BOSTON — The parents of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said Saturday they have no immediate plans to travel to the U.S., in part because of the mother’s fears she is also under suspicion.
“They are now thinking that I am a terrorist, that is what I have been hearing. So I don’t know how safe it is for me to go down there,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview in Russia.
“I need guarantees that I will be allowed to see my son, if he is still alive that is. I am thinking about abandoning U.S. citizenship altogether,” she said.
She said her husband, Anzor Tsarnaev, is “very sick” and hospitalized in Moscow, where the couple is now staying after recently leaving their home in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan.
The Associated Press reported that Tsarnaeva’s name had been added along with that of her son Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police, to a terrorist data base 18 months before the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Times was unable to independently confirm the Associated Press report, which said Russian authorities conveyed suspicions about both Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother to U.S. authorities in March 2011. The CIA subsequently asked the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center to add both family members’ names to its database of people suspected of having terrorist ties, called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, according to the AP.
“She is a person of interest that we’re looking at to see if she helped radicalize her son, or had contacts with other people or other terrorist groups,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters in Washington.
Tsarnaeva also would be likely to face an outstanding warrant on shoplifting charges stemming from an arrest in June 2012 in Natick, Mass., after she allegedly stole several dresses valued at $1,624. Divorced from her husband at the time, Tsarnaeva shortly thereafter flew to Dagestan and reconciled with him.
“I am not going to U.S.,” she said in a text message to The Times on Saturday, subsequent to the telephone interview.
“ONLY WHEN THEY [are going] TO SHOW ME MY DJAHAR,” she added, using a version of the Americanized spelling of his name.
Last week, her husband had told reporters at news conference in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala that he planned to travel to Boston soon.
“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,” Anzor Tsarnaev told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
Kheda Saratova, a human rights activist who represents the interests of the Tsarnaev family, said both parents were in Moscow. “Anzor was planning to fly to the U.S. this weekend but he has a health problem and had to be urgently hospitalized in one of Moscow’s clinics,” she said. “Zubeidat is not flying to the U.S. in the near future either.”
Reached at the hospital in Moscow, Zubeidat said her husband had elevated blood pressure, and doctors said he was in danger of having a stroke.
“He is not unconscious, but he is in a very bad shape,” she said. “Of course, we can’t even think of him going anywhere, let alone America right now.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, injured in two separate shootouts with police, was transferred in the early morning hours Friday from a Boston hospital to a federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in the town of Ayer, 40 miles west of Boston.
John Colautti, spokesman for Federal Medical Center-Devens, told The Times on Saturday that Tsarnaev remains in fair condition and is housed in one of the facility’s high-security areas.
The type of cell in which he is housed has a sink, toilet and shower, with a solid steel door that has a window for observation and a small passageway through which to pass meals. It has a small window with bars but no television.
“Inmates are allowed to read, but predominantly it’s designed to be a secured area,” Colautti said.
Under prison regulations, inmates in high-security areas are allowed one hour of outdoor recreation each day.
The facility can install hospital beds in cells for inmates that require them, but Colautti said he could not discuss the medical aspects of Tsarnaev’s treatment or whether he required a hospital bed.
Murphy reported from Boston, Loiko from Moscow.