Anzor Tsarnaev told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview he did not believe Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had anything to do with the fatal attack in their adopted home town and had been singled out because of their Muslim faith.
"It is a provocation of the special services who went after them because my sons are Muslims and don't have anyone in America to protect them," said the elder Tsarnaev, who spoke to the Times from the Dagestan region. He added his boys had no training in handling firearms or explosives.
The family moved to the United States from Chechnya, which has been the scene of sometimes-violent clashes between government authorities and Muslim separatists. It was not clear why the boys' father returned to Russia.
Officials in Chechnya told the Times the family left Chechnya years ago and the situation in the republic had cooled off significantly since then.
"If these kids are really Chechens it is very unlikely that they could travel all the way around the world to explode something in the United States. It sounds like science fiction to me," said Lyoma Gudayev, deputy information minister for Chechnya. "The west keeps thinking that we are a troubled republic but the war is long over for us down here.