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April 20th, 2013
07:39 PM ET

Muslim leaders condemn bombing suspects

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
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Washington (CNN) - Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere have distanced themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, condemning the deadly terror attack and saying they feared reprisals against their communities.

"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.

"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians."

Vali said Friday that none of his staff were familiar with the suspects, identified by the FBI as brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19. The elder brother died at a Boston hospital early Friday after a gunbattle with police. Authorities captured the younger man Friday night.

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On Saturday the Islamic Society of Boston Cambridge Masjid, a small mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, issued a statement saying both men occasionally attended prayer services there.

"In their visits, they never exhibited any violent sentiments or behavior. Otherwise they would have been immediately reported to the FBI," according to the statement, which was read aloud by a congregant outside the mosque.

"After we learned of their identities, we encouraged anyone who knew them in our congregation to immediate report to law enforcement, which has taken place."

The congregant didn't take questions from reporters. The mosque is not related to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

Beyond their occasional attendance at services, few other details are known about the brothers' religious practices, apart from remarks by relatives and comments attributed to the elder brother by a photographer, none of which portrayed the brothers as particularly devout.

Messages on a Twitter account attributed to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and posted in the days after the bombings, were broadly secular. Various interviews with high school and college classmates of Dzhokar Tsarnaev offered no hints of a particular interest in religion. Leaders of Boston's Muslim community contacted on Friday said they didn't know the brothers.

However, other parts of the older brother's online and social media presence indicate that he was deeply religious, especially in recent years. His aunt said within the past two years he had begun to pray five times a day. Some of the links on his YouTube channels are to lectures by radical preachers, but the content of those lectures is more to do with religious practice than jihad or Islamist militancy.

Muslim leaders are worried because of past reprisals against their community after terror attacks attributed to members of their faith.

On Friday, the suspects' mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told Russian Television that her oldest son "got involved in religion five years ago."

"My youngest was raised from 8 years in America, my oldest he was really properly raised in our house," Tsarnaeva said.

"Nobody talked about terrorism. Tamerlan got involved in religion five years ago. Started following his own religion, never told me he could be on side of jihad. He was followed by FBI for three years, knew what he was doing, where on Internet he was going. How could this happen, they were controlling every step of him, now they are saying this is a terrorist act.

"It's impossible for them to do such things. I am really telling you that this is a setup. My son would never keep it in secret. My son, you tell me, my son wouldn't keep it secret. Who would be knowing? If there is anyone who would know it would be me. He wouldn't hide it. But there was never a word."

The suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, described his nephews as "losers" who happened to be Muslims.

Tsarni told reporters outside his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland, that his nephews' religion played no role in the attacks.

"Anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it's a fraud, it's a fake," said Tsarni, who described the family as peace-loving, ethnic Chechens.

"Somebody radicalized them, but it's not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars," he said. "My family had nothing to do with that family. Of course, we're ashamed, yes, we're ashamed they're children of my brother."

Asked what might have motivated his nephews to carry out such an attack, he said: "Being losers; hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine."

Tsarni said his brother's family arrived in the United States in 2003 and was granted asylum. He said he had not seen them since December 2005 and last spoke with them in 2009.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev talked briefly about his faith - and his aspiration to become a U.S. citizen and box for the U.S. Olympic team - with a photographer while training at a Boston gym to compete in a Golden Gloves competition.

Photographer Johannes Hirn posted an online photo essay of Tamerlan Tsarnaev titled "Will Box for Passport."

One of the captions for the photos reads "Tsarnaev, a Muslim, doesn't drink or smoke. 'God said no alcohol,' he says."

By Friday afternoon, a a link to the photos said the gallery was "private and cannot be viewed."

In Washington, Muslim leaders again condemned the attacks, sent condolences to the victims and said they were concerned with reprisal attacks against Muslims in the United States.

"Those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Boston must face justice," Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, referred to as CAIR, told reporters at a hastily called news conference.

"The question will always come up if they are associated with our community," Awad said.

"Our community and our faith detest and deplore these actions and these individuals. We do not know the motives of these individuals but our position has been consistent. Any act of violence against innocent people is deplorable and is condemned in our faith.

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"As God tells us in the Quran, if you murder one person it is as if you murdered all humanity. And if you saved one person, one innocent life, it is like you saved all of humanity," Awad said.

Imam Magid of the Islamic Society of North America said his group has set up a fund to help the bombing victims.

