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Details slowly emerge about suspected bomber brothers

  • This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

    This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

  • This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

    This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

  • This wanted poster was released by the FBI on Friday, April 19, 2013, showing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect the FBI orginally called suspect number 2 in the bombings at the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/FBI)

    This wanted poster was released by the FBI on Friday, April 19, 2013, showing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect the FBI orginally called suspect number 2 in the bombings at the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/FBI)

  • This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)
  • This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)
  • This wanted poster was released by the FBI on Friday, April 19, 2013, showing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect the FBI orginally called suspect number 2 in the bombings at the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/FBI)

They blasted across the nation’s airwaves as the mystery men on the run from the FBI in the Boston Marathon bombings, both carrying backpacks, one wearing a backward white baseball hat and the other clad in dark glasses and a white T-shirt.

Today, after a chaotic night in which one of them was killed and the other became the target of a massive manhunt, information has been slowly emerging about the two men – who are brothers and the prime suspects in the attacks that killed three people and injured more than 170.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect still on the loose as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was identified as the man killed during an encounter with the police after an armed carjacking of a Mercedes SUV in Cambridge.

The brothers’ alleged motive in Monday’s bombings remains unclear, but in the last several months, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had posted videos to YouTube indicating his interest in radical Muslim ideologies.

The family appears to be originally from the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, and two law enforcement officials said there is a “Chechen connection” to the bombings. Chechnya has been racked by years of war between local separatists and Russian forces and extensive organized crime since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

The extent of the possible connection remains unclear, and some reports indicate that the family had also lived in Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia.

According to a database search, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a boxer who worked out at a martial arts facility in the Cambridge area.

On a YouTube channel, Tamerlan created a video file called “Terrorists,” where he posted footage that has since been removed from view. He also shared other videos of lectures from a radical Islamic cleric. In one video, Arab voices can be heard singing as bombs explode from high-rise buildings.

The caption below says: “Then Allah will rise an army from the non-Arabs, who will be greater riders and will have better weapons than the Arabs . . . but their weapon will be the weapon of faith.”

The younger brother, Dzhokhar, graduated in 2011 from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public high school in Cambridge. He was a quiet young man who was on the school wrestling team, said Deana Beaulieu, 20, who attended schools with him since the seventh grade.

She said that he lived with his parents, brother and sister at a house on Norfolk Street in Cambridge.

“They always say you have to be careful of the quiet ones,” she said in an interview.

Ty Barros, 21, a former high school classmate of Dzhokhar’s, said that Dzhokhar was widely known as Jahar and was “a normal regular American kid.”

He liked sports and listened to rap music with other kids hanging out in the Cambridge neighborhood around Norfolk Street, Barros said. “He was a fairly popular kid; he was a fairly friendly, nice kid,” Barros said.

He said Dzhokhar never talked about politics or discussed the marathon.

The young man was described as generous and gentle, with an easygoing sense of humor.

“He was one of those people you could confide in and he always offered help – do you need food, are you hungry – like a friend would do,” said Pamala Rolon, who was his residential adviser in the dorm where he lived at UMass-Dartmouth.

Rolon described him as a typical college student who studied hard and spoke English beautifully. She said he never discussed religion or his parents, though he spoke fondly of his older brother.

“He talked about his brother in good ways,” she said. “I could tell he looked up to his brother.”

It’s unclear how close the brothers remain with the rest of their family. A man who described himself as their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, told the Associated Press that Dzhokhar is a “true angel.”

The father worked as an auto mechanic. Jerry Siegel, owner of Webster’s Auto Body, in Somerville, Mass., said that the senior Tsarnaev worked for him for about 18 months and that he was an excellent mechanic who spoke very little English.

“He was just a hard-working, strong, tough guy,” said Siegel. “He would get under a car in the middle of winter, did whatever I asked.”

He said that Tsarnaev had a sister who translated for him. He said that he left about four years ago for another mechanic’s job. Sometime after that, the father got sick and returned to the Caucasus, according to other officials.

Court officials in Natick, a western suburb of Boston, said that Zubeidat K. Tsarnaeva, 45, of Cambridge, was arrested last June 13 on a charge of shoplifting at the Lord &Taylor department store in the upscale Natick Mall. Tsarnaeva is believed to be the mother of the two suspects. Court officials declined to release the files, but a local newspaper report from last June said she was charged with shoplifting $1,624 worth of women’s clothing. The case is pending.

The brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Montgomery Village, Md., described them as “losers” and said the family was deeply ashamed of them.

“This family does not know how to share their grief with the real victims,” Tsarni told more than 50 reporters gathered outside his red-brick home.

He grew emotional as he talked about his family and attempted to distance himself from the suspects. He urged Dzhokhar to turn himself in, adding: “He put a shame on this family. He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.”

The Chechen conflict dates to the early 1990s. In the summer of 1999, fighters in the predominantly Muslim republic rose up in an attempt to throw off Russian domination. Vladimir Putin, then the Russian prime minister, responded quickly, firmly and brutally to put down the rebellion.

Later that summer, there were several explosions across Russia and Putin blamed Chechens. Putin sent the army back by force, which resulted in Western criticism of Russian tactics and human rights violations.

In the most dramatic episode, about 40 armed Chechen separatists took more than 900 hostages at a Moscow theater. After a two-day siege, Russian special police pumped a chemical agent into the theater’s ventilation system and raided the building. About 130 hostages died, and all of the Chechens were killed.

Though the war has officially ended, the Russians have maintained a tight grip on Chechnya, backing a strongman friendly to Moscow. Efforts have also been underway in recent years to rebuild the shattered capital of Grozny.

Still, sporadic violence and kidnapping have continued in Chechnya, and separatists retain a following. The years of fighting, crime and economic difficulties led tens of thousands of Chechens to leave their homes for other former Soviet republics.

Aslan Doukaev, an expert on the Caucasus who works for Radio Liberty in Prague, pointed out in a telephone interview that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born the year the first Chechen war started, in 1994.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the war in Chechnya – which is not over – absolutely affected their worldview,” he said. He added that if the brothers were indeed the bombers, “I’m slightly baffled why they decided to attack Americans on American soil. Chechens have no grievances against Americans.”

One possible explanation, he said, is that they were motivated more by radical jihadism than Chechen separatism. It would be difficult to miss that influence in Dagestan, where they lived and where their father still lives.

“The epicenter these days is Dagestan. The jihadist movement in Dagestan is pretty strong,” Doukaev said.

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