Boston Bombing: Suspects' Parents Defend Sons at News Conference

Anzor Tsarnaev and  Zubeidat Tsarnaeva - H 2013
Getty Images

Anzor Tsarnaev and  Zubeidat Tsarnaeva - H 2013

Their mother tells the media they are innocent and charges a murder conspiracy; meanwhile, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reveals that his city was next on the list of targets.

The parents of the two brothers accused of carrying out the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon earlier this month drew international media attention with a news conference Thursday, where they defended their sons and maintained their innocence.

During the news conference, held in Dagestan, Russia, Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told the media that their sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, have no connection to radical Islam. The event came after the couple had been questioned by the FBI for two days.

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Despite the fact that U.S. officials have released video showing the brothers near the site of the marathon bombing, Tsarnaeva, their mother, said she will not accept that they could be guilty.

“No I don’t -- and I won’t,” she said, as quoted by The New York Times. "Never!"

They also made conspiracy accusations against American authorities in the wake of Tamerlan's death. U.S. officials have said that Tamerlan was shot during a standoff with police and run over by a car that was being driven by Dzhokhar as the latter escaped. Dzhokhar has been captured and charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. He potentially faces the death penalty if he is convicted.

Speaking in a mix of English and Russian, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said before the attack, the F.B.I. had visited her at her family’s U.S. home and asked about her older sons’ religious activities.

“Actually, they told me, don’t you think that Tamerlan is being a little bit, you know, like, extreme about religion?” she said. “Probably that was their meaning: terroristic, terrorism or whatever, aggression.”

The agents, she said, asked if she noticed aggression in her older son. She responded that she didn’t.

Tsarnaeva claims that she has seen video on the Web appearing to show Tamerlan alive and being put into a police car; she says he is naked in the video, apparently so that investigators could check for explosives. She says the next day she saw the images of his dead body.

"Killed, truly killed," she said, referring to the images. "I wanted to scream, to scream to the whole world: ‘What did you do? What have you done with my son?’ He was alive. Why did they need to kill him? Why not send him to Guantánamo or whatever? Why did they kill him? Why did they have to kill him? They got him alive. He was in their hands.”

She added that she's considering giving up her American citizenship.

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"Yes, I would prefer not to live in America now. Like, why did I even go there — why?” Tsarnaeva said, getting emotional. “I thought America was going to, like, protect us, our kids, it was going to be safe for any reason. But it happened the opposite. My kids — America took my kids away from me — only America. So why wouldn’t I regret? Why?”

She added: "I am sure that my kids were not involved in anything."

Also on Thursday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg held his own press conference during which he revealed New York was next on the list of the attackers' targets.

"Immediately upon news of the explosions in Boston, we fully mobilized the New York City Police Department's vast counterterrorism operations – because we thought there was a possibility that there could be a related attack here," he said. "We now know that that possibility was – in fact – all too real. Last night, we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets."

Bloomberg continued: "He told the FBI apparently that he and his brother had intended to drive to New York and detonate additional explosives in Times Square. They had built those additional explosives, and we know they had the capacity to carry out the attacks."

Three people were killed and more than 260 wounded in the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line.