Anzor Tsarnaev's heavily publicized trip to the United States in search of "justice and the truth" about his sons has been postponed abruptly, and Zubeidat, the mother of Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, has apparently left her home in Dagestan — on the same day reports surfaced that she was placed on a terrorism watch list, too. And just like that, these two outspoken, conspiracy-churning parents became a lot harder to find on your television screen.
After cooperating with FBI investigators for two days of (possibly fruitless) questioning this week, Zubeidat and Anzor Tsarnaev are now laying low. CNN has the report on their undisclosed whereabouts:
The parents of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects have left their home in Dagestan for another part of Russia, the suspects' mother Zubeidat Tsarnaev told CNN Friday. She said the suspects' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, is delaying his trip to the United States indefinitely.
That's a little weird, considering how comfortable the Tsarnaevs seemed to be in the spotlight. Since his sons' names were released last Friday, Anzor has steadfastly maintained that he would be coming to the U.S. to make sure his son was kept safe and look into his charges of a setup. The Associated Press and Russia's state news agency had reported that he was scheduled to fly Thursday, but then Anzor said he was sick and missed the first day of questioning with U.S. officials who traveled to Russia this week for interviews with the parents and others in and around the southern Russian region of Dagestan. (Sky News reports that he did eventually cooperate with investigators there.) According to CNN, his wife, from whom he is separated, had called an ambulance for Anzor on Thursday, when they held a joint press conference together in Makhachkala, Russia. According to Reuters, Anzor said at the event that he hadn't yet bought a plane ticket but still had his travel plans:
Pounding the table with his fists, Anzor Tsarnaev said: "I am going to the United States. I want to say that I am going there to see my son, to bury the older one. I don't have any bad intentions. I don't plan to blow up anything."
"I am not angry at anyone. I want to go find out the truth," said Anzor, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses.
So, yes, it's a little strange that this very outspoken father has had a change of heart and indefinitely postponed his trip. Zubeidat, though, never planned to arrive in the U.S., where she's wanted on felony shoplifting charges. But it appears her name was also in an American terror database, not unlike her old son, who was on lists with both the FBI and the CIA. Today ABC Boston reports that "Russian officials warned authorities in the United States about the mother of the bombing suspects in 2011, and she was also added to a terror watch list." And CNN explains:
Zubeidat Tsarnaev and her older son were both added by U.S. authorities to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, database in 2011 -- a collection of more than a half million names maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, an intelligence official said.
But The Boston Globe's Noah Bierman reported on Thursday that while she was in the database, Zubeidat was not on the FBI's list, which holds much more weight in intelligence circles:
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva -- was not placed on US terror watchlist, as her son was, an indication that the FBI did not consider her a threat, the official said.
Zubeidat does have connections to "Misha," the mysterious Armenian convert to Islam, who is thought by Tamerlan's relatives to have influenced her older son. "He was just a friend," Zubeidat told ABC News of Misha earlier this week, and she told British media that "reading extremist materials does not make you a terrorist."
In a step toward reality—and after insinuating that the pictures of the bombings were fake and made with "paint"—Zubeidat finally acknowledged that a bombing might have occurred. "I really feel sorry for all of them," she said of the victims on Thursday. "Really feel sorry for all of them." Of course, she still maintained that her sons were not involved, so maybe she and her husband aren't of much use to investigators, in Dagestan, the States, or anywhere else.