Police in Boston have named two brothers hailing from Kyrgyzstan as chief suspects in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, which killed at least three and left more than 170 wounded. It appears the two, members of the country's dwindling ethnic Chechen community, left Kyrgyzstan over ten years ago and had been in the United States for about a decade.
Authorities in Boston are searching for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, was killed after a series of violent engagements with police in several parts of the metropolitan area early on April 19 that left one officer dead and one severely wounded, The Boston Globereported. A police source told the paper that an explosive trigger was found on Tamerlan’s body.
In Bishkek, the State Committee on National Security (GKNB) confirmed the two lived in Kyrgyzstan and left in 2001. Because they were 8 and 15 when they left, the GKNB said in a statement, it is "inappropriate to link them with Kyrgyzstan."
Adnan Jabrayilov, the head of the country's Chechen community, told Radio Azattyk that he believes the entire family emigrated over ten years ago. He said the family was from Tokmok and added that members were very well educated.
Tokmok, about an hour east of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital, is something of a center for the country's Chechen diaspora. The ethnic group was sent to Central Asia, en masse, by paranoid Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1944 for allegedly collaborating with invading Nazi soldiers. That February, Stalin rounded up an estimated 400,000 people, including ethnic Ingush, and deported them in frigid boxcars. An estimated 30 percent of the population died en route or within the first year.
Often literally scraping out homes in the frigid steppe, most settled in what is now Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, though many were allowed to return after Stalin’s 1953 death.
Kyrgyzstan’s 2012 census put the number of Chechens at 1,740, down from 2,873 in 1989, just before the country’s independence. The 1959 Soviet census lists the population of Chechens in the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic as just over 25,000.
After leaving Kyrgyzstan, it seems the Tsarnaev family settled in the restive Russian republic of Dagestan, in the north Caucasus, scene of an Islamic-inspired insurgency for more than a decade. A former teacher there told Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency that Dzhokhar had attended school briefly in Makhachkala before emigrating to the United States.