BOSTON - "Losers" or victims of a framing?
With officials seeking possible motives for the men who stand accused of the Boston marathon bombings, a picture is emerging from those who should have known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokar, best -- their family members.
As a nation grieves over the three people killed in the bombings, the scores injured and a police officer who lost his life during the search for suspects, members of the Tsarnaev family have gone on record to express their feelings about the possible guilt or innocence of the pair. This is what they had to say:
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva says it is "impossible, impossible" for her sons to have committed such a crime.
Speaking from the Russian region of Dagestan, she expressed support for her children and said she believes they have been the victims of a setup.
"You tell me, my son never would keep it in secret," she said. "... If there is anyone who would be knowing it would be me. (Tamerlan) never would hide it from me."
The family matriarch also said no one talked about terrorism in their household. Her oldest son had had contact with the FBI before, she said.
"They knew what my son was doing, what actions and what sites (on) the Internet he was going," she said. "How could this happen?"
"Someone framed them," Anzor Tsarnaev said while the manhunt was being conducted. "I don't know who exactly did it, but someone did."
He said he had spoken with his sons on Thursday and they told him, "Everything is good, Daddy. Everything is very good."
After being told by ABC News on Friday that his youngest son had been captured alive, the elder Tsarnaev reportedly began to weep and had this message for his child: "Tell police everything. Everything. Just be honest."
On Saturday, he told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh that he planned to travel to the United States.
"My kids never did anything -- that's it," he said.
Alina Tsarnaeva told The (Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger that she had not seen her brothers "in a long time" but spoke lovingly of Tamerlan.
"He was a great person," she said. "I thought I knew him. I never would have expected that from him. He is a kind and loving man. The cops took his life away just the same way he took others' lives away, if that's even true. At the end of the day, no one knows the truth."
After the death of Tamerlan and as authorities continued to hunt his younger brother, their uncle Ruslan Tsarni spoke passionately at a news conference Friday outside his Montgomery County, Maryland, home.
"Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves -- these are the only reasons I can imagine," Tsarni said when asked to speculate on a possible motive. "Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, is a fraud, is a fake."
The uncle admonished the pair for putting "a shame on our entire family -- the Tsarnaev family -- and you put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity."
By Saturday, he appeared to have a bit of a change of heart, telling NBC's "Today" show that he was angry when he spoke Friday. He expressed happiness that his younger nephew had been captured alive and said his elder nephew had fallen prey to outside influences, according to a family acquaintance.
"(The acquaintance) said there is someone who brainwashed him, some new convert to Islam,'' Tsarni said. "I would like to stress (the acquaintance was) of Armenian descent.''
An unidentified relative in Dagestan told ABC News that Tamerlan had worried family members a year ago during a trip there and had been asked to leave an uncle's home because of his "increasingly extremist views."
Tsarni was not the only one who passionately spoke about the Tsarnaev brothers.
Maret Tsarnaev said she believed the picture of the bombing suspects that purportedly helped lead authorities to her nephews was "staged."
"If somebody wants to convince me, show me evidence," she said, telling reporters Friday she is studying to become a lawyer. "Evidence! Evidence!"
At times seeming almost combative during a press conference, she said it would take much more than photos to convince her that her nephews had committed such a crime. "What I'm saying is, why FBI does not give me more?"
Katherine Russell is the 24-year-old reported wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and mother of their 3-year-old daughter, Zahara. Approached by Britain's Daily Mail at her family's home in New Hampshire, she declined to comment. Her family released the following statement Friday:
"Our daughter has lost her husband today, the father of her child. We cannot begin to comprehend how this horrible tragedy occurred. In the aftermath of the Patriots' Day horror, we know that we never really
knew Tamerlane Tsarnaev. Our hearts are sickened by the knowledge of the horror he has inflicted. Please respect our family's privacy in this difficult time."