A small Muslim cemetery in Virginia is responsible for offering Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev a final resting place, The Washington Times reported today.
The Al-Barzakh Cemetery in Doswell, about 15 miles from Richmond, is the first Muslim resting place in the region. Arrangements for Tsarnaev’s burial came after a woman saw the protestors outside the Worcester, Mass., funeral home holding the body. She contacted the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond and asked its members to help find a suitable burial site.
Worcester police announced the burial on Thursday but declined to disclose the location of the cemetery. The said only that a "courageous" and "compassionate" person stepped forward to help.
Controversy raged around the burial, and as of Wednesday, nineteen days after Tsarnaev’s death following a deadly gun battle with police, cemeteries across the area still refused to accept his remains.
Tsarnaev was fatally wounded in Watertown, just outside Boston, after police confronted him in a stolen car. He was shot several times, before his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarvaev ran over him as he escaped. The brothers are accused of placing two bombs made from pressure cookers at the end of the Boston Marathon on April 15. The blast killed three and wounded more than 200.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow declined to take possession of the body. She is staying with her family in Rhode Island and is allegedly cooperating with authorities, although earlier this week she hired a criminal lawyer with experience in terrorism cases. Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who denounced his nephews in interviews during the manhunt that ended in one’s death and the other’s capture, claimed the body. He said his nephew deserved a decent burial. Tsarni and three friends arrived at the funeral home Sunday to wash and shroud Tsarnaev’s body according to Muslim tradition.
"I'm dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried," he told reporters.
Cambridge's city manager urged the Tsarnaev family not to try to bury him in the city, citing potential disruption. Peter Stefan, whose funeral home accepted Tsarnaev's body last week, said Tuesday that none of the 120 offers of graves from the U.S. and Canada worked out because officials in those cities and towns didn’t want the body. One of the most recent offers came from retired Vermont teacher Paul Keane, who said Monday he'd donate a spot at his family plot in Hamden, Conn. His condition was that it be dedicated to the memory of his mother, a Christian who taught him to "love thine enemy."
Sending Tsarnaev’s body to Russia was not an option either, although Stefan appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to consider it. Tsarnaev's mother said Russian authorities wouldn’t allow her son's body into the country so she could bury him in her native Dagestan. Russian authorities deflected all questions related to her comments.
On Wednesday, police in Worcester, west of Boston, begged for a resolution, saying they had already spent tens of thousands of dollars to protect the funeral home amid protests.
"We are not barbarians," police Chief Gary Gemme said. "We bury the dead."
Tanya Marsh, an expert in U.S. burial law told the Associated Press the resistance to Tsarnaev's burial was unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last year.
"It's very unusual that people are so fixated on this," said Marsh, a Wake University professor. "There are a lot of evil people buried in marked graves in the United States. Traditionally, in the United States, … when somebody dies, that's the end of their punishment."