‘Intelligent, sportsman, didn’t pray’: St. Petersburg bomber ‘showed no signs of radicalization’

‘Intelligent, sportsman, didn’t pray’: St. Petersburg bomber ‘showed no signs of radicalization’

Parents, friends, colleagues and neighbors say that St. Petersburg bomber Akbarzhon Dzhalilov showed no signs of radicalization or religious fanaticism, describing him as “average,” “intelligent,” “a sportsman” and someone who “didn’t pray.”

The name of Dzhalilov, a 22-year-old Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen, surfaced in Russian and Kyrgyz media on Tuesday morning, when several outlets started released pictures they claimed to have found on social media. 

The Russian Investigative Committee later confirmed him to be the prime suspect behind the blast. 

The explosion on Monday claimed the lives of at least 14 people, according to the Russian Health Ministry.

According to the media, Dzhalilov was born in Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, in the south of the country. He has a brother who is a student at a school in Osh, and a sister who is married. His father lived in St. Petersburg for quite some time and reportedly has Russian citizenship. 

Dzhalilov didn’t have a Kyrgyz passport, Kyrgyz officials said. He was reportedly a minor when he moved to St. Petersburg with his father.

READ MORE: St. Petersburg Metro bombing: What we know so far

The consul general of Russia in Osh, Roman Svistin, told Sputnik Kyrgyzstan that Dzhalilov received his citizenship back in 2011. The decision was based on a law stating that citizenship can be given to those who have a Russian citizen as a parent. Dzhalilov’s father is currently living in Osh.

No signs of radicalization, say those who have known Dzhalilov since childhood

On Tuesday evening, Dzhalilov’s relatives – who arrived in St. Petersburg – refused to talk to the media. His mother shook her head in an apparent negative answer when asked if she believed her son was involved in the explosion.

Dzhalilov’s former teacher in Osh, Fatima Kadyrakumova, told RT that he “was an average, intelligent and educated boy.”

“He never offended any other students and his parents were never ashamed of his behaviour… He was in good relations with all classmates,” she said, adding that his mother was a housewife.

A former neighbor of Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, Dilorom Yusupjanova, also didn’t notice any signs of extremism in his behavior.

“[He was] a good boy, a good one since childhood. I hadn’t seen him do bad things. I don’t know if he had friends here… Well, we didn’t see anything wrong with him,” she told Ruptly.

Akbarzhon Dzhalilov’s uncle, Imadzhon Dzhalilov, told Kyrgyz media that his nephew wasn’t a religious fanatic. 

Osh district official Anvardjon Dadabaev told RIA Novosti that the Dzhalilov family was “quiet and friendly.” 
“I met his mother…This family is not deeply religious, more secular,” he added.

A colleague who worked with Dzhalilov for three months in 2013 at Sushi WOK, one of the biggest sushi delivery services in Russia, told RT that he hadn’t noticed any suspicious signs about his former co-worker.

READ MORE: St. Petersburg Metro bomber, identified as 22yo Dzhalilov, planted another bomb

“He was a quiet man. He didn’t pray. He didn’t attend a mosque,” the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RT.

Another former colleague of Dzhalilov, Otabek Djuraev, wrote on his page on Russian social network Vkontakte that he was a “normal man.”“I knew him as a sushi cook,” he added. 

One of Dzhalilov’s acquaintances, Salam Hudoerzoda from Tajikistan, told RIA that he also hadn’t noticed any extremist tendencies. Both had attended the same St. Petersburg gym.

“I saw him in the gym a couple of times…Then he disappeared…. Either he left to another place, or ceased to engage in sports in general,” said, adding that he hadn’t heard anyone promoting extremist views at the gym. 

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