Tsarnaev Neighbors: Older Bombing Suspect Spent Time in Dagestan Helping Dad With Construction

"He was a normal son helping his father," Agayev, a neighbor who lives in the same apartment building as Anzor Tsarnaev, the brothers' father, told TIME on Sunday

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DMITRY KOSTYUKOV for TIME

A house where accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived with his father in Makhachkala, May 15, 2013.

As American law-enforcement agencies investigating the Boston Marathon bombings turn their attention to a visit last year to Dagestan by the older of the two brothers suspected in the attack, neighbors of the brothers on Sunday offered an explanation for what Tamerlan Tsarnaev was doing for much of his time in the Russian republic: he was fixing up his father’s home. “He was a normal son helping his father,” Agayev, a neighbor who lives in the same apartment building as Anzor Tsarnaev, the brothers’ father, told TIME on Sunday. “He worked on the remodeling every day he was here, from morning till night.”

The Tsarnaev home is a first-floor property on Oleg Koshelov Street, a rutted lane in the center of the regional capital of Dagestan. Neighbors recalled the 26-year-old suspected bomber, who died in a confrontation with police during the manhunt that ended with his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar surrendering to police, pouring cement for a walkway and fixing up the interior of the apartment throughout his six-month visit in 2012. His father, who had moved back to Dagestan from the U.S. about two years earlier, was planning to open a perfume shop in the apartment or rent it out as a beauty salon, neighbors said. “We called him ‘the perfumer,'” says one neighbor, who would only give his first name, Vyacheslav, referring to the elder Tsarnaev. “That’s the business he was in.”

(MORE: Joe Klein: Seven Lessons From the Boston Bombing)

So far there appears to be no evidence that links Tamerlan Tsarnaev to any of the Islamist militant groups that have long fought Russia in Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya, but his time there last year is coming under increasing scrutiny, as investigators try to piece together what motivated the brothers. Some media reports have suggested Tsarnaev spent some time traveling in the region during his visit. House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that Tsarnaev might have traveled to Dagestan under a false name. “It would lead one to believe that’s probably where he got that final radicalization to push him to commit acts of violence and where he may have received training on what we ultimately saw last Monday,” Rogers said.

anzor_tsarnaev

Reuters TV / Reuters

Anzor Tsarnaev gives an interview in Makhachkala in this video grab on April 19, 2013

Anzor Tsarnaev’s neighbors on Sunday rejected suggestions that Anzor’s son was radicalized during his visit last year. Although most of the neighbors declined to give their names, they were only too eager to defend the Tsarnaevs as upstanding and well-to-do members of the community. They dismissed any talk that Tamerlan, who appears to have posted videos on YouTube of Dagestani militants calling for armed jihad, may have been sympathetic to Islamist extremism. “He went to the main mosque every Friday with his father for services,” says Agayev. “So what? Christians go to church, Muslims go to mosques. There’s nothing radical about that.”

(PHOTOS: Images: Joy and Relief in Boston After Bombing Suspect’s Arrest)

In their eagerness to find some explanation for what happened, the neighbors offered theories that seemed to get ever more elaborate. Vyacheslav at first suggested the most popular theory now floating around Dagestan — that the Tsarnaev brothers were “set up” by American intelligence agencies — but he also said the true conspirators could have been neo-Nazi groups or “private contractors.” Any kind of explanation seemed more plausible to the neighbors than the one coming from television news — that the man they had seen helping his father build a family business had committed a terrorist attack on civilians on the other side of the Atlantic. “I can’t explain it,” Agayev says finally. “But it can’t be what everyone is saying. It doesn’t make any sense.”

MORE: How Did the Tsarnaevs Let a Carjacking Hostage Get Away?

36 comments
cesarabe2013
cesarabe2013

You have to see the big picture. Prior to Tamerlan trip to Russian in 2012, in 2010 the Russian warn the FBI this guy was up to no good. For the Russian to warn the US 2 years ago makes me belief this guy was already being radicalized, perhaps by Jihadist web pages he was watching while being in the US. That seems to be the most logical explanation. The FBI or the US intelligence drop the ball on this one.

libertyfreedompatriot
libertyfreedompatriot

"They dismissed any talk that Tamerlan may have been sympathetic to Islamist extremism."

The delusion of these people knows no bounds. People of Chechnya, listen carefully: these two thugs were motivated by Islam/Jihad, period. Since killing infidels is explicitly condoned in the Koran, that should not be a surprise. Like true Chechens (see Beslan 2004), they added their own twist: killing and maiming innocent children -- for the glory of Allah!

kellyjo5150
kellyjo5150

These people have had to lie and dissemble and conceal their true lives from authorities for centuries.  A big mouth would get their throat slit or  a Russian interrogation where water boarding would be the 'easy' stuff.

wotsales
wotsales

Terry McVeigh was Catholic, we didn't do much about that.

