MOSCOW, May 1 (RIA Novosti) – US investigators are looking into links between the main suspect in the Boston bombings and a Russian-born Canadian boxer-turned-jihadist killed last July, CNN reported late Monday.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in the wake of the April 15 Boston attacks, was apparently acquainted with Islam convert William Plotnikov, the report said, citing a source familiar with the investigation.
Plotnikov, born in the Tyumen Region in Western Siberia, moved to Toronto with his family in 2004, when he was 15.
Ironically, one of the reasons for the move was his father’s desire for preventing his son, an amateur boxer, from joining a Russian criminal gang, which are keen on recruiting athletes, Canadian newspaper National Post said in 2012.
Instead of organized crime, Plotnikov took interest in radical Islam, becoming a Muslim and eventually moving back to Russia. He was shot dead in a gunfight with the law enforcements in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the main hotbed of Russia’s Islamist insurgency.
Plotnikov and Tsarnaev, who was also a boxing enthusiast, communicated online, and may have met in person at a boxing tournament in Canada in 2009 or in Dagestan, where Tsarnaev spent about six months in 2012, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta said last Saturday.
Tsarnaev is also checked for links to Mahmoud Mansur Nidal, another alleged militant slain by law enforcements in Dagestan last May, CNN said.
Tsarnaev, alleged to have masterminded the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three, died under unclear circumstances when trying to escape police on April 19.
The cause of death is expected to be made public after Tsarnaev’s body is handed over to his family, which became possible after his widow Katherine Russell declined Tuesday to reclaim his remains, The Boston Globe reported.