As law enforcement and media continues to explore the reportedly religious motivations of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the respectively slain and captive suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, the fundamentalist faith of their mother provides extra insight into their religious background.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, a resident of the Russian republic of Dagestan, spoke with a CNN reporter Wednesday about her view of the ongoing investigation. “My oldest son is killed, so I don’t care,” she yelled. “I don’t care if my youngest son is going to be killed today. I want the world to hear this. And I don’t care if I am going to get killed too. And I will say Allahu Akbar.”
A native Chechnyan, Tsarnaeva arrived in the United States with her then-husband, Anzor Tsarnaev, and her youngest son Dzhokhar, from the Russian republic of Dagestan around 2002 on a tourist visa. Older son Tamerlan joined the family, which settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, around 2003.
Within two years of their arrival, the family was granted asylum, thereby making them eligible for welfare benefits. On Tuesday, a report in the Boston Herald confirmed that the entire family has received welfare benefits, potentially from the time they were granted asylum in 2004 until 2012.
Anzor and Zubeidat divorced in 2011, according to court records. Some time in 2011, Anzor Tsaernaev moved from the United States back to Dagestan.
According to Alyssa Kilzer, a member of the local community who “got to know” her “pretty well” from 2008 to 2012, Ms. Tsarnaeva “made one long trip to Russia in the period of 2011-2012.” This was close to the same time period when her son, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also made a six-month trip to Russia.
The Global Post reported on Tuesday that Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled from Boston to Russia in January 2012 and returned to the United States six months later, some time near July 2012. No one has yet been able to confirm the return date, however. The Global Post reported that he spent much of his time in Russia at his father’s Dagestan residence.
Ms. Tsarnaeva was in the United States on February 24, 2012 when she registered to vote at an office of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles as part of the state’s motor voter program. She was also in the United States during the month of June, 2012, when she was arrested by the Natick, Massachusetts police on charges of shoplifting $1,600 worth of dresses from the Lord and Taylor store in that city. She failed to appear for her court appearance on that charge on October 25, 2012. Some time after her arrest, she fled to Dagestan, where she now lives.
Russia Today reported that Ms. Tsarnaeva at some point became an American citizen, but Breitbart News has been unable to confirm that report.
Ms. Kilzer, a regular customer of Ms. Tsarnaeva, who earned money by giving facials out of her family’s Cambridge residence, recently described Tsarnaeva’s increasing radicalization during the years she knew her:
I started getting facials from Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (pronounced Zu-bey-da) six years ago when I was 17 at a spa in the Boston area. She soon after left the spa and contacted my mom to have us start coming to her house, at 410 Norfolk St., right on the line of Cambridge and Somerville…
During those 2-3 hours I spent a lot of time asking her about her personal life, background and her family… [When she put on a hijab to go outside and put a parking sticker on my car once it] shouldn’t have surprised me so much, because she had become increasingly religious while I was in college. She often mentioned Allah, and the lessons of the Koran. “Allah will reward him,” she said once about my brother, when I told her that my brother and mom were close, and that I thought my brother would take care of my mom later in life.
She started to refuse to see boys who had gone through puberty, as she had consulted a religious figure and he had told her it was sacrilegious. She was often fasting…
Ms. Kilzer became so alarmed at Ms. Tsarnaeva’s increasing Islamic fundamentalism that she stopped going to her for facials in early 2012:
In my last year of college I was getting a facial from her, and asking her about why she had originally come to the United States with her family about eight or ten years previously…
During this facial session she started quoting a conspiracy theory, telling me that she thought 9/11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims. “It’s real,” she said, “My son knows all about it. You can read on the Internet.”
I have to say I felt kind of scared and vulnerable when she said this, as I am distinctly American, and was lying practically naked in her living room…
While Zubeidat was very good at giving facials, I can say that her increased religious zeal and offensive political suggestions about 9/11 in part influenced my decision to not return to her home since January 2012.
ABC News reported on Wednesday that FBI agents interviewed Ms. Tsarnaeva in Dagestan on Tuesday.