DavidLoving
DavidLoving

Maybe if the FBI had gotten started on this investigation when Russia [collegially]  tipped them off, they'd know already.  Nice going, FBI, you're a credit to the bureaucracy.

mkc0124
mkc0124

I wonder if Americans are ever going to be as interested in the cause of the explosion in West, Texas as the attack in Boston.  I wonder because half a town was literally leveled and far more people were killed and injured in Texas than in Boston and yet nary a bleep about it in the news.  I guess it falls into the same category as the Arkansas oil spill where press were denied near the area and flights over the spill area were banned based on pressure Exxon put on local authorities.  The likelihood of an industrial accident in a poorly regulated state becoming a disaster of this scale is far higher than the risk or likelihood of another "terrorist" attack.

ByondPolitics
ByondPolitics

That's a pretty different view from what his father said, right? The father said that he slept in all the time and was lazy. I can't understand why we're letting people spout nonsense without any attempt to verify their statements with facts. This isn't journalism, it's sensationalism and creates future monsters.

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

The True God doesn't ever need anyone to kill for Him......He Himself surrended to the death of the Cross, so we might Live with Him forever.......

...........John 10:18.......
No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

JenniferHerrera
JenniferHerrera

Yeah those other people cant believe it. That is because the brothers thought we wouldn't figure out who did the bombing. They walked away from the blast with faces that had smirks. Like they did something no one would figure out. They had a perfect front. Jeffery Dahmer was a good neighbor too. But some smart people do crazy things. Take for instance the astrounaut that drove half way across a country in a diaper with a plan to kill. Get real people dont want to believe unless they have it happen to them.

DanCummings
DanCummings

C'mon people, don't carry this "who radicalized them stuff" over the edge.

Look at the Youtube videos. Look at his actions last week. He could well have been self-radicalized -- people do read books, think and watch videos on their own. And, according to the Wall Street Journal he and his mother were increasingly religious over the past 5 years, which led hiall his mom while being chased by police and firing guns and tossing bombs at them. Most people wouldn't call their mom at a moment like that. He didn't call m to stop drinking, smoking, going barechested, etc. The mother seems to be a key of sorts but he was his own actor, perhaps. Although he did chis wife.

Some causes can't be controlled. It's a free country. But we can be vigilant. And when the FBI get s a tip from Russia and then drops the ball after interviewing him and his mom -- you think that's not a tip-off? -- well, the only other thing we can consider is perhaps he duped the FBI into paying him as an undercover agent.



Don_Ko
Don_Ko

I'm just curious if there's any conspiracy 'theories' floating around in Tsarnaev's community or Dagestan that the brother could have actually been set up by Russian Fed intelligence agencies?  

If anything, if one is truly going to consider a deeper conspiracy theory other than the brothers doing this for a Jihad, it would seem that Russian Federal Intel agencies would have far greater interests in exploiting (and setting up) such a clandestine attack, than would secretive US agency interests?  The obvious diversion and disinformation of course, would then be to disseminate theories that it was US intel involvement (a very popular theory for just about anything, sadly, post-9/11).

For example, perhaps the suggested 'other' foreign intel agency had some serious dirt or claims against the brothers' father, for supporting past Jihad actions?  Then told the son... if you want your father to retire peacefully with successful business, you will fight your true oppressor and true enemy when you return?  I mean, think about it -- who in fact would have a greater interest in 'setting up' a Chechen, in such a horrible act of terrorism, assuming there is some deeper conspiracy?? (note: a conspiracy which I personally don't believe at this point).

Respects to Chechens in the US and p.s. I have a good Chechen friend where I also live, in Massachusetts.

jimmy6p
jimmy6p

Much to find out. Not much being talked about.

How can the "authorities" say that they don't know if they'll EVER be able to question this kid? They say he might not be able to talk. He has a Facebook account, so he does know how to write. He knows how to use a keyboard. What exactly are they trying to tell us, or not tell us? 

There are too many unanswered questions, not the least of which is, how come, right after 911, and right after Boston, there are supposedly unconnected people mailing white powder to other people? That hasn't even been mentioned by the police, or to my knowledge, the press. 

Any ideas?

ToddGilbert
ToddGilbert

Some people are just ignorant  and don't want to face the facts. Unbelievable conspiracy  theories. Of course Islam plays into this.

GuntherHolman
GuntherHolman

Of course the followers of Islam are saying the two dear brothers were "set up." They would never admit that Islam had anything to do with their heinous crimes against humanity.  

