The uncle of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded with the fugitive suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings to turn himself in to authorities and repent for his crimes.
"If you're alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness" from the victims and their families, Ruslan Tsarni said at a press conference from his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland. Tsarni's brother is the father of Dzhokhar and his brother, Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police outside Boston earlier this morning. The FBI has identified both men as the only suspects in the marathon bombing.
Tsarni said his family shared the grief of the victims and their families who have allegedly suffered at his nephews' hands. "I'm ready to kneel in front of them begging their forgiveness," he said.
Tsarni told reporters he had not seen his nephews until December 2005, but he spoke to
them their father three months ago and didn't detect any signs that they planned to engage in acts of terrorism. If he had, "I'd be the first one to hand them" over to authorities, Tsarni said.
Tsarni said that his nephews were born in Kyrgyzstan and immigrated to the United States in 2003. He said they were granted political asylum and that they had never been to Chechnya. Early reports have described the Boston Bombers as Chechans. Tsarni said he was "ethnic Chechyan" and a Muslim.
Tsarni said his brother no longer lives in the United States, and that he exercised "little influence" over his sons. He said he didn't think his brother had schooled his children in fundamentalism.
Tsarni was at pains to distance himself from his brother's side of the family, calling them "losers" who were resentful of other members of the family who had more successfully assimilated to life in the United States.
"I respect this country. I love this country," Tsarni said. "This country which gives chance to embody else to be treated as a human being."