The mother of Hussein Abdusamadov, the alleged ringleader behind July's deadly attack on foreign cyclists in Danghara district, says her son was influenced by a cleric who is now on Tajikistan's most wanted list.

Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service says Abdusamadov was born Hussein Nakhudov, a surname, meaning "pea" in Tajik, that family members said he later shed out of embarrassment.  He reportedly spent his early childhood in the village of Selga, in Khatlon province, near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan. His father died in 1988 when he was 3 years old.

By the early 1990s, as the newly independent Tajikistan descended into civil war, he and his mother and two brothers had resettled in Dushanbe, which had more than half a million residents.

From the age of 10, Abdusamadov attended what was known as the Presidential Lyceum, a prestigious boarding school with long-standing ties to the government and high education standards.  After graduation, in 2002, he enrolled in the international relations program at the Tajik State University of Commerce, where he was elected head of the student council.

According to his mother Gulchehra Shodmonova, around that time she noticed Hussein and another son in the company of a local religious man named Nosirkhoja Ubaidov, also known as Qori Nosir.  She blamed Qori Nosir -- who authorities would subsequently allege was a recruiter and agent for radical Islamists -- for influencing her son and convincing him to drop out of university in 2004.

“After he finished his third year at the university, my son told me, 'I want to have a gap year or change the focus of my studies. I'll go to Russia for work,” Shodmonova told RFE/RL's Tajik Service on August 3, in between extended sessions of questioning by Tajik police and security.

But she said it soon became apparent that Abdusamadov was not working in Russia.  “One day he would call me [saying he was calling] from Russia, another time from Dubai, then from Kazakhstan," Shodmonova said.

She told RFE/RL that when she confronted her son about his employment situation, he insisted that he needed to travel.  He would stonewall when she asked where she could visit him, even locally during his periodic visits to Dushanbe.

Shodmonova said she initially had no idea that her son might be involved with extremists, but in April, she  was summoned to the Interior Ministry and told that authorities were seeking her son in connection with information they had received about his activities abroad.

She reportedly saw her son one time after that, she said, and tried to convince him to turn himself in voluntarily.  But she said he refused, saying authorities would simply arrest him.

Although Tajik authorities identified Abdusamadov as the alleged cell leader behind the July 29 killings of the Westerners, the source close to the investigation told RFE/RL that evidence suggested the 45-year-old Qori Nosir had instructed Abdusamadov to carry out a terrorist attack.

Then, apparently by chance, Abdusamadov and the other attackers drove by the cyclists in their remote region of southern Tajikistan -- a potential “soft target” of the kind that the men were hoping for -- according to the source.

Qori Nosir approved the plan to attack the foreigners when Abdusamadov contacted him about the idea on July 28 via the WhatsApp messaging application, the Tajik source alleged.

Qori Nosir reportedly said the attack would guarantee attention from international media.

The group stalked the cyclists for a day before ramming a car into them and attacking them with knives and an ax, the investigative source said.  Four of the tourists -- two Americans, a Swiss, and a Dutchman -- were killed and three others were injured.

Of the five men named as attackers, only Abdusamadov is still alive. He was reportedly arrested early on July 30. Officials said the other four were killed when police or security forces tried to apprehend them.

Government officials have blamed the banned Islamic Renascence Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) for the July 29 killings, ignoring or downplaying possible Islamic State (IS) terror group links.

Tajik authorities have cited a confession by Abdusamadov in which he purportedly acknowledged receiving “ideological and military-sabotage training” in 2014-15 in Iran, where he “joined the IRPT extremist group” and met with Qori Nosir, the local cleric whose association with Abdusamadov was also cited by Abdusamadov's mother.

The IRPT leadership denied what it said were “baseless and irrational allegations” that it was involved, calling the accusations “shameless and illogical slander.”

Qori Nosir's whereabouts are unknown.