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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.