"These are acts of crime, not acts of religion," Benjamin Abdul-Haqq, an imam at Masjid Muhammad mosque in Washington, told the news conference.

Corey Saylor, legislative director for CAIR, said the group feared reprisals.

"We're very concerned, because in past instances some individuals have decided to go out and target further innocent people because they look different or belong to a faith that is a minority," Saylor said.

One reporter asked the leaders gathered at the news conference how they could combat radical videos that pop up on social media.

Saylor said community leaders have forcefully pushed back against what they consider radical elements of the faith.

"Unfortunately every faith has within in it heretical elements, and unfortunately young people in general will listen to those elements."

Saylor said he and other leaders would continue to push back against the heretical element "loudly and clearly."

"We will stand up, we will push back against extremists, and I'm very comfortable we'll win against them eventually."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Massachusetts • Muslim • Quran • Terrorism • Violence

soundoff (742 Responses)
  1. NorCalMojo

    It's good to see Muslims condemning terrorism outright. No excuses, no "but I understand..." after their lukewarm condemnation. Just disgust like the rest of us.

    Progress!

    April 19, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Shakira

      Still won't be enough for some. They will say don't believe them, all Muslims lie ect.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      Yeah, it'll be a while before they're fully trusted again. They have a long road ahead of them. 40+ years of anti-Western rhetoric and terrorism is going to be hard to put behind them.

      Still, they seem to finally be taking the first steps.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Paulwisc

      They've done it before. You just have a short memory. Your bigotry is pretty strong, though, because you're condemning people who did nothing wrong because they happen to share the same religion as these guys.

      You simply don't know how to reason properly.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Jose M Pulido

      That was a half-ass condemnation because deep inside, they rejoice every time one of their fellow co-criminal Islamist/Muslims commit a terror act on US soil. Bunch of hypocrites.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  2. collectivedementia

    The reason for the Islamic condemnation is that these two are apparantly lone wolf types, and not a part of a larger approved terror organization like al-Qaida,Boko Haram,Hamas,etc. etc. If they represented any of the imam-approved pros,you would see dancing in the streets in the Middle East. And they would still be burning effigies of GWB.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  3. Bubba Blue

    Damn these bums we gotta get me like Putin now there's someone who brings the pain y'all Whoa

    April 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  4. American

    The sad part is, just like in England, they are taught this hatred in the mosques. This is just the beginning folks. All the apologies and condemnations are B.S.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Jose M Pulido

      American: You are right. May I add the fact that Mosques are Islamic/Muslim-terrorist branch offices where Islamists/Muslims brainwash people and incite them to plan, conspire and execute terrorist crimes against the USA, Israel and all other countries still free from the oppression of Islam. There is still a blind Egyptian preacher of Islamic hatred in a US prison for conspiring, in a Mosque, to commit crimes in American soil, in the name of Islam.
      Islamist not a religion, it is a deadly ideology disguised as a religion; it is a useless and worthless concoction of nonsense written by a pedophile womanizer. Islam has nothing to do with Abraham neither with Judaism or Christianity, nevertheless, Islamists call it one of the three great religions. Apart from the Jews, there are some Middle-Eastern people who are also descendants of Abraham but not all Middle-Eastern Islamists/Muslims are his descendants. The ones who are also descendants of Abraham should have a better relationship with Israel instead of trying to murder the Jews. The Bible mentions region called "Arabia," located south of Israel, which is where the original Arabs lived. Therefore, Arabs were there before Abraham was born; that obviously proves the fact that they were not descendants of Abraham. here were no Arabs/Islamists/Muslims in the Land of Canaan hen God gave that land to Israel, Nevertheless, Muslims portray the idea that all Arabs/Muslims/Islamists are direct descendants of Abraham.
      The Iranians are not even Arabs, much less descendants of Abraham, for which they should be grateful because they should have no ethnic, neither territorial quarrel with Israel. Nevertheless, the Iranian dictator president has expressed hatred toward Israel saying (paraphrased) that Israel should be pushed into the sea.
      Therefore, Islam has caused so many problems to its followers and to all other non Muslim countries of the world. In order to reinstate order in the world, the nuisance of Islam should be banned, at least in the USA for now. Islamists/Muslims have already changed the original American way of life because of their terror crimes. Now we have to be frisked like criminals at airports, which causes delays and annoyance to passengers.
      Nevertheless, Arabs, Muslims/Islamists keep migrating to the USA. Many overstay their visas and become illegal aliens when many people think all illegal liens are from Latin America; other Muslims/Islamists come to the USA as illegal aliens from the beginning. At least the Latin American aliens are mostly Christian but most Middle Eastern illegal aliens are Islamist/ Muslims.
      The reason Muslims/Islamists come to the USA is to increase their numbers in order to gain more political power and eventually replace our beloved democracy and impose Islam as the rule of law. If Islam is imposed in the USA, women will suffer the most because they will be turned into second class citizens wrapped like mommies in hot and heavy clothes.
      God already provided humankind the only way to salvation through Jesus Christ. After Jesus, there is no need for any other so-called religion to be in good terms with God. In the name of common sense, after God sent Jesus to Earth, does anyone in his/her right and sane mind believe He would send 600 years later pedophile adulterer and mass murderer to replace Jesus' way to salvation for eternal life?
      As Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the most recent Muslim terrorist perpetrators said (paraphrased) that her sons Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsaranev were "brainwashed." She is right but not only her two Muslim murderer sons were brainwashed but all Muslims are brainwashed by that deadly ideology called Islam. Even though other Muslims may not commit terrorist acts, they are still brain-washed simply by believing in the ideology of Islam.
      Therefore, if Islam is harmful to everyone's life, including that of Muslims/Islamists, why to follow such an awkward ideology? If Muslims/Islamists wish to live physically and mentally free and in peace with the rest of humankind, they could rid themselves of Islam. Islam is what makes them commit such heinous crimes against humanity. Every time Muslims/Islamist commit a terror crime, they confess and admit the fact that they did it in the name of Islam.
      Muslims/Islamists should know that if they continue committing terror crimes in the name of Islam, such ideology will eventually be legally considered what it is–an ideology harmful to democracy and will be banned from American soil. Muslims/Islamists cannot migrate legally or illegally to the USA, then commit crimes in the name of Islam and still call it a believer-friendly and necessary religion. We, as Americans, are not going to play your deadly game much longer.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  5. Concerned