Watching
Watching

@JenniferHerrera 

Did you know that there is footage of Tamerlan being arrested ALIVE and NOT riddled with bullets? Google 'tamerlan arrested alive'.


You are being lied to; dont fall for it!

Watching
Watching

@DanCummingsYou're assuming that the claim of Russian intel is legit.

You're placing absolute trust in your government AND your media in telling you this.

In the 90's CNN fabricated news reports as if they were int he field, whilst they were only in a studio set up.

You're right, he could have been self motivating however that is complete speculation unlike here, the neighbors, his father, his mother, all are parallel with the claim that he and his brother are not terrorists.

There is simply TOO much conflicting evidence. 

Did you know that there is footage of Tamerlan being arrested ALIVE?

Google this: "tamerlan arrested alive".

UdaiSingh
UdaiSingh

@marshqregiment “In an interview on Russian television, the mother of the two suspects said the FBI had been in contact with her son for several years.” What one is to make out of it. Are US authorities  eliminating evidence of FBI’s several years long association with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Many other questions are also hanging out there seeking answers

1- Who was paying for MIT education and partying ( which is not cheap for a third world family) of the younger brother. Remember family lives in non opulent flat in Dagestan, elder brother was totally  living off his 70 hours/ week working white wife.

2 - How the family moved in & out of US unhindered, number of times?  Ex President of India, a 70 years old man was detained at US airport.

3- Brothers had enough arsenal to arm a minor army. Who gave money? 

4- Why the White wife has not been interviewed for so many days. Does she know too much. Is FBI busy debriefing her, first.

Pakistan has been running terrorist training camps' for three decades. These terrorists were after all Ronald Reagan’s Freedom Fighters. Also Afghan, Yamani, Saudi  and Pakistani jihadists have been operating in Chechnya and southern Caucasus.   

Were the Boaston Bombing Brothers  FBI's Chechnya and southern Caucasus operators who turned hostile and bit the hand that fed, sheltered and looked after them. If yes it will be repetition of David Hadley saga - a former FBI double agent who  masterminded Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Watching
Watching

@jimmy6p I agree. Everything now is wildly hysteric, statements made in absolutes and speculation is rife. What can anyone believe? Our perceptions are entirely governed by this media input. I have low confidence in everything we are being told. 

Did you know that Tamerlan was arrested alive and well contrary to the shoot-out story? There is video footage of it.

WCarrington
WCarrington

@jimmy6p Hmm.  Yes, I see what you mean. You'll also note that the sky was blue on 9/11 and was blue the day before and after.  So many unanswered questions!  It's good we can shift the conversation to government conspiracies ("authorities") rather than focus on the despicable acts of the 2 scoundrels and their motivations.  You're an effing genius!

Watching
Watching

@ToddGilbert

Todd, you need to review your perception of your government and the media.

There is footage of Tamerlan being arrested alive and unbeaten, no bullet wounds (contrary to his morgue photo).

You are being lied too and you are swallowing this horse***** hook line and sinker! Dont fall for it!

Google 'tamerlan arrested alive'

JeffJohnson
JeffJohnson

@GuntherHolman 

Agreed! I'd like to ask these same people interviewed, "who did 9/11?" I'm surprised they only gave neo-nazis as possible suspects and not the jooos. Very predictable. Islam is full of conspiracy theories. They're also almost all, Truthers. 

gringobob
gringobob

I just did that, Jen.  There is no nude man being arrested or ANY man being arrested.  There's just a dead man lying in the street and a buncha cops running around.  Not much of a conspiracy theorist, are you?

DonKoh
DonKoh

@  Watching -

Forget your request to Google search 'tamerlan arrested alive'!

That look-a-like guy in the Youtube video being taken into questioning is NOT Tamerlan!  And that video was taken BEFORE the fatal shoot-out with Tamerlan!

Other than that, it has been reported by Russian Govt themselves that they did in fact warn FBI about Tamerlan in prior years.  So that claim made by RusGov is legit, regardless of whether FBI actually did get detailed warning about the brother or not.

However, that would explain the obvious reports and rumors about Tamerlan being questioned or interviewed by FBI in past years.  Fact is, many people since 9/11 have been taken in for questioning/interview based on tip offs by foreign govts, family, or neighbors or employers, etc.  That's the ugly truth about the post 9/11 reality is that law enforcement needs to follow up on a ton of 'tip offs' and that includes the very sensitive and unfortunate need to interview people who most times are innocent and harmless!

And I'm sure you are aware that of the millions of people 'interviewed', there's usually not an arrest by law enforcement and imprisonment unless a crime was committed and sentenced to prison!  They don't just run around throwing people into secret prison camps every time Russian intel (or whomever) warns about a particular guy!

