Prominent Family of Accused Russian Terrorist Speaks Out

In World

The family of a man accused of carrying out the deadly shooting attack in Dagestan, Russia, on Sunday is going on a repentant apology tour.

A relative of the accused gunman, Osman Omarov, told The Daily Beast that she grew up with him and that she never thought he would carry out such a horrendous act.

“None of us could have imagined that he was capable of such a thing,” the relative, who requested anonymity to share her perspective, told The Daily Beast.

She grew up with Osman and all of his siblings, she told The Daily Beast, adding that they are all good people, even though she and Osman drifted as they grew up.

“All the brothers are good people, I know them from childhood, we communicate closely, they are caring and kind guys,” she told The Daily Beast. “Osman was also like that before, but when [he] grew up, I no longer communicated with Osman.”

“In childhood he was a cheerful guy, he was loved for his positivity, he started any conversation with a smile,” the relative continued. “It’s a shame that a person’s consciousness can change so much at some point. But I don’t know at what point he changed.”

Gunmen attacked Christian and Jewish places of worship in Derbent and Makhachkala in Dagestan on Sunday, slaughtering 21, according to the Dagestan Ministry of Health’s latest tally. The gunmen reportedly slit the throat of a local 66-year-old priest before setting fire to the church.

Five suspects, including Osman, were “liquidated” in the attack, according to Russian officials.

A view of Derbent synagogue following an attack by gunmen and a fire, in Derbent in the region of Dagestan, Russia June 24, 2024

A view of Derbent synagogue following an attack by gunmen and a fire, in Derbent in the region of Dagestan, Russia June 24, 2024

Head of the Dagestan region Sergei Melikov via Telegram/Handout via Reuters

Local authorities have been cracking down on Omarov’s family ever since. Osman’s father, who was most recently a prominent local official, was stripped of his title, fired, detained, and interrogated. The father, Magomed Omarov, who served as the head of Dagestan’s Sergokalinsky district, was also removed as a member from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party, “United Russia,” following the brutal attack.

The authorities rounded up five of Osman’s brothers in recent hours for petty hooliganism as well, the relative told The Daily Beast.

After their hearing, the five brothers gathered to film a video that appeared aimed at distancing themselves from their brother’s act of terrorism.

“We, the Omarov family, deeply mourn what happened. We have always been against terrorism and extremism,” the brothers said.

The relative confirmed the video’s authenticity to The Daily Beast, adding that another relative, who is married to one of the Omarov brothers, filmed the video right after the hearing.

The series of detentions has left the family on edge.

“We are worried that they were detained,” the relative said. “This is the first time our family has encountered such a situation, with detention, so we don’t even know what to think, the unknown makes us nervous.”

Osman’s father, Magomed Omarov, the ex-district heard in Dagestan, is sentenced to an administrative arrest for 10 days, according to URA. He didn’t admit any guilt at his hearing, according to URA.

The attack has raised questions about just how closely connected terrorism is to prominent politicians in Russia, including those in Putin’s party. Omarov’s most recent counterterrorism briefing was in April.

And while top Russian officials have sought to cast blame on the west for the terrorism attack, the State Duma deputy from Dagestan, Sultan Khamzaev, has suggested that Russia look within. Khamzaev suggested that local officials in Dagestan take lie detector tests and answer questions about their proclivities towards extremism, according to NSN. The head of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, who has said that the region will be doing an audit of officials’ personal files, has expressed support for polygraphing officials.

“It is necessary to do everything to counter terrorism and extremism,” Melikov said in a statement.

Read More: Prominent Family of Accused Russian Terrorist Speaks Out

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