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Why the alleged Boston bombers' mom probably won't be extradited (+video)

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva may stay out of American custody because the US and Russia do not have a bilateral extradition treaty, despite efforts by Moscow to negotiate one.

By Correspondent / April 28, 2013

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva at a news conference in Dagestan, Russia, on Thursday. Her sister Maryam, right, is with her.

Musa Sadulayev/AP



The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, has become a focus of interest after it emerged that her name had been added to a key terrorist watchlist in 2011 and fresh materials, including wiretaps, handed over to the US by the Russians showed her "vaguely discussing" jihad with her elder son two years ago. 

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Fred Weir has been the Monitor's Moscow correspondent, covering Russia and the former Soviet Union, since 1998. 

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Ms. Tsarnaeva, a naturalized US citizen who moved back to Russia a few years ago, has best been known until now as the most passionate defender of her two sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, up to the point of insisting that they were "framed" because they were Muslims. Now investigators may want to look into what role she may have played, if any, in the radicalization process that may have led her two sons to carry out the Boston Marathon bombing almost two weeks ago.

Tsarnaeva was reportedly added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database in 2011 at the request of US intelligence agencies. That list, which held about 750,000 names at the time, is used to compile the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist used as the main reference tool by airlines and law enforcement agencies. It is believed her name, and that of her son Tamerlan, were appended to the list after the Russian FSB security service appealed for more information about the pair to the FBI and the CIA and warned of their growing radicalization

In recent days the Russians have also turned over wiretaps of conversations between Tsarnaeva, who was by that time back living in her native Dagestan, and her son Tamerlan in Boston. In one they reportedly discuss "jihad" in a general way. In another, Tsarnaeva is recorded talking with someone who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case.

In his annual town hall meeting with the Russian public last Thursday, President Vladimir Putin called for stepped up security cooperation between the US and Russia in the wake of the Boston tragedy. He downplayed any links between Russia and the Boston bombers, and added "to our great regret" Russian security forces lacked any "operative information" that they might have shared with US law enforcement in the run up to the attack.

Tsarnaeva is an ethnic Avar, one of the largest groups in Russia's multi-national, but solidly Muslim, mountain republic of Dagestan which abuts the Caspian Sea. Dagestan has been wracked for over a decade by a growing Islamist insurgency that has made parts of the republic a no-go zone even for law enforcement.


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