The mother of the Boston Marathon bombers spoke out yesterday to say her sons were innocent despite the dramatic two-day shoot-out and mahunt that had the world holding its breath.
Zubeidat Tsarnaev claimed last night that her sons were framed after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured by a SWAT team following an hour-long gunfight from his hiding place inside a boat.
She said: "I am like 100 per cent sure that this is a set-up.
"My two sons are really innocent and I know that neither of them have never talked about whatever they're saying about now."
The brothers killed a police officer on Thursday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then hijacked a car, leading police through the city in a car chase and and shoot-out in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was fatally wounded.
But Zubeidat staunchly denied all of this: "He would never be on the side of Jihad. He would never do this.
"My sons are innocent, it is impossible for them to do such things. I am really telling you this is a set-up."
As Boston begins its road to recovery, Zubeidat and her husband Anzor Tsarnaev, from Dagestan, a volatile area of the Russian Caucasus region, continued to protest that their children were not guilty of the terror attack.
Anzor described the killing of Tamerlan as "cowardly" and added: "Someone framed them. I don't know exactly who did it, but someone did."
Zubeidat explained: "My youngest was raised from eight years in America. My oldest was really properly raised in our house. Nobody talked about terrorism."
She also claimed that her dead son Tamerlan had been under FBI surveillance for at least three years.
"He [Tamerlan] was 'controlled' by the FBI, like, for three to five years," she said.
Tsarnaev suggested FBI officers had visited her home when she still lived in the United States and told her that Tamerlan "was really an extremist leader and that they were afraid of him".
"It is really, really a hard thing to hear. And being a mother, what I can say is that I am really sure, I am, like, 100 percent sure, that this is a set-up," she said.
US government officials have said the brothers were not under surveillance as possible militants.
But the FBI said in a statement on Friday that in 2011 it interviewed Tamerlan at the request of a foreign government, which it did not identify, though sources have suggested it was Russia.
It said the matter was closed because interviews with Tamerlan and family members "did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign".
The FBI statement was the first evidence that the family had come to security officials' attention after they emigrated to the United States from Dagestan about a decade ago.
CAPTION: denial: Zubeidat
CAPTION: TsarnaevBLOOD BROTHERS: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and (below) dad Anzor
CAPTION: MAUREEN COLEMAN PAGE 12