Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Father: They Were Set Up! [VIDEO]
The Boston Marathon bombing suspects are brothers from the Russian region of Chechnya. They are identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19. The father of Boston bombing suspect says son is accomplished medical student and 'a true angel.'
One of the brothers is dead and the other on the run in Boston this morning, the subject of a massive manhunt.
In an anguished interview, the father of the suspects, Anzor Tsarnaev, spoke with The Associated Press by telephone from the southern Russian republic of Dagestan after police said one of his sons, 26-year-old Tamerlan, had been killed in a shootout and the other, Dzhokhar, was being intensely pursued.
"My son is a true angel," the elder Tsarnaev said. He said his son was "an intelligent boy" who was studying medicine.
"They were set up, they were set up!" he exclaimed. "I saw it on television; they killed my older son Tamerlan."
Tsarnaev, badly agitated, gave little more information and ended the call angrily, saying, "Leave me alone, my son's been killed."
The younger Tsarnaev gave few clues as to his inner life on his profile on Vkontakte, a Russian equivalent of Facebook, though he did include websites about Islam among his favorites.
The family's origins are in Chechnya, the mostly Muslim Russian republic where separatist rebels fought two full-scale wars with Russian forces since 1994.
The suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., told The Associated Press that the brothers lived together near Boston and have been in the United States for about a decade. They traveled here together from the Russian region near Chechnya.
Before moving to the United States, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lived briefly in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic that has become the epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On his page on the social networking site VKontakte, Tsarnaev said he attended School No. 1 from 1999 until 2001.
The principal of School No. 1 in Makhachkala, Irina Bandurina, told the AP that Tsarnaev left for the U.S. in March 2002.
ABC News says the two have paramilitary training.
A terrorist expert told WCVB TV that this development shows that the bombing may be part of a bigger global terrorism plan.
ABC's Brian Ross says that Chechnyian terrorists are aligned al-Queda and are able to easily mix with American crowds because of their looks.
Russia's Caucasus: A Breeding Ground for Terror
Militants from Chechnya and other restive regions in Russia's volatile North Caucasus have targeted Moscow and other areas with bombings and hostage-takings, but the allegations of involvement in the Boston Marathon explosions would mark the first time they had conducted a terror attack in the West.
The conflict in Chechnya began in 1994 as a separatist war, but quickly morphed into an Islamic insurgency whose adepts vow to carve out an independent Islamic state in the Caucasus.
Russian troops withdrew from Chechnya in 1996 after the first Chechen war, leaving it de-facto independent and largely lawless, but then rolled back three years later following apartment building explosions in Moscow and other cities blamed on the rebels.
Chechnya has stabilized under the steely grip of Kremlin-backed local strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel whose forces were accused of massive rights abuses. But the Islamic insurgency has spread to neighboring provinces, with Dagestan, sandwiched between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, becoming the epicenter of violence with militants launching daily attacks against police and other authorities.
Militants from Chechnya and neighboring provinces have launched a long series of terror attacks in Russia, including a 2002 hostage-taking raid in Moscow's theater, in which 129 hostages died, a 2004 hostage-taking in a school in the southern city of Beslan that killed more than 330 people, and numerous bombings in Moscow and other cities.
In recent years, however, militants in Chechnya, Dagestan and other neighboring provinces have largely refrained from attacks outside the Caucasus.
The allegations of the Caucasus men's role in the Boston's explosions would reinforce long-held claims by Russian officials that insurgents in the Caucasus have been linked to al-Qaida.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report