Exploring suspects' Chechnyan background

Published On: Apr 19 2013 04:08:17 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 19 2013 06:47:10 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The two brothers identified as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings grew up in a Russian region near Chechnya but have had little to do with the area for about eight years.

It's still unclear why, according to investigators, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev set out to kill Americans. The Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, on Friday said their upbringing is to blame.

"As to the Tsarnaevs, we are not familiar with them, they did not live here, according to media reports, they grew up and lived in America. So it's their education, not ours," Kadyrov said.

The Tsarnaev brothers fled Chechnya with their family in the 1990s and lived in Kazakhstan for several years before coming to the U.S. as refugees.

University of North Florida professor Christine Difato says the Chechen region has ties to extremists groups, but it's still too early to make that link to this case.

"The only thing I can either understand, either they have connections to another organization to someone unknown to us, or they are trying to raise awareness to the plight of Chechnya on a global stage," Difato said.

When the Soviet Union broke apart after the Cold War, Chechens wanted their independence from Russia Central Authority. Extremist groups were birthed out of the conflict, including Al Qaeda offshoot groups.

But there's still the possibility of the Boston bombings being self-radicalized terror. Speaking to the media Friday, the suspects' uncle said that's a more likely scenario.

"Again, the only -- I say what I think what's behind it -- being losers, not being able to settle themselves and thereby just hating everyone who did," said Ruslan Tsarni.