April 21, 2013 2:32 pm

Russian militant group denies Boston link

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This undated image released by the Boston Police Department shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect identified by authorities as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is the subject of a April 19, 2013 manhunt in the Boston area.©AFP

The main militant group in Russia’s southern Caucasus region, the Caucasus Emirate, has denied responsibility for last week’s Boston bombing, suggesting that US investigators look into Russia’s special services instead.

The two brothers accused of carrying out the April 15 bombing, which left three dead, are ethnic Chechens, though they have spent the past decade living in the US.

Investigators are examining a six-month trip that the deceased 26-year-old elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, took to Russia’s Caucasus last year to determine if he linked up with militants. His 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, remained hospitalised on Sunday after being captured by police following a dramatic manhunt on Friday.

But in a statement issued on Sunday, the Caucasus Emirate said it had no contact with either of the alleged bombers.

In a statement posted on the website Vdagestan.com and the Kavkaz Center blog, the “Command of the Mujhadeen of the Vilayat in Dagestan” noted what it called “speculative statements” that had followed “the well-known incidents in Boston”.

It denied any link to the Boston attacks or the suspects.

“The Command of the Vilayat states that the Caucasian Mujahadeen are not carrying out attacks against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia which is responsible not only for the occupation of the Caucasus but unbelievable crimes against Muslims,” the group wrote.

The group said it had sworn off violence against civilians since 2012 following an order from its secretive leader Doku Umarov that applied to “the enemy government of Russia” as well.

The order is a departure for the Emirate which claims credit for all major terrorist attacks in Russia since 2007, including the 2010 bombing of the Moscow metro, and the 2011 attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. Both attacks were carried out by multiple suicide bombers.

The statement followed conflicting reports about Mr Umarov’s links to the elder Tsarnaev brother Tamerlan, who died in a police shoot-out early Friday. Fox News in the US reported over the weekend that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was exploring links between the Emirate and Mr Tsarnaev, who posted Emirate videos to his personal YouTube account. However, Russian news service Interfax cited a source in Russian law enforcement denying there was evidence of any connection.

“At the present moment there is no reliable information about a connection between the Tsarnaev brothers and extremists from so-called Caucasus Emirate,” the person was quoted as saying, but added that Russia would co-operate with the US on any investigation requests.

Separately, Interfax reported that neither Tamerlan Tsarnaev nor his brother Dzhokhar had been listed in the police databases of wanted persons in Dagestan, Chechnya or Ingushetia.

While the Emirate did not explicitly state whether it had come into contact with either or both of the brothers, it implied that it did not have any links with them.

“If the US authorities really are interested in establishing the true organisers of the bombing in Boston and are not simply co-participants in a Russian show, they should concentrate on the involvement of Russian special services in the events.”

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