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Boston Bombing Suspect Mentally ‘Normal,’ Mother Says After Call

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is accused of carrying out the April 15 attack, which killed three people and injured at least 260, with his brother Tamerlan, who died after a shootout with police. Source: FBI via Bloomberg

May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is recuperating and sounds “normal,” his mother said following the first phone conversation with her son since his arrest.

“I couldn’t stop myself from crying,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said in an phone interview late yesterday from Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s Dagestan region. “He said: ‘I am absolutely fine, my wounds are healing. Everything is in God’s hands. Be patient. Everything will be fine.’”

Tsarnaev, 19, is accused of carrying out the April 15 attack, which killed three people and injured at least 260, with his brother Tamerlan, who died after a shootout with police. He was arrested April 19 and is being held at an all-male federal prison hospital in Ayer, Massachusetts, recovering from a gunshot wound to the neck. Tsarnaev faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

One of his lawyers, Judy Clarke has specialized in death penalty cases, representing “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and 1996 Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, where mental health was an issue. Clarke is a former U.S. public defender in San Diego and Spokane, Washington, who is now in private practice.

“Mentally he is normal but the child is shocked,” Tsarnaeva said. “It was really hard to hear him and for him to hear me. The conversation was very quiet. It was my child, I know he is locked up like a dog, like an animal.”

Six Minutes

The conversation lasted for about six minutes, Tsarnaeva said, adding that she was promised one call a month.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers will probably blame his involvement on the “overpowering influence” of his 26-year-old brother, said Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties and defense attorney. Tamerlan Tsarnaev “appears to have been an embittered and dangerous character, and it is well known that older siblings have tremendous power over younger siblings,” he said in an interview last month.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and her husband Anzor emigrated to the U.S. in 2002 with their two boys and two girls, and divorced in 2011. She left the U.S. for Russia while facing shoplifting charges filed last year. In an interview last month with Russian state television channel RT, she said her sons were innocent and had been set up, questioning how they could have carried out the bombing with Tamerlan under FBI surveillance for at least three years.

Extremist Islam

Tsarnaev initially communicated to investigators by nods and in writing that he and his brother alone were responsible for the bombings and were motivated by extremist Islam, according to a U.S. official briefed on the initial interrogation. He also indicated they weren’t aligned with any known terrorist or military groups.

The Tsarnaev brothers were capable of such a crime, the leader of the Russia’s Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov, said in a statement on his website yesterday. While ethnic Chechens, they had no link to the region, he said.

“I checked information about the brothers through my own contacts,” Kadyrov said. “Those who knew them well say they were capable of carrying out illegal acts in any country.”

By contrast, a 27-year-old Chechen man who knew Tamerlan and who was shot dead during questioning last week in Florida was a “good guy,” Kadyrov said.

Ibragim Todashev’s father works in the Chechen government, Kadyrov said. “In his last phone conversation with his father, he told him that he wants to come home because they started to persecute Chechens in America.”

Law-enforcement officials were questioning Todashev on May 22 about a triple-murder he was suspected of committing two years ago with Tamerlan when he became irritated and lunged at officers, according to two officials who asked for anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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