RICHMOND

So OK, we have two brothers, the older one a boxer and the younger one a wrestler. To get away from the uncertainty of living in their native Chechnya, their family emigrated to the United States, where in the good old days, gold allegedly flowed in the streets, but not lately. However, they made do with welfare help.

It is natural for parents to defend their children's acts, even when they are notoriously evil, but the father and mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, back in Chechnya, have been beating away at the U.S. government and its 315,183,801 citizens in a dastardly way. They accuse us of making the Boston bombings a conspiracy of our government just so we could murder their older son, Tamerlan.

FBI agents and news reporters showed the parents the videos that were amassed after the bombings and the parents pooh-poohed what they saw with their own eyes. The mother was especially vehement. She claimed she had seen video images on the Internet that showed a naked Tamerlan being pushed into a police car. And the footage she saw on the following day showed him dead and terribly mutilated.

"Killed, truly killed," she moaned. "I wanted to scream, to scream to the whole world: What did you do? What have you done with my son? He was alive? Why did they need to kill him? Why not send him to Guantanamo or whatever? Why did they kill him? They got him alive. He was in their hands.


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Both parents speak English not quite as well as Russian, and the mother is an American citizen. She ruminated on what would have happened if the family had not gone to America.

"I thought America was going to like protect us, our kids, it was going to be safe for any reason. But it happened the opposite. My kids -- America took my kids away from me -- only America. So why wouldn't I regret? Why?"

Her plaint is not a new one for the parents of children whose offspring are accused of crime. "Not my kid," they say. "My kid was brought up to respect the law. He (or she) would never do anything like that."

Reporters know they are going to get this kind of an answer when they ask the accustomed question. It adds a bit of color to the story and is considered a balanced approach to crimes ranging from drunken driving to felony assault.

When a reporter told Mrs. Tsarnaev that the younger brother had told the FBI question team that the reason they carried out the bombing was an Islamic act to balance out what the United States had done in Iraq and Afghanistan, she reacted furiously. "His lawyers told me yesterday that he had not been questioned yet. Where does your information come from? Where does this information come from?"

The Tsarnaevs have an interesting police record in the United States, Tamerlan charged with domestic violence for hitting his girlfriend and the mother for shoplifting $1.600 worth of clothes from Boston's Lord & Taylor. Neither son nor mother was prosecuted for either crime.

The biggest question of all has to do with our relationship with Russia. A couple of years ago their intelligence service asked ours to check into Tamerlan and his activities. Two FBI agents questioned Tamerlan but that was as far as the investigation went. Too little and too late. The mother told reporters that Tamerlan held his own against the FBI. "He told them," she said, " ‘I am in a country that gives me the right to read whatever I want and watch whatever I want.' "

There are plenty of immigrants who come to this country for a better life and find it. A few become millionaires and a few even billionaires. The Tsarnaevs obviously got less than they wanted but so do the rest of us. We use pressure cookers for food preparation. Their minds worked otherwise.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle contributor.