By Samuel Burke, CNN
Chechen opposition leader in exile Akhmed Zakayev denied on Tuesday that the Tsarnaev brothers have any ties to militant groups in Chechnya in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“Of course not,” Zakayev said about any suspicions of ties. “Our great regrets is that the suspects of this crime are ethnic Chechens – it’s true. But I can assure you, however, that the Chechen people do not have any motives or reasons to have some feelings [against] the United States.”
On behalf of his community, Zakayev expressed condolences to those were injured, as well to the families of the victims who were killed.
Chechnya, in southern Russia, has long been a troubled region, with its own history of terrorism.
United States authorities are investigating whether the Tsarnaev brothers, in allegedly planning the Boston bombings, had any Chechen funding or training.
So far, American authorities say that communications from the surviving brother, Dzhokhar, indicate that the two were not directed by any international terrorist group.
Instead, they appear to have been radicalized by Islamic extremist literature and videos on the internet.
The Washington Post reports that Dzhokhar told authorities that he and his brother were also motivated by America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are Chechens who have joined anti-Americans in that region, but Zakayev doesn’t believe those connections played in role with the Tsarnaev brothers.
“I should admit in the Northern Caucuses we have really [radicalized] Islamic movements,” but Zakayev said it has to do with the political conflict in that area, not with problems with the West. “We are not Islamic international terrorists.”