Boston Marathon bombers' mother stood defiant in the wake of Dhozkhar Tsarnaev's guilty verdict Wednesday, declaring in a message to a supporter that her convicted mass-murderer son is 'the best of the best.'
The 21-year-old Tsarnaev was found guilty by a Boston jury this morning of all 30 counts - 17 of them carrying the death penalty - in connection to the deadly 2013 attacks.
But the bomber's mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, continued asserting Dzhokhar and his late brother Tamerlan's innocence.
In a text message to her sons' supporter Timur Rudaev, Zubeidat Tsraneav called the convicted killer 'my precious boy' before going on a rant against the US.
'America is the real terrorist and everyone knows that,' she wrote in the text, which was later shared on the Russian social media site VKontakte and sent to the news blog Vocativ.
'My boys are the best of the best,' Mrs Tsarnaev added.
She effusively thanked everyone who have been helping her family over the past two years and vowed to keep them in her thoughts.
'May God reward them for supporting my precious boy,' the mother wrote.
Rudaev, a resident of Grozny, Chechnya, uploaded Mrs Tsrarnaev's text onto a VKontakte group called Help Dzhokhar Tsrarnaev, which he reportedly launched back in 2013.
The Chechnyan national told the blog Vocativ Wednesday that he has raised at least $5,000 for Dzhokhar and his family.
Zubeidat Tsranaev's statement was accompanied by Rudaev’s rambling rant about Dzhokhar’s guilty verdict in Boston.
'Today, foolish Americans completely shattered the life of a great guy! Rudaev wrote in Russian. 'But no trial, no jury could trample our opinions, only the Almighty has power over us! Only the Almighty knows the outcome of this trial... we hope the merciful Allah will give Dzhokar a second chance!'
Rudaev went on saying that he hopes that in the near future, Zubeidat Tsarnaev will gather everyone at her home to celebrate Dzhokar's release.
'Everyone will be ruffling his hair and telling him, 'Brother, you persevered, you put the Americans in their place!'
Zubeidat Tsarnaev has been unwavering in her support for Tamerlan, 26, who was killed in a gun battle with police after the bombings, and his younger brother, who was arrested after being cornered inside a boat in a Boston suburb.
In the days after the attack, Zubeidat accused law enforcement in Boston of framing her sons and described the scene of carnage at the marathon finish line as a 'really big play’ with 'paint instead of blood.'
During a press conference held 10 days after the bombings, the mother was on the verge of hysteria proclaiming she did not accept that her children were responsible for the massacre.
‘America took my kids away from me. I’m sure my kids were not involved in anything,’ she raved.
Mrs Tsarnaev's fighting words stood in sharp contrast to sentiments expressed by survivors and victims' families, who spoke today of closure and hopes for the future.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared unmoved as the guilty verdict was announced in court today. The same jury panel that found him guilty after 12 hours of deliberations will now have to decide whether to sentence Tsarnaev to death or give him life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Families of the victims were also present to hear the verdict but there was no celebration after each 'guilty' was read aloud.
Bombing survivor Jeffrey Bauman, who lost both his legs in the blast and was famously photographed bloodied, being carried to safety by Good Samaritan Carlos Arredondo, released a statement in reaction to the guilty verdict imbued with a sense of wistful hope.
'Today’s verdict will never replace the lives that were lost and so dramatically changed, but it is a relief, and one step closer to closure,' he wrote.
Heather Abbott, who had her left leg severed below the knee near the finish line of the marathon, sounded a similar note in her own statement posted on her non-profit foundation’s Facebook page.
'Nothing can ever replace the lives that were lost or changed forever, but at least there is some relief in knowing that justice is served and responsibility will be taken,' she stated in part.
Survivor Rebekah Gregory, who also lost a leg in the attack, held a press conference after the court hearing, saying she was conflicted on the type of punishment Tsarnaev should face.
‘I don't believe that there will ever be justice brought to this, no matter if he does get the death penalty, or he remains in prison for the rest of his life,’ she told the assembled reporters. ‘I do believe, however, that he should be held accountable for his actions, and I'm very thankful for each of the jury members that are making him do that.’
