"I am 100 percent sure this is a setup," Zubeidat Tsarnaev said in an interview with Russia Today state television from her home in Dagestan. She disclosed that the elder brother, Tamerlan, 26, who was killed in a shootout with police, became involved in Islam five years ago but never expressed any violent intentions.
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“He started following some religious aspects, and he never never told me that he would be on side of jihad,” she said.
Dzhokhar, 19, is still being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, suffering from serious wounds. It is not clear when he would be charged.
He was reported in serious but stable condition and unable to be interrogated. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Tsarnaev is likely "not able to communicate yet."
FBI manhunt (Photo: AFP)
The brothers spent their early years in a small community of Chechens in the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim nation of 5.5 million. The family moved in 2001 to Dagestan, a southern Russian province that lies at the heart of a violent Islamist insurgency and where their parents now live.
Tsarnaev claimed neither one of her sons intimated a desire to carry out a terrorist attack.
They “would never hide it from me,” she said, “but never ever even a word.”
“My youngest one, he was raised in America. My oldest son, he was proper," she said. Tsarnaev claimed that Tamerlan could not have committed the acts attributed to him as he was under FBI surveillance. “He was counseled by FBI for at least five years,” she said. “They knew what my son was doing. They knew what action, what sites on Internet he was going.”
Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev (Photo: Reuters)
The mother claimed that the FBI agents who spoke to her described her son as a "serious leader" and were "afraid of him." The FBI confirmed Friday that agents had interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and other family members in 2011 at the request of an unnamed foreign government and “did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign.”
Asked to explain the violent chase her sons were involved in, she replied: "I don't believe it. My sons never spoke about those things. I was their mother, I raised them, they were highly intelligent.
Dzhokhar receiving medical attention (Photo: Reuters)
"The FBI were scared of my son, they always told me he's a leader, he talks about Islam a lot. They were telling me he was getting information from extremist sites, they were very afraid of him, and that's why I think this is a set-up."
The suspects' father also maintains his sons are innocent. "Somebody clearly framed them. I don't know who exactly framed them, but they did. They framed them. And they were so cowardly that they shot the boy dead," Anzor Tsarnaev said in an interview with Reuters in Dagestan's provincial capital, Makhachkala, clasping his head in despair.
Meanwhile, early indications are that the two likely acted alone, the Watertown, Massachusetts, police chief told CNN on Saturday.
"From what I know right now, these two acted together and alone," he said. "But as far as this little cell or this little group, I think we got our guys."
AP contributed to this report
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