Though most family members of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev have reacted with bewilderment, confusion, and suspicions of a “setup,” Ruslan Tsarni, uncle to the two, thinks that motive is much simpler to discern in the case.
Speaking to Savannah Guthrie on TODAY, Tsarni opines that the brothers were indeed pawns in a broader terrorist scheme, but believes that Tamerlan was “radicalized” by mentors, and Dzhokhar was merely following his lead.
“I strongly believe they were just puppets and executors of something of bigger scale,” Tsarni said, continuing that Dzhokhar was “used by his older brother. He’s just another victim of his older brother. He victimized others, but he’s been used by his older brother.”
As more information on the suspects comes to light, it seems increasingly apparent that 26-year-old Tamerlan, who was killed in a firefight with police on Friday, was indeed the architect of the bombing. Tsarni recalls being shocked by Tamerlan’s beliefs and apparent radicalization back in 2009, the last time he saw his nephew.
“I was shocked when I heard his words, his phrases, when every other word he starts sticking in words of God. I question what he’s doing for work, (and) he claimed he would just put everything in the will of God. It was a big concern to me. He called me ‘confused’ when I started explaining to him, make yourself useful to yourself and to your family and maybe you’ll have extra to share with everybody else.
Tsarni was quick to draw a line between religious conviction and religious extremism, arguing that Tamerlan exhibited the latter.
“It wasn’t devotion, it was something, as it’s called, being radicalized. Not understanding what he is talking (about). He is just using words for the sake of the words and not understanding the meaning of it.”
Though he previously said that any ties between Tamerlan and extremist Islam were being manufactured by the media, Tsarni admitted that it may have played a role after all.
“He 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.”
Dzhokhar was cornered late Friday night inside a boat in the backyard of a house, and was finally captured alive after a tense stand-off. Tsarni says that he is happy that his nephew is alive, because now he can ask forgiveness for his crimes. Additionally, law enforcement officials now have an opportunity to get to the bottom of the case.
“For a 19-year-old kid, I do not even believe (that) he would (have) been in full comprehension of what he’s been doing. For the sake of seeking forgiveness for himself, I don’t know how long his life is going to be, but I know it will be way easier for him if he receives that forgiveness for those he made to suffer.”
You can watch the video of Ruslan Tsarni’s TODAY interview below.