DonKoh
DonKoh

@UdaiSingh

Absolutely there are 'many questions hanging out there', Udai. And of course, everyone is curious to know the absolute truth, ASAP, to get to the bottom of understanding the full event.  But the hard truth is, we likely need to wait long time to get facts made public.  Hopefully some clarification is made sooner than later though, absolutely. 

To respond to some of your pointed and fair questions, I will answer to the best of my gut feeling but must say some of your questions and comments are a bit of a stretch and seem to be steering towards a strong pre-conceived bias, instead of taking a fully open minded approach?

1. Reportedly, yes, FBI was interviewing/questioning Tamerlan at least once, in prior years, in part, reportedly due to a tip off from Russian authorities.  Hence the questioning. Is that an 'association' with the FBI?  Maybe there was (maybe there wasn't) some deceptive deal Tamerlan made with FBI in fact, to act as informant, etc, and maybe he was in fact double dipping as a double agent so to speak. That would indeed be intriguing, but doesn't point towards FBI 'setting up' this guy, etc, etc. C'mon I think you are smarter than that.

2.  Dzhokhar, 19, was NOT an MIT student! He was apparently enrolled at UMASS-Dartmouth, a state school, and had reportedly received State scholarship money, or City-scholarship (there's a discrepancy) to attend.

3. The family moved in and out of the US a number of times unhindered? Um, sir? The family apparently had legal residence, or naturalized citizenship, so why wouldn't they be able to travel freely?  Not sure really, about what your point there is, sorry.

4. Who gave Tamerlan the money to buy so many guns (was it 3, or 4?) and buy the explosives?  Well, fair question, and that's probably one thing authorities are trying to investigate now, do you think?!? Perhaps there is indeed a 3rd party financier, either domestic or based abroad? Or maybe Tamerlan saved money in a fund, taking from his wife??  Either way, 3 or 4 guns is not a massive war chest. C'mon, let's talk real.

5. How do you know that Tamerlan's 'White wife' was NOT interviewed by FBI?!? Do you have a link for that media report that she is not being interviewed? I would hope also, that she was one of the first to be interviewed and would likely be asked to follow-up if needed?  She probably, in all honesty, just told them, he's gone crazy, something happened, we had a disagreement, etc. But also to state, reportedly Tamerlan told his ethnic friends that he didn't have one American friend... assuming he meant not 1, other than his American wife?  So right there... some flags can definitely be raised about his personality and possible vulnerabilities/insecurities, etc, unfortunately.

As for Dzhokhar, 19? My immediate gut feeling is that the kid was trying to fit into his local American society in Boston area. He was a star wrestler in HS reportedly and was well though-of by his American neighbors as being sweet and had American friends. I truly feel the kid was influenced/brainwashed by his older brother and loved his brother enough out of family loyalty to stick with him, possibly not even knowing the extent to which he was getting involved. That's a direct possibility, in my gut, that Dzhokhar did not even know the full plans being prepared ahead of time by the older Brother.

jimmy6p
jimmy6p

@Watching @jimmy6p I don't know if I'll be around when the truth finally surfaces on this one. I'm just learning about JFK and I was 13 when he was murdered. The public always has to wait until the suspects die of old age or have boating accidents.

Watching
Watching

@WCarrington @jimmy6p Carrington, can you do simple arithmetic?

aka mathematics?

ok, do you know what maths is?

There are plenty of unanswered questions both here and in 9/11.

You have bought the media backwash just as so many people did in the 90's with CNN's fabricated reports.

This is nothing new - in 2006 REUTERS suffered massive public relations disaster when several of its photographers were digitally editing photo's and even getting locals to act and play out scenarios.


You think the world is transparent? You need to wake up or as Jimmy6p said, grow up.

jimmy6p
jimmy6p

@WCarrington @jimmy6p Maybe we can compare notes. After you grow up. If that's as deep into a subject as you can get, now would just be a waste of time. Mine anyway.

gringobob
gringobob

@mkc0124 @gringobob Yep, I searched for exactly what you cited.  Watched it twice.  No stripping, no searching, no arresting.

mkc0124
mkc0124

@gringobobwell I don't know about any conspiracy theories but there was a man forced to strip nude who was arrested.  I watched it unfold on live television.  Perhaps you're not searching properly on Google.

mkc0124
mkc0124

@DonKoh - I read a piece that said that the FBI requested more specific information from the Russian intelligence service because they'd found no ties to extremism during their investigation and were wanting clarification but never received it.  I'm not sure why or if they let it go after that but it's certainly a question I'd like an answer to eventually.