Uncles distance themselves from bombing suspects

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Alvi Tsarni, one of two Maryland uncles of the brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing said Friday he had nothing to say to his nephew, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was being hunted by police in Boston.

“They will kill him,” he said of the police. “We know it. … You don’t have to worry about it. What’s done is done.

“He’s already dead.”

According to news reports, Boston police took Tsarnaev into custody late Friday.

Alvi Tsarni joined his brother, Ruslan Tsarni, also of Gaithersburg, in distancing himself from the two brothers at the center of the investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed in a battle with police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.

The bombing suspects have ties to Maryland, with a handful of relatives living and studying in the greater Washington area.

Alvi Tsarni said he last talked to his nephews three years ago and hasn’t seen them since the oldest was 15 or 16.

A dispute between the families caused the uncle to become estranged from his nephews and their parents.

“We’re a separated family because they’re not listening. They argue with us,” Alvi Tsarni said, referring to his Boston nephews. “There was some problems (between the families).”

He apologized for his English and could not communicate what the rift in the family was about, but he did say he told his brother, Ruslan Tsarni, to stop speaking to the family.

Despite the estranged relationship, Alvi Tsarni still does not believe that his nephews were responsible for the bombing.

“I am very sorry for what happened. I don’t believe it now, even now, that they did this,” Alvi Tsarni said.

When he gets evidence, “then I will know that they did it,” he said.

But his brother, Ruslan Tsarni, seemed more certain. In an interview at his home earlier Friday, he urged Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to turn himself in to authorities and ask for forgiveness for his actions.

“If you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured and from those who lived. Ask forgiveness from these people,” he said.

Ruslan Tsarni confirmed their identity and said they moved to the U.S. about 10 years ago. He said his nephews had shamed the family name as well as Chechnya, where the family has roots.

“We’re Muslims; we’re ethnic Chechens,” Ruslan Tsarni said.

“Somebody radicalized them, but it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars,” he said. “I’ve not been in touch with my brother.”

Ruslan Tsarni also said he has not seen his nephews since December 2005. But he said he had never heard the two associated with any violence.

“I teach my children, and that is what I feel myself. … I respect this country and I love this country. This country which gives a chance to everybody else to be treated as a human being and to be a human being … that’s what I feel about this country,” he said.

“Of course we’re ashamed. They’re children of my brother, who had little influence on them, as much as I know,” he said.

Ruslan Tsarni said any allegation that the attacks were bred out of Muslim hatred for the U.S. is “a fraud.”

He said the only motivation behind the attacks he could imagine was that his nephews were “losers, not being able to settle themselves, thereby hating anyone who did.”

He found out when reporters called him Friday morning and his wife showed him photos of the nephews online.

He said the nephews never lived in the Gaithersburg house.

Ruslan Tsarni later apologized to neighbors for the disruption to the neighborhood.