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Boston bombing suspects’ mother says they were set up

Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, is accused in the deadly April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. FBI.GOV

The mother of the Tsarnaev brothers suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings said on Friday that her sons were innocent and became victims of a set-up. She also questioned the role the FBI played in the affair.

She spoke on telephone from Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s restive Dagestan region, to the Moscow-based RT television channel.

“It is really, really a hard thing to hear,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said.

“And being a mother, what I can say is that I am really sure — I am like a hundred per cent sure — that this is a set-up. My two sons are really innocent, and I know that neither of them never, never has talked about whatever they are saying about now.”

Her youngest son Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured by police after a day-long manhunt on Friday that closed down the city and turned a working-class suburb into a virtual military zone.

He, along with his elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, is suspected of setting off bombs made in pressure cookers and packed with ball bearings and nails at the crowded finish line of Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 176.

Tamerlan was killed on Thursday night in a shootout with police less than a mile from where Friday night’s capture took place, but Dzhokhar eluded the police.

The brothers are ethnic Chechens who once lived in Russia but left for the United States in 2002.

“My youngest one was raised from eight years (old) in America,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said.

“And in our house nobody never talked about terrorism. And my son Tamerlan really got involved in religion, like religious politics, only five years ago.

“And [Tamerlan] never, he never told me that he would be, like, on a side of jihad. And whatever they are talking, whatever is being talked about him being a loser, they are themselves the losers. My son would never do this. It is a set-up.”

Monday’s bombing, described by Obama as an act of terrorism, was the worst such attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, and rattled nerves across the United States.

But the suspects’ mother raised questions about the role the FBI played as she said the agency was in contact with her son Tamerlan for years.

“[Tamerlan] was controlled by the FBI, like, for three to five years. They knew what my son was doing, they knew what sites on the Internet he was going to,” she said.

“They used to come home. They used to come and talk to me. They used to tell me that, you know, that they are controlling him. They were telling me he is really a leader and they are afraid of him.

“How could this happen? How could they … They were controlling every step of [Tamerlan’s.] They are telling today that this is a terrorist act. Never ever. This is not true. My two sons are innocent.”

U.S. government officials said that the brothers had not been under surveillance as possible militants. But the FBI said in a statement on Friday that in 2011 it ahd interviewed Tamerlan at the request of a foreign government, which it did not identify.

The matter was closed because interviews with Tamerlan and family members “did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, the FBI statement said.

It was the first evidence that the family had come to security officials’ attention after they emigrated to the United States about a decade ago. It might raise questions about whether authorities missed potential warning signs.

“My sons, my oldest son used to tell me everything, everything,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said.

“Every day, every second day, my son used to call me and ask me, ‘How are you mama?’ Both of them, ‘Mama, we love you. Mama, how are you? We miss you. It’s impossible, impossible for them, for both of them to do such thing.

“So I’m really telling that this is a set-up. My sons would tell me, my sons would never keep it a secret, so I would know. So if anyone who would know it would be me.”