For Chechen Refugee, Bombings Open Wounds Of War

Apr 24, 2013

Magomed Imakaev planted a medlar tree in his back yard outside of Boston to remind him of his native Chechnya.

Days after the Boston Marathon bombings, Magomed Imakaev’s seven-year-old daughter asked him a question that he didn’t know how to answer: “Dad, did you hear that the two bombers were Chechen?”

Imakaev, 27, fled Chechnya after years of war. And the violence that once consumed his homeland had found him once again, this time shattering the quiet refuge he and his family had found in the suburbs of Boston.

“As a Chechen, even if they were involved, I wanted to not believe that,” he says. “It’s a complete shock. It’s hard to describe in words.”

On this edition of The Story, Imakaev tells host Dick Gordon that Chechens in the United States lived largely anonymous lives before the two prime suspects in the Boston bombings were identified.

After Imakaev, his mother and sister arrived in the United States in 2004, they joined a small community of Chechens in the Boston area, and briefly met one of the brothers suspected in the bombings. Now, Imakaev is grappling with the heinous acts allegedly perpetrated by people who share his roots, and has a question of his own: Why?

Hear the full interview at The Story's site. Also in this show: Casey McKinlay, who pulled off a 21-hour dive through underwater caves that connect sinkholes near Tallahassee, Fla.