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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs