WASHINGTON Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia last year and returned to the U.S. six months later, government officials told The Associated Press.
Investigators believe that Tsarneaev and his brother Dzhokhar are responsible for the deadly Boston Marathon attack that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others. The 26-year-old Tsarnaev died in a police shootout overnight. Dzhokhar is still being sought.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they couldn't talk publicly about an investigation in progress. Tsarnaev traveled from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to one of the officials.
The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which neighbors the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles said. There are no known ties at this point to Chechen extremist groups, one of the officials said.
An uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a devout Muslim about seven or eight years ago.
"When I was speaking to the older one, he started all this religious talk, 'Insh'allah' and all that, and I asked him, 'Where is all that coming from?'" said Ruslan Tsarni, 42, a corporate lawyer and executive.}
Chechnya has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency. Tsarni, who described himself as Muslim, vehemently denied that Chechnya or Islam had anything to do with the attack.
Tsarni said his brother left the U.S. and he had not talked to him since 2009. He said they had a personal falling out but did not elaborate.
"If somebody radicalized them ... it's not my brother, who just moved back to Russia. Who spent his life bringing bread to that table, fixing cars."