    It is a shame that so-called journalist John King has summarily destroyed the credibility of CNN reporting. To "report" that the Boston Marathon bombing suspect was "dark skinned", and saying it numerous times, was and is racist, irresponsible and disrespectful. He should be sanctioned, if not FIRED! No other report from any other credible news organization reported that, and he pretended that his information was from a reliable source. Where did CNN get him from, a back-woods journalism school? He is Irish and should know by now that categorizing and broadcasting information that has not been verified is unprofessional and ignorant. SHAME ON YOU JOHN KING, AND CNN if he is not SEVERELY reprimanded!!!!!

    April 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  6. coyoteliberty

    The "religion of peace" exposed again for the fraud it is.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • na

      Looks like Kuku the Gorilla wants revenge.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Jose M Pulido

      It is more like "a religion of piece." They want a piece of every country in the world by imposing such a stupid ideology called Islam.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  7. Bubba Blue

    These damn Arabs, I say we get to business with some hellfire missles whereeva

    April 19, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  8. Ben

    Poor muslims. It is 99% of them that makes the 1% look bad.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Abdul Bun Humpin Kamel

      lol!

      April 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Michael Davis

      BAZINGA!

      April 20, 2013 at 1:52 am |
  9. Schussmann

    So, if the attacks had nothing to do with Islamic radicalism as CNN would like us to believe, then why did Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere felt it was necessary to "distance themselves from the suspects and condemn the deadly terror attack"?

    April 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Because if they had not, people like would have been saying that they are supporters of radical Islamic terrorists. It's a lose/lose situation for them with people like you, so they may as well get on record that they don't agree with what people think it was about. Remember, we don't know what the motivation was.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Because Muslims are the immediate scapegoat for many when an act of terror is committed.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Shakira

      Because if they didn't people like you and others would rail on them for not doing so. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  10. watash60

    brain dead liberals believe this crap from brain washed muslims

    April 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • goo6er

      Man, I would get so tired of always hating. Doesn't it wear on you?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Rich in TX

      goo6er: Liberals don't seem to tire of it. Why should conservatives?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  11. Wow

    You know, it's funny. CNN paints the image of their viewership as balanced and logical (in contrast to Fox News viewers). A quick scroll through these comments screams ignorance across all fronts. If you want to learn about the world, and those who inhabit it, the "news" is the last place to do so. Read a f-ing book.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
  12. Bostontola

    It's got to be tough being a good Muslim in the US, so many bad brothers you have to take the rap for.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  13. STFU

    Mohammad A. Dar, it is time you condemn the Boston bombing, not applaud bombers as muslim heroes

