    The only reason for the incessant violence in Dagestan and the unstable situation in neighboring Chechnya is the violent policy waged by the Kremlin. Their consequences became the cause of new violence. How can anybody install law and order by violence and intimidation in the freedom loving republic, when the basic human rights are permanently suspended all over Russia? About what political stability one can dream when for 12 years the Kremlin is unable to create an atmosphere of flourishing economic activity, investments and everybody’s interdependence?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.