MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- The father of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev insists he wants to travel to the United States to seek justice for his sons, who he claims are victims of a "clear setup."
An emotional Anzor Tsarnaev, speaking via telephone to RFE/RL's Tom Balmforth and the Associated Press on April 21, said there was "no sense" to accusations tying his sons to the attacks in Boston, which left three dead and around 173 injured on April 15.
They are also thought by investigators to have killed a campus police officer four days later.
"I want real justice," Anzor Tsarnaev said, after indicating that he wants to visit the United States. "I have a lot of questions to ask the [American] police and secret services. I am a lawyer myself. I want answers to all the questions that I have on criminal issues, on terrorism."
The boy’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told RFE/RL and the AP that her oldest son, 26-year-old Tamerlan, who was killed in a shoot-out with police on April 19, had been under surveillance. She said he had "been monitored" by the FBI for the last five years and protested at a lack of evidence. She said her sons were innocent and that they had been "set up" by U.S. authorities.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said on April 21 that surveillance video from the Boston attack shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropping his backpack and calmly walking away from it before the bomb inside it exploded.
Speaking to NBC, Patrick said, "It's pretty clear about his involvement and pretty chilling, frankly."
The Russian government had reportedly flagged Tamerlan to U.S officials as a potential terrorist suspect in 2011. He was said to have been questioned by the FBI that same year and his application for U.S. citizenship in 2012 denied based on related concerns.
Speculation has linked the brothers, who were born to a Chechen father and a mother believed by neighbors to be an ethnic Avar, to Islamist militant groups in the North Caucasus.
Caucasus Militants Deny Involvement
On April 21, a website used by the so-called Caucasus Emirate -- the Islamist resistance movement in Russia's North Caucasus -- published a statement
saying it has no connection with the bombings in Boston.
Tamerlan visited Russia for at least six months starting on January 12, 2012. His father claimed he spent six months in Makhachkala with him and visiting nearby family relatives as well as in Chechnya.
"He visited Chechnya twice with me," Anzor said. "We went to see my uncles and aunts. I have many of them there. All of them are clean people; they pray, everybody knows them. They never left Chechnya. My relatives had jobs there and they stayed there throughout the war."
Nonetheless, a Makhachkala shopkeeper who identified herself only as Madina said Tamerlan stayed at the Tsarnaev family house across the road in the middle of last summer for a single month.
A trained lawyer, Tsarnaev maintained that, to his knowledge, Tamerlan had not exhibited any extremist tendencies.
"[Tamerlan Tsarnaev] had no [radical] ideas whatsoever," he said. "I don't get it. Who could have come up with that? He was with me in Makhachkala and he used to sleep until 3 p.m. I even used to poke him, asking him if he came here to sleep only. I was taking him to visit our relatives, have some food there, this and that. Once back home, he would always go to bed."
He said he would be seeking answers from U.S. authorities and that his sons were not affiliated with any radical Islamist groups.
"[My husband Anzor Tsarnaev] will be hiring the best lawyers. He will go [to the U.S.] himself and will be trying to sort things out," said the bombing suspects' mother. "There will be a lot happening and everyone will hear about it. He will do it. For starters, our son [Tamerlan] was killed there and we have to take him home. We will defend our younger son [Dzhokhar] as best as we can, and we will never ever let them kill our children."
On April 21, Boston Mayor Tom Menino said authorities may never be able to question Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The 19-year-old is in serious condition with at least one bullet wound and has been unable to speak after eluding police for 24 hours.
Menino told ABC's "This Week" that Tsarnaev was in "very serious" condition at a Boston hospital after being captured on the night of April 19.
"And we don't know if we'll ever be able to question the individual," Menino said.
With reporting by RFE/RL correspondent Tom Balmforth in Makhachkhala and AP