In the years before the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tsarnaev family was ripped apart as eldest son Tamerlan and his mother, Zubeidat, embraced a stricter version of Islam, the Wall Street Journal finds. Zubeidat says she pushed Tamerlan to embrace Islam during a period of personal turmoil that included a domestic violence arrest and the murder of a close friend, but her husband was angered by the changes the move brought, especially when Tamerlan decided to give up boxing as un-Islamic. The couple, who split up about two years ago, returned to the Russian republic of Dagestan years ago and both believe their sons are being framed for the attack.
Tamerlan—whose trip to southern Russia last year is a major focus of the investigation—became increasingly strident about religion over the last couple years and began to start arguments at the mosque he attended. Before the shootout that left him with fatal injuries, his mother says he called her a final time. "The police, they have started shooting at us, they are chasing us," she says he told her. "Mama, I love you." She says she and her husband plan to return to the US to clear their sons' names, the Los Angeles Times reports. Her younger son, Dzhokhar, is still in the hospital but has reportedly regained consciousness and started answering questions. (Meanwhile, investigators are looking into whether Tamerlan was involved in that close friend's murder.)