MANCHESTER (MCT) - A Chechen rebel-turned-refugee - whose meetings with marathon bombing mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev drew FBI agents to search his home this week - wrapped himself in the U.S. flag Friday, saying he loves his adopted country and the deadly attacks left him with "shame and fear."
"I strongly condemn the horrible act at the Boston Marathon that claimed the lives of innocent and wounded many more," Musa Khadzhimuratov wrote in a statement he says he made "with a clear conscience and open heart."
"My deepest condolences to families who lost their loved ones, to the people of America, who gave me and my family shelter and safety. I am sincere in saying that America has become a new, beloved home for me and my family, and we appreciate the freedom and peace this country gives us.
"I am sure, the FBI knows by now that I have nothing to do with the terrible act in Boston," he wrote.
FBI agents first questioned him April 29, two weeks after the bombings. They searched his house Tuesday and have interviewed him repeatedly about his social meetings with Tsarnaev, most recently in March. Khadzhimuratov told Voice of America, a news agency run by the U.S. government, that agents asked him about Tsarnaev's bulk fireworks purchases at a store in Seabrook and his target-shooting trips to the Manchester Firing Line Range.
The Herald reported last month that Tsarnaev bought a pair of mortar kits at the store in February. Cliff Ellston, the range's compliance officer, declined to say whether Tsarnaev ever took target practice there.
Khadzhimuratov, whose name is spelled Khadjimuradov in the statement, is a former Chechen separatist fighter who was paralyzed in a shooting 12 years ago and came to the United States through a United Nations refugee program in 2004.
Khadzhimuratov said in his statement he "barely knew the Tsarnaev family ... we have never discussed political or religious issues, so I could never guess what ideas were in their minds."
"What they have done cannot be justified by any background, any political or religious idea," he said. "Their acts only brought shame and fear in our hearts."