MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. (AP) — In a passionate plea, an uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects urged one of his nephews to turn himself in Friday, saying he had brought shame to the family and the entire Chechen ethnicity.
“Yes, we’re ashamed. They’re the children of my brother,” Ruslan Tsarni, 42, told a throng of reporters outside his home in Montgomery Village, Md.
The suspects were identified by law enforcement officials and family members as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, brothers who had lived in Dagestan, which neighbors Chechnya in southern Russia.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old who had been known to the FBI as Suspect No. 1 and was seen in surveillance footage in a black baseball cap, was killed overnight, officials said.
His brother, a 19-year-old college student who was dubbed Suspect No. 2, escaped. He was seen wearing a white, backward baseball cap in the images from Monday’s deadly bombing at the marathon finish line.
“Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured and from those who left,” Tsarni said, raising his voice.
The Tsarnaev brothers had been in the U.S. for about a decade and lived near Boston, though Tsarni said he had not seen them since he visited them in December 2005.
He said the older brother, Tamerlan, had become a devout Muslim about seven or eight years ago.
“When I was speaking to the older one, he started all this religious talk, ‘Insh’allah’ and all that, and I asked him, ‘Where is all that coming from?'” said Tsarni, a corporate lawyer and executive.
He said his nephews had struggled to settle themselves in the U.S. and ended up “thereby just hating everyone.”
Asked what he thought provoked the bombings, Tsarni said: “Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine of. Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it’s a fraud, it’s a fake.”
Pressed again toward the end of the impromptu interview, he said he was not calling his nephews losers. “I’m saying those who are able to make this atrocity are only losers.”
Tsarni previously told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he was not completely shocked when he learned Friday morning that the older brother was named as a suspect.
“It’s not a surprise about him,” he said. “The younger one, that’s something else.”
Chechnya was the scene of two wars between Russian forces and separatists since 1994. The wars saw heavy bombing of Chechnya, which killed tens of thousands, and they spawned an Islamic insurgency that has engulfed the entire region.
Tsarni, who described himself as Muslim, vehemently denied that Chechnya or Islam had anything to do with the Boston bombings.
Tsarni said his brother left the U.S. and he had not talked to him since 2009. He said they had a personal falling out but did not elaborate.
“If somebody radicalized them … it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia. Who spent his life bringing bread to that table, fixing cars.”
He offered his condolences to the bombing victims.
“We’re sharing with them their grief. I’m ready just to meet with them. I’m ready just to bend in front of them, to kneel in front of them, seeking that forgiveness.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)