"Of all the localities in the United States, this was probably the last one we would have thought of," he said.
What would happen to the body of the man who, along with his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was accused of setting off two deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon on April 15 had been a nearly month-long puzzle.
The body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in a police pursuit days after the bombings, went unclaimed for nearly two weeks. A funeral home in Worcester -- about 40 miles west of downtown Boston -- eventually accepted the remains.
But protesters in Worcester made it clear they didn't want the body buried there, with one holding a sign that read, "Bury the garbage in the landfill." And the city manager of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Tsarnaev lived, said he would not allow Tsarnaev to be buried in the city, asserting that possible protests and media coverage would disrupt the community.
It also appeared that sending the body overseas was an unlikely option -- Tamerlan Tsarnaev's parents in the Russian region of Dagestan said they would not fly his body back to Russia for burial, citing passport problems, spokeswoman Heda Saratova said.
In a press release issued Friday, the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond said that a "private Virginia citizen" and licensed counselor named Martha Mullen "quietly coordinated efforts to resolve the problem of where to bury Tsarnaev's remains."
That included e-mails exchanged with representatives of the church she belonged to, as well as local Muslim, Jewish and Hindu representatives. She contacted Worcester police "after receiving an offer of a burial plot from the administration of the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia," the society said.
Mullen also talked with her local pastor about the moral implications of her spearheading the effort.
"Jesus tells us, 'Love your enemies,' " she said, according to the Islamic Society. "Not to hate them, even after they are dead."
Abdel-Alim, who is vice president of the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia and attended Thursday's burial, stressed Friday "there is no agreement with (Tsarnaev's) actions, whatsover, in any form or fashion." At the same time, he said "somebody needed to take responsibility."
"We were able to do so, and that's what we did," he said.
Tsarnaev's mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, appeared confused by Thursday's announcement from Worcester police. Speaking to CNN from Russia by phone Thursday evening, Zubeidat Tsarnaev said she didn't know whether her son was buried or where.
Tsarni -- who was the main point of contact over what to do with Tamerlan Tsarnaev's remains, according to Abdel-Alim -- said Friday that he called his nephew's father Thursday "to give him an update, but I did not tell him where he was buried."
"He didn't even ask me," Tsarni said.
Zubeidat Tsarnaev told CNN in late April that her husband couldn't travel to the United States, saying he was too ill. She said she eventually would be interested in heading to the United States to see her younger son, despite pending shoplifting charges against her in Massachusetts, where she once lived.
Tsarni said Friday he was "completely outraged that (the parents) have not been here for their children."
"My assumption is that they must be here, just to help with the investigation at least," Tsarni said.