After I posted on Facebook to promote my Friday night story about what the aunt, uncles, mom and dad of Dzokhar and Tamarlan Tsarnaev had to say to reporters, I got a lot of comments including, “who cares,” or “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” or “let them rot in hell.”
Everyone has a family. I’ve been doing stories for 10 years, interviewing moms of children that were killed in car accidents, wives of men killed on 9/11, dads whose children are suffering from debilitating and deadly diseases. They are the some of the most insightful and soulful interviews I’ve ever done.
But the family members of the Boston bombing suspects? If you listened to four of them, you might think wow, I’ve got this all wrong. Angels. That’s how aunt Maret Tsarnaeva described the men.
Here’s a direct quote, “Some reporter said to me this morning here, do you know last report when Tamerlan was circled he was wearing explosives. I said did you see him with your own two eyes, Tamerlan ID’d already that it was at Tamerlan, that he was standing there with explosives? I cannot take this kind of information lightly. What century are we living in? We need evidence.”
Well yes, we do need evidence. And as a reporter, I’ve got to use the word “allegedly,” until the surviving suspect is convicted and then I can call him, let’s say, the “Boston Bomber,” if I so choose. But, as you can see, that woman is in some serious denial.
Let’s hear from their father, Anzor Tsarnaev now. Here’s the soundbite I used in my piece Friday night, “Someone framed them. I don’t know who exactly did it. But someone did. And being cowards, they shot the boy dead. There are cops like this.”
I know what you’re thinking, because I was too. But remember, he was in Dagestan, Russia when he said this. I can assume he wasn’t watching CBS News’ around the clock coverage of this disgusting and tragic act of terror. Let’s assume he didn’t understand the gravity of the bombing. Or he’s just drinking from the same cup of denial Maret has.
Here’s a transcript of the rest of his interview. This took place AFTER Tamarlan was killed and BEFORE Dzokhar was taken into custody.
Q: WHEN YOU TRY CALLING THE YOUNGER ONE, THE PHONE IS OFF?
“All phones are switched off. I can’t get through to my brothers even. One of them is a great lawyer and I can’t get through to him. I want to get more information; those are my kids, you understand? I’m afraid for my other boy. Maybe he will be shot dead too. They will say, well, he had weapons. Kids with weapons? You don’t find weapons in a garbage dump. I have nothing more to say. It’s all because I’m afraid for my son and his life. They should arrest him maybe and bring him but alive. Alive. And justice should decide who’s right and who’s guilty.”
Q: YOU’VE BEEN LIVING THERE (THE U.S.) FOR A LONG TIME. HAVE YOU EVER HAD ANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE JUSTICE THERE?
“No never. But I just didn’t face it ever. So can I know about the justice there. I didn’t have any problems.”
Q: THE DAY BEFORE YOUSPOKE TO YOUR ELDER SON. WHAT DID HE TELL YOU?
“He said everything was okay. I even asked him how’s Dzhokar? Did you help him, look after him and make sure he’s studying well? So he would spend less time with friends and more time studying. You quit the university because you got married early. So let the kid at least graduate. Because in this life a person who doesn’t learn is working, working hard. That’s why I’m always telling them study.”
Q: DID YOU TALK ABOUT THIS EXPLOSION AND WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
“No. Not at all. Thanks Allah that they were not there and didn’t suffer. This is it. So what explosion? I honestly can’t imagine who could do this. Whoever did it is a bastard. I have nothing more to say.”
But, I think most telling is the interview with the men’s mother, Zubeidat. It is through her that we learn the FBI has apparently tracked Tamarlan, “He was controlled by FBI for 3-5 years, they knew what my son was doing, they knew what actions and what the sites on internet he was going. How could this happen? They were controlling every step of him and they’re telling today that it’s a terrorist act. “
This, of course, lead to all sorts of questions about what the FBI knew and didn’t know. Tamarlan was questioned in 2011, at the request of the Russian government and released. Apparently, they said they didn’t find any incriminating information. More on that in the days to come.
The family is the first place a reporter goes to find out information about someone. Here, we find a family in denial. There is one uncle who lives in Maryland who is on the other side, hebelieves the two are responsible for the bombing and is disgusted by them and the shame he says they’ve brought upon his family. But, the majority of family members are backing up – at least right now – the notion that the men are innocent, and were framed.
If you were to ask my parents about anything I’m involved in currently, they may know a few things, they could speak to my character, my work ethic, they could tell you who my boyfriend is, that my car is currently in the shop, and that I like to run. But, they have no idea about many aspects of my life, including this blog. It’s not that I’m hiding it from them, it just never came up. And don’t even call up my brother, he knows less. So, it’s not surprising that mom and dad Tsarnaev think their boys are angels. No parent can picture their children doing something like this. I don’t think so, anyway.
Yes, in many cases, the family interview provides the most compelling insight, but in this