Despite the violence in Dagestan, Anzor Tsarnaev said Sunday that his son did not want to leave and had thoughts on how he could go into business. But the father said he encouraged him to go back to the U.S. and try to get citizenship. Tamerlan Tsarnaev returned to the U.S. in July.
His mother said that he was questioned upon arrival at New York's airport.
"And he told me on the phone, 'Imagine, mama, they were asking me such interesting questions as if I were some strange and scary man: Where did you go? What did you do there?'" Zubeidat Tsarnaeva recalled her son telling her at the time.
When the two ethnic Chechen suspects were identified, the FBI said it reviewed its records and found that in early 2011, a foreign government — which law enforcement officials confirmed was Russia — had asked for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI said it was told that Tsarnaev was a "follower of radical Islam" and was preparing to travel to this foreign country to join unspecified underground groups.
The FBI said that it responded by interviewing Tsarnaev and family members, but found no terrorism activity.
Both parents insist that the FBI continued to monitor Tamerlan Tsarnaev and that both of their sons were set up.
Their mother went so far on Sunday to claim that the FBI had contacted her elder son after the deadly bombs exploded at the marathon. If true it would be the first indication that the FBI considered him a suspect before Boston descended into violence on Thursday.
At FBI headquarters in Washington, spokesman Michael Kortan stood by the bureau's public statement of Friday in which the bureau described a 2011 FBI interview of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Kortan said the 2011 interview was the only FBI contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI statement said that the FBI did not learn of the identity of Tamerlan and his brother until Friday after the gun battle in which Tamerlan was killed.
The mother's claim could not be independently confirmed, and she has made statements in the past that appeared to show a lack of full understanding of what occurred in Boston.
Investigators released photos and video of the two Tsarnaev brothers on Thursday afternoon, but at that point their identities were not known. By late that night Tamerlan Tsarnaev was dead.
Tsarnaeva said her elder son told her by telephone that the FBI had called to inform him that they considered him a suspect and he should come in for questioning.
She said her son refused. "I told them, what do you suspect me of?" Tsarnaeva quoted her son as saying. "This is your problem and if you need me you should come to where I am."
He then told her he was going to drive his younger brother to the university, she said, speaking by telephone from Chechnya. Tsarnaeva claimed that her son later called his wife to tell her they were being chased and fired upon.