Tamerlan Tsarnaev travelled to Dagestan in 2012 to join radical Islamist group
Investigators of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev case say that he travelled to the Russian republic of Dagestan in 2012 with the intent of joining a radical Islamist group, but he never followed through with his plan.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot dead during a police gun battle on April 19 after officials claim he and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokahr, had set off two homemade bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
In 202, officials say Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom they described as a “typical lone wolf”, went to Dagestan after becoming radicalized in the US.
While staying abroad, however, Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not join the ranks of an international terror group, and it appears that the two brothers were acting of their own accord when they set off the deadly explosions, officials close to the matter told ABC News.
Investigators also found no manifesto written by Tamerlan Tamerlan while he was staying in Dagestan, which would have provided a clear motive for the attacks.
Similarly, no evidence was found so far to suggest that Tamerlan Tsarnaev reached out to Islamist leaders on his earlier trips to Chechnya to visit his father’s relatives.
During his recent visit to Dagestan, where his parents currently reside, Tamerlan Tsarnaev did make contact with Mahmud Mansur Nidal, who has been suspected of having militant ties, according to officials.
The two were frequently seen at a Salafist mosque in the capital of Makhachkala, which is popular among insurgents.
However, while Mahmud Mansur Nidal eventually ended up joining a radical Islamist organization in the southern Russian region, Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not follow him and later returned to the U.S.
Mahmud Mansur Nidal, a man who was both Palestinian and Kumyk, was killed in May 2012 after refusing to give himself up to security forces that had surrounded a house in Makhachkala, according to official police records.
An FBI probe has revealed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had social networking ties with Muslim convert William Plotnikov, a Russian national from Canada, which brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.
William Plotnikov had been detained in Dagestan in December 2010 on suspicion of having ties to the militants and during his interrogation was forced to hand over a list of social networking friends from the U.S. and Canada who like him had once lived in Russia, Novaya Gazeta reported.
William Plotnikov was among seven suspected militants killed on July 14 during a standoff with police in the Dagestani village of Utamysh, according to the official police record.
After William Plotnikov’s death, Russian security agents lost track of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and went to see his father in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, who told them that his son had returned to the U.S., Novaya Gazeta said.
The Russians later determined that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had flown to Moscow on July 16 and to the U.S. the following day, the newspaper said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev arrived in New York on July 17.
Investigators also looked into Tamerlan Tsaranev’s relationship with a distant cousin with ties to extremists group, who is suspected of playing a role in the 26-year-old former boxer’s radicalization.
Magomed Kartashov is founder and leader of a group called The Union of the Just which reportedly promotes the application of Islamic Sharia law and has protested against the U.S.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev is said to have met Magomed Kartashov for the first time in Dagestan. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told TIME Magazine that the two kinsmen “became very close”.
The Union of the Just publicly renounces violence, but several of its members have ties to militants.
A lawyer for Magomed Kartashov confirmed to ABC News that Russian security agents recently interviewed her client about his links to Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Magomed Kartashov admits that the two were close but insists that it was Tamerlan Tsarnaev who tried to “pull him into extremism”.
He is currently in jail on charges of resisting police after waving an Islamists flag during a wedding procession. His lawyer expects he will remain there for at least two more months.
Magomed Magomedov, another member of Union for the Just, told ABC News that he saw Tamerlan Tsarnaev on several occasions at the Makhachkala mosque, but the American transplant appeared out of place.
“He was sticking out, it was obvious he is not local. He liked to draw attention with his expensive and fancy clothes. His haircut was something no one has seen before,” he said.
According to some accounts, Tamerlan Tsarnaev would put on airs by claiming that he knew more about Islam than he actually did. In conversations with other congregants, he would often recite things he had picked up online in a bid to impress the locals, who grew annoyed with him.
But according to officials, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not as strict a practitioner of Islam as he appeared to be.
According to one investigator, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, like his younger brother Dzhokhar, would often indulge in mar***ana while living in Massachusetts, spending hours high.
The FBI is to meet with nearly a dozen people who had known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including relatives, childhood friends and acquaintances from the mosque, hoping to shed light on the events that led to the bombings.