Updated: 04/22/2013 3:05 PM KSTP.com
(AP) TORONTO - An aunt of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said Friday the older brother recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day, and she doesn’t believe the brothers could have been involved in Monday’s attack.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev had married and had a 3-year-old daughter in the U.S., Maret Tsarnaeva told reporters in Toronto.
"He has a wife in Boston and from a Christian family, so you can’t tie it to religion," she said. "At that age all they want is love, so he found his love, he married, he had a daughter, and he was very happy about his daughter."
But she said the 26-year-old Tamerlan "seemingly did not find himself yet in America, because it’s not easy."
Tamerlan was killed Thursday night during a shootout with police, and a huge manhunt was under way in the Boston area for his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar.
Tsarnaeva said she wants proof the brothers are involved in the bombing.
"We’re talking about three dead people, 100-something injured, and I do not believe, I just do not believe our boys would do that ... I don’t know them in the way that they could be capable of this," Tsarnaeva said.
She said her brother Anzor Tsarnaev had high expecations for his sons, especially Tamerlan.
She said her brother was desperate when he found out Tamerlan had dropped out of his university. She said he always demanded more of his children and said Tamerlan was his favorite.
Tamerlan wasn’t a devout practicing Muslim, "but just recently, maybe two years ago, he started praying five times a day," she said.
Tsarnaeva called both boys smart and athletic.
"Within the family, everything was perfect because Anzor is a very loving, soft-hearted father. I don’t know what will happen to him," she said.
She said her first reaction was anger because she could not understand why the brothers would be involved and what possible cause they would have. She said she called the FBI and asked for evidence and suggested they were set up.
Tsarnaeva said her brother’s family came to the United States in 2002 after she helped them apply for refugee status. She said the family also has two sisters who live in Boston.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)