EXCLUSIVE: Widow of Boston Bomber goofs around with daughter in social media photos, as new book reveals she was on watch list and banned from entering Massachusetts but mocked FBI by driving up to state’s border line

  • Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has posted images on social media of herself and their nine-year-old daughter
  • Russell was married to Tamerlan, who along with his brother Dzhokhar planted pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston marathon in April 2013 
  • In another photo the 31-year-old who goes by Karima, poses in a headscarf, suggesting she has not left the Muslim faith after converting to marry Tamerlan
  • Her Facebook account is mentioned in a new book about the bombing by journalist Michele McPhee, who has covered the case in depth for years
  • The book reveals Russell was banned from entering Massachusetts but mocked the FBI agents tailing her by going up to the state border then driving back
  • Russell had been banned from entering Boston before the marathon took place and was on a watch list 
  • However, she wasn’t questioned by FBI counterterrorism officers after the event
  • Russell has kept a low profiled since her husband’s death and was last seen living at an apartment in a run down part of Jersey City, New Jersey
  • The seventh anniversary of the tragedy is Wednesday

Smiling while wearing a pair of Snapchat filter glasses, this is the widow of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev goofing around on social media.

Katherine Russell poses with the nine-year-old daughter she had with the terrorist who was shot dead by police in the April 2013 attack, at the time, the worst on US soil since 9/11.

Russell still wears a veil over her head suggesting she has not left the Muslim faith after converting to the religion when she married Tamerlan a decade ago.

In another photo Russell, who goes by the name Karima, poses in a navy headscarf with a sunglasses filter and looks noticeably slimmer than in the past.

Russell’s Facebook account is mentioned in a new book about the bombing by journalist Michele McPhee, who has covered the case in depth for years.

Mayhem: Unanswered Questions about the Tsarnaev Brothers, the US Government and the Boston Marathon Bombing reveals Russell was banned from entering Massachusetts but mocked the FBI agents tailing her by going up to the state border then driving back.  

Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has posted images on social media of herself and their nine-year-old daughter. Russell still wears a veil over her head suggesting she has not left the Muslim faith after converting to the religion when she married Tamerlan a decade ago

Russell poses with the daughter she had with terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev (pictured) who was shot dead by police in the April 2013 attack, at the time, the worst on US soil since 9/11

In another photo Russell, who goes by the name Karima, poses in a navy headscarf with a sunglasses filter and looks noticeably slimmer than in the past. Russell’s Facebook account is mentioned in a new book about the bombing by journalist Michele McPhee, who has covered the case in depth for years


Russell (pictured left in a mugshot from 2007 and right in her high school year book in 2007) had been banned from entering Boston before the marathon took place and was on a watch list – yet somehow was not questioned by FBI counterterrorism officers after the event. McPhee asks how Russell escaped a trial when the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Orlando Mateen faced justice – and the evidence against her was not as strong 

Russell had been banned from entering Boston before the marathon took place and was on a watch list – yet somehow was not questioned by FBI counterterrorism officers after the event.

McPhee asks how Russell escaped a trial when the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Orlando Mateen faced justice – and the evidence against her was not as strong.

Russell, who is now 31, emerged as one of the most intriguing stories of the Boston bombing, where brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaez planted pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the marathon.

The seventh anniversary of the tragedy is Wednesday. 

Mayhem: Unanswered Questions about the Tsarnaev Brothers, the US Government and the Boston Marathon Bombing reveals Russell was banned from entering Massachusetts

When the bombs exploded, they sent debris through the crowd, injuring hundreds of people and killing three people including eight-year-old Martin Richard.

Tamerlan was killed by police and Dzhokhar, both first generation immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, was put on trial and sentenced to death – he is currently being held in the maximum security Florence ADX prison in Colorado.

The photos of Russell are among the few that are public on her Facebook page.

Her friends include one woman in Grozy, the capital of war-torn Chechnya in Russia, whose profile photo is of a gun pointing toward the camera. 

Under one of Russell’s photos her mother Judith commented: ‘You guys look so smart’ while her father Warren wrote: ‘So cute!’

Another of her photos is a screen grab of the Instagram page for Islamdunyi, which posts daily reminders about Allah.

The recent posts include: ‘And be patient over what they say’. Another reads: ‘The most hated person in the sight of Allah is a quarrelsome person’.

Russell has kept a low profiled since her husband’s death and was last seen living at an apartment in a run down part of Jersey City, New Jersey.


Tamerlan was killed by police and Dzhokhar (pictured left and right), both first generation immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, was put on trial and sentenced to death – he is currently being held in the maximum security Florence ADX prison in Colorado 

Russell, who is now 31, emerged as one of the most intriguing stories of the Boston bombing, where brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaez (pictured together) planted pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the marathon

Her friends include one woman in Grozy, the capital of war-torn Chechnya in Russia, whose profile photo is of a gun pointing toward the camera (pictured)

McPhee writes that Russell met Tamerlan in 2009 when he was dating another woman, Nadine Ascencao, who lived near him in Boston.

Ascencao told police she lost her virginity to Tamerlan, who was a muscular boxer who dreamed of representing the US at the Olympics. Ascencao described how Tamerlan was a ‘fun loving party boy’ who dressed in metallic shoes and designer jackets.