An emotional yet defiant Ms Gregory concluded by saying: I may be standing on one fake leg, but I'm standing here stronger than ever because someone tried to destroy me, and he failed.’
The family of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, who was shot dead by Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsaranev after the bombings, expressed gratitude to the jurors who convicted their loved one's killer.
‘While today's verdict can never bring Sean back, we are thankful that Tsarnaev will be held accountable for the evil that he brought to so many families,’ they Collier family told Boston.com.
‘Finally, we want to say how much we care for the victims and survivors of this senseless tragedy and their families.
‘The strength and bond that everyone has shown during these last two years proves that if these terrorists thought that they would somehow strike fear in the hearts of people, they monumentally failed. We know Sean would be very proud of that.
MBTA officer Dic Donahue, who was wounded by the Tsraenev siblings, also expressed his thoughts on the outcome of the trial in a three-part tweet.
'First, I want to thank everyone for supporting me and my family over the last two years,’ he wrote after learning the verdict.
'Although we cannot change the past, including the loss of a friend and fellow police officer, justice has been served today.
'We have again shown, as a society, that terrorism will not prevail, and we will hold those accountable for their acts against our nation. God Bless America.
When asked whether the victims got justice today, Liz Norden, whose sons J.P., 35, and Paul, 33, both lost their right legs in the blast, responded: 'Justice for me would be the death penalty.'
Two women, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, and eight-year-old Martin Richard were killed - and 16 others were seriously wounded - when the two homemade pressure-cooker bombs exploded at the marathon in April 2013. More than 250 others also suffered injuries.
A fourth person, MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, was also killed as Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan eluded authorities, sparking a six-day manhunt that brought the city to a standstill.
Watertown police eventually cornered the two men and Tamerlan was killed when his brother hit him in their getaway vehicle. Dzhokhar was later found hiding inside a boat in a nearby backyard.
Twelve of the charges against Tsarnaev were connected to the two bombs placed at the finishing line of the marathon, while three other charges dealt with conspiracy.
A further three counts were for the fatal shooting of Officer Collier, while the remaining 12 counts related to what came after: a carjacking, a robbery and a fiery gun battle with Watertown police.
During closing arguments on Monday, Tsarnaev's lawyers agreed with prosecutors that their client had conspired with his older brother, Tamerlan, to plant and detonate the bombs at the event.
But they contended that his 26-year-old brother had been the driving force behind the bombing. He bought the bomb parts, built the bombs and planned the attack, said defense attorney Judy Clarke.
She added: 'If not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened.'
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died early on April 19 - four days after the attack - when he was run over by his brother during a gunfight with Watertown police.
However, prosecutors said that the younger Tsarnaev had deliberately targeted men, women and children at the marathon to terrorize the US and avenge the deaths of fellow Muslims overseas.
Prosecutors said the ethnic Chechnyan, who immigrated from Russia a decade before the attack, had read and listened to jihadist materials ahead of the murders.
After he was found hiding from police in a boat, it emerged he had written a note inside the vessel suggesting the bombing was an act of retribution for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.
On Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty told the jury that Tsarnaev had intentionally chosen to carry out the 'cold, calculated' attack on a day when the world's attention was on Boston.
'He chose a day when there would be civilians on the sidewalks,' Mr Chakravarty said. 'He and his brother targeted those civilians, men, woman and children, because he wanted to make a point.
'This was a cold, calculated terrorist act. This was intentional. It was bloodthirsty. It was to make a point. It was to tell America that we will not be terrorized by you anymore. We will terrorize you.'
The prosecutor added: 'He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people. That day they felt they were soldiers, they were mujahideen, and they were bringing their battle to Boston.'
Before sending the seven-woman, five-man jury to deliberate on Tsarnaev's guilt on Monday, U.S. District Judge George O'Toole had told the members: 'The judgement is entirely yours.'
Prosecutors had called 92 witnesses over 15 days, including Martin Richard's father, and they presented more than 4,000 hours of surveillance footage.
In Russia, Tsarnaev's father told The Associated Press in recent days that he would have no comment on the outcome of the trial.
By Snejana Farberov
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.