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Father of bombing suspects postpones trip to US

Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, parents of the bombing suspects, answered questions in Makhachkala, Russia.Reuters

MAKHACHKALA, Russia — The father of the two Boston bombing suspects said Sunday that he has postponed a trip from Russia to the United States because of poor health.

Anzor Tsarnaev, 46, said his blood pressure had spiked to dangerous levels. ‘‘I am really sick,’’ he said.

Tsarnaev had said at a news conference Thursday that he planned to leave that day or the next for the United States with the hope of seeing his younger son, who is under arrest in the bombing case, and of burying his elder son, who was killed. His family, however, indicated later Thursday that the trip could be delayed.


Tsarnaev confirmed on Sunday that he is staying in Chechnya, a province in southern Russia, but did not specify whether he was hospitalized. He is an ethnic Chechen and has relatives in Chechnya, although he and his family spent little time in Chechnya or anywhere else in Russia before moving to the United States a decade ago.

In this image from a video by the suspects’ aunt, Anzor Tsarnaev (left) and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva pose with Anzor’s brother, Mukhammad, and baby Tamerlan.Patimat Suleimanova/Associated Press

He and the suspects’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, returned to Russia last year and settled in Makhachkala, the capital of neighboring Dagestan, where Anzor Tsarnaev’s relatives live.

During the past week, they were both questioned extensively by US investigators who had traveled to Makhachkala from Moscow.

Tsarnaev’s family said last week that he intended to get to the United States by flying from Grozny, the Chechen capital, to Moscow.

Tsarnaeva drew increased attention after federal officials said Russian authorities intercepted her phone calls, including one in which she vaguely discussed jihad with her elder son.

In another, she was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, US officials said.

Tsarnaeva said she is no terrorist, just someone who found a deeper spirituality. She insists her sons — Tamerlan, who was killed in a gunfight with police, and Dzhokhar, who was wounded and captured — are innocent.


‘‘It’s all lies and hypocrisy,’’ she said in an interview in Dagestan. ‘‘I'm sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I've never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism.’’

After she arrived in the United States from Russia in 2002, Tsarnaeva went to beauty school and worked at a suburban day spa. But in recent years, clients and others who knew her said she began wearing a hijab and cited conspiracy theories about 9/11 being a plot against Muslims.

The Tsarnaevs settled in a working-class section of Cambridge. Zubeidat took classes at the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics before becoming a state-licensed aesthetician. Anzor, who had studied law, fixed cars.

Tsarnaeva said she and Tamerlan began to turn more deeply into their Muslim faith about five years ago after being influenced by a family friend named Misha. The man, whose full name she did not reveal, impressed her with a religious devotion that was far greater than her own, even though he was an ethnic Armenian who converted to Islam.

‘‘I wasn’t praying until he prayed in our house, so I just got really ashamed that I am not praying, being a Muslim, being born Muslim. I am not praying. Misha, who converted, was praying,’’ she said.

By then, she had left her job at the day spa and was giving facials in her apartment. One client, Alyssa Kilzer, noticed the change when Tsarnaeva put on a head scarf before leaving the apartment.


‘‘She had never worn a hijab while working at the spa previously, or inside the house, and I was really surprised,’’ Kilzer wrote in a post on her blog. ‘‘She started to refuse to see boys that had gone through puberty, as she had consulted a religious figure and he had told her it was sacrilegious. She was often fasting.’’

Kilzer said she stopped visiting the family’s home for spa treatments in late 2011 or early 2012 when, during one session, Tsarnaeva ‘‘started quoting a conspiracy theory, telling me that she thought 9/11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims.’’