Anger Over Burial Of Boston Bomb Suspect

Community News


Associated Press – May 11, 2013 - - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in a rural cemetery in Virginia, infuriating some members of the area's Muslim community as well as local officials who said they were not consulted.

Some of the officials said on Friday that that they would examine whether all laws were followed and could seek to have his body moved elsewhere.

They said they were not informed about the burial and were concerned about the site becoming a shrine to anti-US sympathizers.

This week's interment at a small Islamic cemetery ended a long search for a community willing to take the body, which had been kept at a funeral parlour in Massachusetts.

Tsarnaev was killed on April 19 after a gun battle with police. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured later and remains in custody.

The ethnic Chechens, who had lived in the US for several years, are accused of setting off two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs on April 15 near the marathon's finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

Ruslan Tsarni, the brothers' uncle, took responsibility for the body after Tamerlan's wife, Katherine Russell, said she wanted it released to her in-laws.

He said his nephew was buried in a cemetery in Doswell with the help of a faith coalition. "The body's buried," he said. "That's it."

'Reviled and maligned'

Dozens of communities approached about hosting a gravesite had refused, many with concerns about vandalism and a backlash from the public.

Martha Mullen, a mental health counsellor who helped arrange the burial, told the AP news agency in a brief telephone interview that she had offered to help after seeing news reports about the refusals.

Mullen said she was not the only person who helped with arrangements.

She said the backlash from some local officials, some cemetery neighbours and online critics has been unpleasant, but she has no regrets.

"I can't pretend it's not difficult to be reviled and maligned," she said. "But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people that are not like you, that's what God calls us to do."

Mullen, a graduate of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, sent emails to various faith organisations to see what could be done.

She heard back from the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, which arranged for a funeral plot at the Al-Barzakh cemetery.

The cemetery is hidden among the rural woods and hills, about 50km north of Richmond, and contains only 47 graves in all.

No consultation

Sheriff Tony Lippa and Board of Supervisors chairman Floyd Thomas of Caroline County said no state or local officials were told that Tsarnaev would be buried there.

Permission is not required from officials as long as laws are followed. The officials said they do not want the county remembered as the resting place for someone allegedly tied to a horrific act, but it was unlikely they would be able to do anything.

Imam Ammar Amonette, of the Islamic Centre of Virginia, said his group was never consulted and that Mullen reached out to a separate group, the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond.

"The whole Muslim community here is furious. Frankly, we are furious that we were never given any information. It was all done secretly behind our backs," Amonette said, adding it "makes no sense whatsoever" that Tsarnaev's body was buried in Virginia.

"Now everybody who's buried in that cemetery, their loved ones are going to have to go to that place."

Bukhari Abdel-Alim, vice president of The Islamic Funeral Services in Virginia, said in a statement that they disagree with Tsarnaev's actions but are obligated to "return his body to the earth".

"Its not a political thing, it's more so we have somebody that has passed away, he can't bury himself," he said.

"Somebody needed to take responsibility, we were able to do so, and that's what we did," he said while reading the statement from the cemetery."

Tsarnaev's death certificate shows he was shot by police in the firefight on the night of April 18 and run over and dragged by a vehicle.

He died a few hours later on April 19. Authorities have said his brother ran over him in his getaway attempt.

Tsarnaev's mother said Russia refused to allow his body into the country so she could bury him in her native Dagestan, but Russian authorities refused comment. ###


A Statement From A Muslim Within The Faith Coalition That Buried Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Muslim Cemetery

Some of you may have heard different stories in the news about this burial. Here are some things you need to know also. Al-Barzakh Islamic Cemetery is owned and operated by Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, Inc., a 501(c)(13) nonprofit cemetery company we formed a few years ago due to the dire need for it in the Muslim community. It was the first Islamic cemetery in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Regardless to what conclusion you have come to and how you feel about him, Tamerian Tsarnaev was a human being. His dead body deserved to be buried. The dead body of Adam Lanza who killed 26 people (including 20 children) at Sandy Hook Elementary School deserved to be buried also... and was buried with little notice. Your dead body will also deserve to be buried, regardless to how you die or what you did before you died, whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jew, or don't identify with any religion.

The reporter misquoted me. I did not say anything about "his violent actions." I said "He has been buried. His dead body deserved to be buried." I do not know of any of his violent actions. He had not been convicted of any crime, except by the media and government agencies. Adam Lanza evidently tried, convicted himself and carried out his own execution. I believe he was buried as a Christian which he professed to be. G-d knows best. Tamerian Tsarnaev professed to be a Muslim. G-d knows best. 

Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia is quoted as saying that  " ...He is not happy about it," and "...The whole Muslim community here is furious. Frankly, we are furious that we were never given any information. It was all done secretly, behind our backs."  Imam Amonette does not speak for the "whole Muslim community here." Nothing was done behind anyone's back. Some discretion was needed due to the media-incited controversy swirling around this matter from the beginning. Further controversy and incitement was not needed.

I and other members of the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, Inc. have been flooded with media and personal calls concerning this matter. Here is sound basis for the action taken by the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia:

It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) stood up for a bier that was passing by containing the body of a Christian. When asked why he stood up, he said "...that dead body has obeyed its Lord." So Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia did not need to consult the whole Muslim community to bury a dead body. It consulted among its members, supporters and the Qur'an and the sunnah (traditions and practices of our Prophet). Prayers and peace be upon him. That is our way of life, or our religion. What would Muhammad have done? What would Moses have done? What would Jesus have done? Peace be upon them.

We pray that Allah, The All-Knowing, The Most Merciful, will bless us to follow the best paths, strengthen our faith and judgment, forgive us and have mercy on us and guide us always to the best in this life and the next.

Peace, Bilal Yasin El-Amin