Previously, we brought you reports on the Boston Marathon bombings investigation and details into the lives of the suspects, first in The Lives of the Boston Bombers: What We Do and Don’t Know and then in a follow-up, New Developments in the Boston Marathon Bombings Case.
As the investigation continues two weeks after the bombings, several US officials have been questioning the parents of the suspects overseas. The FBI is also investigating, both in the US and overseas, to determine whether or not the suspects received any training that may have aided in the attack. Authorities have said that, so far, there has been no evidence to indicate that the bombings were linked to any major groups. But they continue to probe for any evidence that might indicate otherwise.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was transferred Friday from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to the Federal Medical Center Devens. This after Tsarnaev was questioned while in the hospital and his first court hearing subsequently was conducted by his bedside, where he was formally charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. (You can download and read the transcript of the hospital court hearing (PDF) and the full Criminal Complaint (PDF) for precise details).
Meanwhile, there are a number of new elements related to the case that we do know or that authorities are said to be examining.
New Details in the Investigation
The mother of the bombing suspects had been overheard by Russia “discussing Jihad” in an intercepted call.
From USA Today:
In early 2011, the Russian FSB internal security service intercepted a conversation between Tamerlan and his mother vaguely discussing jihad, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation with reporters.
The two discussed the possibility of Tamerlan going to Palestine, but he told his mother he didn’t speak the language there, according to the officials, who reviewed the information Russia shared with the U.S.
In a second call, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva spoke with a man in the Caucasus region of Russia who was under FBI investigation. Jacqueline Maguire, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office, where that investigation was based, declined to comment.
There was no information in the conversation that suggested a plot inside the United States, officials said.
She had also been placed on a US watch list in 2011 along with her son Tamerlan.
Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planned to conduct another attack in Times Square in New York City.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings, told investigators that he and his brother decided to bomb Times Square as they talked the night of April 18 in a Mercedes SUV they’d just carjacked, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The store indicated that it scans driver’s licenses as a matter of company policy and checked its database moments after authorities released the names of the suspected bombers.
Two cars have been confirmed to have been used by the suspects in the aftermath of the bombings.
The brothers drove a green Honda (presumed to be Dzhokhar’s 1999 Honda Civic) to the MIT Cambridge campus location where Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed; afterwards, they carjacked a Mercedes 350 SUV and rode in the SUV to Watertown. During the course of that carjacking, the suspects allegedly told the victim they would not kill him because he was not an American.
Authorities have completed their two-day search of a landfill in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
As earlier reported, after receiving a lead from two acquaintances of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (who have since been arrested on an immigration violation), authorities searched a landfill for a laptop allegedly linked to the bombing suspect. Authorities have not commented on whether or not the laptop or any further evidence was retrieved in that search.
New Background Details on the Tsarnaevs
The father’s account of Tamerlan’s trip to Russia to renew his passport now does not entirely pan out with facts discovered since the immediate aftermath of the bombings.
The same NY Times article elaborates:
But American officials say Mr. Tsarnaev arrived in Russia months before his father returned to Dagestan and so did not have the continuous tight supervision described by his father.
Also, Mr. Tsarnaev, with no apparent sense of urgency about his travel documents, waited months to apply for a Russian passport, and returned to the United States before the passport was ready for him.
In my previous post, The Lives of the Boston Bombers: What We Do and Don’t Know, I provided the father’s account of Tamerlan’s intent for the trip to Russia, which now conflicts with what officials have more recently discovered.
The Tsarnaevs’ landlady said that Tamerlan’s radicalization began before his six-month visit to Russia.
According to the NY Times:
“He certainly wasn’t radicalized in Dagestan,” the landlady, Joanna Herlihy, said.
Ms. Herlihy, who speaks Russian and was friends with the Tsarnaevs, said she told law enforcement officials that his trip clearly merited scrutiny. But she said that Mr. Tsarnaev’s embrace of Islam had grown more intense before that.
A mysterious Armenian man with a red beard named “Misha” may have been influential in the radicalization of Tamerlan and his mother’s views.
From ABC News:
The elder brother, Tamerlan, met Misha, possibly at a Boston-area mosque, and the two soon became friends, according to the Associated Press. Misha came to the Tsarnaev house at least once to discuss a brand of Islam that worried some family members, including Tamerlan’s father.
“Somehow, he just took his brain,” Tamerlan’s uncle Ruslan Tsarni told the AP.
Tamerlan’s mother, however, approved of Misha’s views, according to the report.
Tamerlan’s mother maintains that Misha’s views were not extreme, and that their relationship with him was short because he eventually moved to another area of the US.
There is a “Misha” mentioned in the second comment in Tamerlan’s presumed YouTube feed, but it is not known if that has any connection to the same Misha.
The widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Katherine “Katie” Russell Tsarnaev, may have warned her husband after the bombings that authorities were looking for him.
According to those officials, Dzokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators that the information that set in motion the series of events leading to Tamerlan’s death and Dzokhar’s apprehension came in a phone call from Katherine Russell Tsarnaeva to her husband. “She notified him and there certainly didn’t seem to be any notion of surprise – just a report that ‘you’re being watched,’” said one official with knowledge of the investigation. Tsarnaev had seen the photographs and videos distributed by the FBI on television and called her husband to give him a heads up.
(As an aside, it’s recently been reported that, like Tsarnaev’s mother, Russell was once arrested for shoplifting clothing as well).
Katherine Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney says she is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
According to her attorney, Amato DeLuca, “she is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation.” Federal agents are said to want to speak with Russell, but so far have only communicated through her attorney.
Both parents have postponed their trips to the United States.
From the LA Times:
“They are now thinking that I am a terrorist, that is what I have been hearing. So I don’t know how safe it is for me to go down there,” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview in Russia.
“I need guarantees that I will be allowed to see my son, if he is still alive that is. I am thinking about abandoning U.S. citizenship altogether,” she said.
She said her husband, Anzor Tsarnaev, is “very sick” and hospitalized in Moscow, where the couple is now staying after recently leaving their home in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan.
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