    April 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  14. gager

    I do not believe this nonsense. Muslims do not condem the orders from the prophet.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  15. Victor

    Muslim leaders and clerics will continue to condemn these acts until the population of Muslims reach over 1 percent, at that point in time, Jihad enters stage 2 where they'll begin more aggressively pushing Sharia and Islamic ways of life on everyone else. If you show me a peaceful Muslim, I'll show you a Muslim that is not interpreting the Quran correctly. It is nothing more than a handbook of war and violence. It doesn't teach forgiveness, it teaches revenge. It doesn't teach understanding and tolerance. It teaches that anyone who is not a devout Muslim is one to be shunned and punished once their numbers are high enough.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Shakira

      Paranoid, the US Muslim Population is at 3% and I dont see a push for Jihad or Sharia in any Mosque I go to.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • BaldEagle

      Every Moslem either harbors thoughts of killing a non- Moslem or supports a killer of non- Moslems. I just wish they would go back to the deserts of Arabia and fry with Mohammed.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Jose M Pulido

      You are right Victor. Islamists/Muslims are here to take over this country from within by increasing the number of their terrorists. Islam is not a religion but a deadly, worthless and useless ideology. Muslims who deny the truth about their evil intentions live in a state of denial worst than that of Bagdad Bob. If they keep blowing up buildings in the name of Islam and/or in the name of child-molester Mohammed, the USA will eventually ban Islam as an usurping ideology. We are not going to live in fear neither under Islamist/Muslim duress in our own country.
      As a justification of Islamist/Muslim acts of violence, right away they mention Timothy McVey, Ted Kaczynski and Erik R. Rudolph among others. But these latter criminals did not blow up any Mosque in the name of Islam or any other religion neither do they represent two billion people as Muslim terrorist do. Muslims do not seem to have enough intelligence to understand that whether Islam existed or not, those crimes by Tim, Ted and Erik, the American terrorists unfortunately would still happen. The difference is that when an Islamist/Muslims commits a terrorist act, they confess and admit the fact that it was in the name of Islam as the Tsarnaev brother did. But for some nonsensical reason, Islamists/Muslims always bring up these three guys ever time one of their so-called Islamist/Muslim brothers murders and/or maims American citizen.

      May 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  16. Shakira

    So Muslim leaders are screwed either way, they don't say anything they get slammed for being silent, they condemn the bombings and most of you say oh don't believe them. Love the double standards here. There is no evidence that is religion based other then these kids happen to be Muslims. Please continue your ignorance on here and condemn ALL 1.5 Billion Muslims by the actions of these kids. Ignorance at its best.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • BaldEagle

      You Moslems need to go back to Mohammed.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Jose M Pulido

      Shakira: What kids? I like the way you Muslims murderers downplay the situation to minimize the criminality of Islam. Those The Tsarnaev brothers were consenting adults when they murdered Bostonians in the name of Islam and not 14-year old "kids." They probably had the intelligence level of a 14-year old kid but do not try to portray them as "Kids" as if they were innocent children. They are premeditating Islamist/Muslim murderers.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Jose M Pulido

      Shakira: What kids? I like the way you Muslims murderers downplay the situation to minimize the criminality of Islam. The Tsarnaev brothers were consenting adults when they murdered Bostonians in the name of Islam and not 14-year old "kids." They probably had the intelligence level of a 14-year old kid but do not try to portray them as "Kids" as if they were innocent children. They are premeditating Islamist/Muslim murderers.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  17. GenichologistLegit

    They haven´t said they were muslims.
    they didn´t do the 72 virgins get.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  18. GnomicGarthe

    "Some of the links on his YouTube channels are to lectures by radical preachers, but the content of those lectures is more to do with religious practice than jihad or Islamist militancy." That claim is a patent lie. Go to the YouTube site and look at the postings. There are several links to radical preachers who are espousing violent jihad and preaching hatred towards all non-muslims and advocating the killing of all unbelievers. Another example of CNN trying to apologize and paste over politically inconvenient details.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  19. Evangelos

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

    April 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    A tragedy like this often leads one to abandon standard social conventions. Therefore let it be said that if you are reading this and you are a turnip, you may proceed. All other vegetables, including Christians, Muslims and Jews, please log out.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      ABSeas,

      Has the leak in your roof come back or,,, ?

      Hope the rest of your livelihood isn't so leaky! 🙂

      April 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      No leaks in roof LL, but leak in brain harder to plug.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.