Mosque: FBI interviewed 3 congregants about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The FBI has interviewed three congregants of a Cambridge mosque attended by the Boston bombing suspects, mosque officials said Tuesday.
Yusufi Vali, executive director of a Roxbury mosque who spoke at a news conference on behalf of the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge, said mosque officials urged their congregants who knew the brothers to talk to law enforcement this past Friday, when they learned the older brother was a bombing suspect and had attended the mosque near his Cambridge home.
While Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, attended the mosque "intermittently," mosque officials said, his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, came only once with Tamerlan. Mosque officials said they don't take attendance records, but they don't believe any other Tsarnaev family members attended the mosque.
"We said, "Listen, if you know these suspects, let law enforcement know," said Vali, who declined to identify the three, saying he wanted to protect their privacy.
Vali said he also reached out to local, state and federal law enforcement officials to offer assistance in their investigation and offered to assist with a mediator during the Watertown, Mass., standoff between police and the surviving brother. Officials didn't respond to the offer of a mediator, he said.
Vali said Tamerlan Tsarnaev didn't attend services at the mosque regularly and didn't express anti-American sentiments other than the previously reported incidents "to my knowledge."
He reiterated that Tamerlan was angrily derided in January by congregants when a preacher praised the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Tamerlan stood up and shouted, "Hypocrite!" Congregants reacted angrily, he said, and Tamerlan left. He returned a few times after that, without further incident, officials said.
Last summer, Tamerlan also expressed displeasure when a preacher encouraged congregants to celebrate American holidays such as the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, Vali said. The mosque's leadership told Tamerlan after the second incident in January that his behavior was unacceptable, Vali said. He continued to attend the mosque.
Vali said the mosque preaches an "American Islamic theology" that "celebrates the traditions of America."
He added, the bombings were "absolutely disgraceful. We as Bostonians want to see them brought to justice."
Nichole Mossalan, executive director of the Cambridge mosque, said Tamerlan's outbursts didn't rise to the level that mosque officials thought they should contact police.
"We are a very open, diverse and mainstream community," she said. "If their views are different, we didn't welcome that."