(Makhachkala, Dagestan) — The mother of the Boston bombing suspects said in a tearful phone call with ABC News on Saturday evening that she and her husband plan to travel to the United States to visit their younger son, who was arrested on Friday.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said she fears 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is suspected of planting two bombs at Monday’s Boston Marathon along with his older brother Tamerlan, will receive the death penalty.
“I lost two sons,” she said. “My family is in the dirt.”
The mother did not say when she plans to travel to the United States. She fears being unable to do so, despite holding an American passport, because she is now the parent of a suspected terrorist.
Earlier in the day, Tsarnaeva and her husband Anzor Tsarnaev sought to avoid the crowd of media that descended upon the capital city in the restive region of Dagestan.
In an apparent attempt to foil journalists, relatives told those seeking interviews that the couple had left town. But just hours later the father was spotted jumping into his car near his home in central Makhachkala.
Neighbors described the family as friendly and normal.
“He wasn’t too religious,” one neighbor said about the father. “There was no fanaticism.”
In the village outside the capital where the mother’s relatives live, few were willing to talk about the family.
In the phone call with ABC News, Tsarnaeva reiterated claims made by her husband in earlier interviews that both of their sons were framed by the U.S. government.
She said her oldest son Tamerlan, the 26-year-old who was killed by police early Friday, was investigated two years ago by the FBI only because “he loved Islam” and said he “didn’t do anything bad.”
The FBI said in a statement released Friday that it investigated Tamerlan in 2011 at the behest of a foreign government, though it did not reveal which one.
“The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups,” the FBI statement said.
The bureau said that in response to the request it combed through its databases and interviewed the man and members of his family, but did not find any evidence he was tied to terror groups.
“The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011. The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government,” the FBI statement said.
“They were all afraid of Tamerlan,” his mother said, referring to the U.S. government. “They wanted to eliminate him as a threat because he was in love with Islam. For the last five years they were following him.”
The anxiety of losing both her sons, Tsarnaeva said, is debilitating. She described feeling so sick she has to call for an ambulance every two and a half hours.
“I don’t know how to live like this,” she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Emanuella Grinberg, CNN