EXCLUSIVE - 'They just wanted to get married': Why Boston bomber chose cramped office for wedding to Muslim convert wife

  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Katherine Russell were married in the small office of an imam at a mosque in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 2010
  • The 15-minute ceremony ended with a handshake - not a kiss
  • Tsarnaev set up the wedding by calling the imam out of the blue and asking him to officiate

By Daniel Bates In Dorchester, Massachusetts

PUBLISHED: 12:04 EST, 24 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:20 EST, 24 April 2013

The older of the two Boston Marathon ‘bombers’married his Muslim convert wife in a quickie ceremony in a cramped office above a mosque in front of just five friends and family, MailOnline can reveal today.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Katherine Russell exchanged vows and were given an Islamic blessing in June 2010 as they stood in front of a cluttered desk with a dusty filing cabinet to their side.

The few onlookers squeezed into the 8-foot-by-12foot room and would have had to move a patio chair outside so they could all fit.

It is not clear if their parents even attended the 15 minute service which did not end with the bride and groom kissing but instead concluded with a simple handshake from the Imam.

Cramped: This is the tiny office in the Masjid of The Quran Mosque in Dorchester, Massachusetts, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Katherine Russell were married

Cramped: This is the tiny office in the Masjid of The Quran Mosque in Dorchester, Massachusetts, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Katherine Russell were married

Quickie wedding: Tsarnaev called the imam at the mosque and asked 'out of the blue' if he would perform the wedding ceremony

Quickie wedding: Tsarnaev called the imam at the mosque and asked 'out of the blue' if he would perform the wedding ceremony

Secret? It's unknown whether either Tsarnaev's family or Ms Russell's family knew about the wedding or approved of it at the time

The unlikely location of the mosque - a 15 minute drive from the home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that the couple were sharing - suggests they may have wanted to avoid the scrutiny of their families as they ‘just wanted to get married’.

It is also not clear if their mothers and fathers approved of the wedding - Tamerlan’s mother Zubeidat arranged marriages for his two sisters - but by that stage Katherine may have already been pregnant with their child, now aged around three.

A few months earlier she had quit her communications degree at Suffolk College near the end of her third out of four years.

Tamerlan set up the wedding by phoning Imam Taalib Mahdee at the Masjid al Quran mosque in a run-down area of Dorchester, Massachusetts, out of the blue and asking him to officiate.

The ceremony took place in his third floor office above the mosque which is up a creaky and badly lit set of wooden stairs.

Legally wed: Tsarnaev and Ms Russell filed the paperwork to get married on June 21, 2010. Ms Russell may have already been pregnant with the couple's daughter

Legally wed: Tsarnaev and Ms Russell filed the paperwork to get married on June 21, 2010. Ms Russell may have already been pregnant with the couple's daughter

Handshake: Imam Taalib Mahdee performed the 15-minute ceremony in his office. It ended with him shaking the hands of the bride and groom

Handshake: Imam Taalib Mahdee performed the 15-minute ceremony in his office. It ended with him shaking the hands of the bride and groom

Inside there is just enough room for a desk, a bookcase at the back and a dust-covered TV on the floor.

The two windows are covered with gold curtains with patterns on them and there is a coat stand on which Imam Mahdee keeps his ceremonial white robe.

The service took place on June 21 2010.

Speaking to MailOnline, Imam Mahdee said: ‘I only saw him for 15 minutes.

‘His wife asked if I could marry them and I said as long as you have your licence I will be able to marry you. They got the licence and I married them and that was it. I didn't know him before.’

Imam Mahdee said that he recalls giving a blessing about ‘the importance of the institution of marriage, being respectful of each other and the vows you take, you take a sacred vow to live under the banner or shade of God.'

There were about five people present and witnesses but he could not recall if any of them were parents.

The imam condemned the bombing of the Boston Marathon and said he never would have foreseen that Tsarnaev could commit such an act

The imam condemned the bombing of the Boston Marathon and said he never could have foreseen that Tsarnaev would commit such an act

He said: ‘They were happy to get married.

‘We opened up with a prayer, the first chapter of The Koran. We would recognise what they were doing and the sacred bond of marriage, they gave their vows and that's it.

‘Some people want a 30 minute marriage, some people want an hour marriage. They just wanted to get married, so it was a 15 minute marriage.’

It is not clear if Katherine had already converted to Islam at that stage as, under Muslim law, a Muslim man can marry somebody from outside the religion so long as he is a believer.

Imam Mahdee said there was no kiss for the bride at the end of the service.

He said ‘We don't have that as part of the ceremony. After they took their vows, we gave each other the greetings and left. 

‘We said As-Salamu Alaykum, or peace be upon you, shook hands and left.’

The wedding certificate, which MailOnline has obtained, lists the groom as Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev and Katherine Osborn Russell as the bride.

He was born in Kalmykia in Russia and she lists her place of birth as El Paso, Texas.

Tamerlan’s job is listed as a driver whilst Katherine says she is a student. She later became a healthcare assistant working 80 hours a week whilst he stayed at home with their child.

Attention: Ms Russell has received large amounts of national attention since it was revealed that she converted to Islam and married Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Attention: Ms Russell has received large amounts of national attention since it was revealed that she converted to Islam and married Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Tsarnaev is believed to have 'self-radicalized' over his hatred of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and his feeling that he needed to 'defend Islam'

Tsarnaev is believed to have 'self-radicalized' over his hatred of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and his feeling that he needed to 'defend Islam'

Two months later the newlyweds took their wedding certificate to a registrar who signed it off and put her own signature on it, making it official in the state of Massachusetts.

Asked what he thought about the Boston Marathon bombings, which Tamerlan allegedly carried out with younger brother Dzhokhar, 19, Imam Mahdee said it was ‘terrible’.

Tamerlan died in a hail of bullets as the pair tried to flee police and Dzhokhar sustained serious injuries. He has now been charged over the deaths of three people and the injuries sustained to more than 180.

Imam Mahdee said: ‘When somebody hurts people for political reasons, it's a terrible circumstance.

‘I don't think any religion can justify the things that people do today
under the guise of religion.

‘When someone is asking to get married you're not looking into the future.

‘You're looking at that time that you're with that couple. You expect that that couple that's in front of you will live a good God-conscious life.

‘You don't perceive what happens (later).’
 

By Staff 04/24/2013 09:20:00