But then he began to change, began to watch jihadi videos and ordered her to convert to Islam.

In August 2009, she was leaving to go to a family barbecue and Tamerlan told her she was dressed too provocatively and slapped her face. She called the police and when they showed up Tamerlan bragged: ‘Yeah I hit her’.

Ascencao did not press charges but the arrest on domestic violence charges would thwart Tamerlan’s plan to box for his adopted country and sent him in a spiral which ended with the bombing.

Russell came from an opposite background, raised by her ER physician father and nurse mother in the middle class Rhode Island town of North Kingston.

Russell was taking classes at Suffolk University when she met Tamerlan. 

McPhee writes that Russell met Tamerlan in 2009 (pictured). Tamerlan, who was a muscular boxer dreamed of representing the US at the Olympics. But those dreams slipped away after his ex-girlfriend had him arrested on domestic violence charges

McPhee writes that Russell’s mother Judy was ‘horrified’ when her daughter began to wear a hijab and study the Koran in 2010. Pictured: Russell the day after the Boston bombing 

McPhee writes that Russell’s mother Judy was ‘horrified’ when her daughter began to wear a hijab and study the Koran in 2010.

Her grades slipped and she dropped out, with her friends becoming scared for Russell because of Tamerlan’s explosive temper.

During her testimony in Dzhokhar’s case, Judy said when she summoned her daughter and Tamerlan to her home for a crisis talk over dinner – they turned up two hours late with no apologies.

Judy said: ‘It really irritated me. It wasn’t a good way to start off. It was hard to get to know him, and he didn’t really seem interested in getting to know us, so it didn’t start off on a really good footing’.

Judy hoped Tamerlan’s womanizing would put her daughter off, but it didn’t.

When Russell announced she was pregnant, it forced the mother and daughter further apart, instead of closer together.  

The same day as the pregnancy bombshell, Russell announced she was going to start covering her head and wearing a burka.

Judy objected and Russell got revenge by not inviting anyone from her family to her wedding in a mosque in Boston in June 2010.

In the days after the bombing, Russell was seen entering and leaving from her parents’ home but she has rarely been seen since then. Pictured: Russell getting ready for an outing with her two-year-old daughter in July 2013

Russell ran Google searches including ‘rewards for the wife of a mujahideen’ in 2013. McPhee says that Russell knew about a grueseome triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2011 where three men had their throats slit. A month before the bombing a now deceased friend of Tamerlan, Ibragim Todashev, told police that they were both involved in the slaughter

McPhee writes: ‘The memory made her voice shake with hurt even six years later’.

That October, Russell gave birth to their daughter named Zahira and Rusell began calling herself Karima.

But because there was no room for the two at Tamerlan’s cramped apartment in Cambridge, Russell moved back in with her parents.

What was supposed to be temporary, turned into 10 months. Frustrations grew when Tamerlan didn’t help pay for anything and Russell’s parents paid for diapers and baby food.

Russell told her parents that Tamerlan’s father was a lawyer but they later found out he ‘bought his law degree’, Judy said.

Tamerlan’s sisters were divorced and had babies of their own and his mother was ‘terrifying’ and still lived in the Cambridge apartment which was ‘decorated with multiple black Islamic flags often associated with jihad’.

It was a poisonous cauldron from which the Tsarnaev brothers would carry out their atrocity.

In the days after the bombing, Russell was seen entering and leaving from her parents’ home but she has rarely been seen since then.

It is not clear why Russell wasn’t prosecuted because McPhee writes that the case against her was strong.

Russell  ran Google searches including ‘rewards for the wife of a mujahideen’ in 2013.

McPhee says that Russell knew about a grueseome triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2011 where three men had their throats slit.

A month before the bombing a now deceased friend of Tamerlan, Ibragim Todashev, told police that they were both involved in the slaughter.

McPhee questions whether somebody close to Russell or Russell herself may have been something similar. She writes: ‘It’s clear that Katherine Russell knew at least as much about her husband’s actions as Salman knew about Omar’s. She wasn’t even called as a witness in the trial, even as her mother was.’ Pictured: The Tsarnaev brothers at a gun range before the attack

McPhee compares Russell’s treatment to that of Noor Salman, the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in 2016 in Orlando, Florida, in a terrorist attack.

During Salman’s trial it emerged that her father-in-law was a ‘confidential human source’ for the FBI and she was acquitted.

McPhee questions whether somebody close to Russell or Russell herself may have been something similar.

She writes: ‘It’s clear that Katherine Russell knew at least as much about her husband’s actions as Salman knew about Omar’s. She wasn’t even called as a witness in the trial, even as her mother was.

‘To this day no one in the US Attorney’s Office will say why. I accidentally found her on Facebook a couple of years ago – after one of her Facebook friends publicly threatened me on the platform – and she is still covered, but slender, living in New Jersey.

‘Multiple sources have since told me that she was prohibited from being anywhere near the Boston Marathon and in fact was told to stay out of Massachusetts entirely.

‘But once in a while, the sources confirm, she would taunt investigators who were tasked with following her by driving along the edge of Massachusetts from Connecticut to Rhode Island, daring them to arrest her. They never have’.

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