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Boston bomb suspect charged in hospital

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | 4/23/2013 07:31:00 am

THE two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by a
radical brand of Islam, but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups, US officials say.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with crimes that could bring the death penalty. He was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during his attempted getaway.
His older brother, Tamerlan, 26, died on Friday after a fierce gunbattle with police.
The Massachusetts university student was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was accused of joining with his brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.
The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the US for about a decade, practised Islam.
Two US officials said preliminary evidence from the younger man's interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religious extremism, but were apparently not involved with Islamic terrorist organisations.
CNN cited an unnamed US government source as saying that "preliminary interviews with Tsarnaev indicate the two brothers fit the classification of self-radicalised jihadists".
"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wounded and held in a Boston hospital, has said his brother (Tamerlan, 26) ... wanted to defend Islam from attack," CNN quoted the source as saying.
Dzhokhar communicated with his interrogators in writing, precluding the type of back-and-forth exchanges often crucial to establishing key facts, said the officials.
They cautioned that they were still trying to verify what they were told by Tsarnaev and were looking at such things as his telephone and online communications, and his associations with others.
In the criminal complaint outlining the allegations, investigators said Tsarnaev and his brother each placed a knapsack containing a bomb in the crowd near the finish line of the world's most prestigious marathon.
Surveillance footage showed Tsarnaev calmly walking away from the scene after the first bomb was detonated, according to the affidavit.
The FBI said surveillance-camera footage showed Dzhokhar manipulating his mobile phone and lifting it to his ear just instants before the two blasts.
After the first blast, a block away from Dzhokhar, "virtually every head turns to the east ... and stares in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm", the complaint says. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, "virtually alone of the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm".
He then quickly walked away, leaving a knapsack on the ground; about 10 seconds later, a bomb blew up at the spot where he had been standing, the FBI said.
The FBI did not say whether he was using his mobile phone to detonate one or both of the bombs or whether he was talking to someone.
The Obama administration said it had no choice but to prosecute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the federal court system. Some politicians had suggested he be tried as an enemy combatant in front of a military tribunal, where defendants are denied some of the usual constitutional protections.
But Tsarnaev is a naturalised US citizen, and under US law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
A first court hearing was set for May 30.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said on Sunday that the brothers had more homemade explosive devices and appeared to have been planning more attacks.
He said federal authorities were trying to track down how and where the two suspects obtained firearms and explosive devices.
An M-4 assault rifle was recovered in the boat where Dzhokhar was captured, The New York Times reported.
The brothers also apparently used two handguns and a BB gun in the shootout with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Investigators are now probing a six-month trip made by Tamerlan in 2012 to Russia's troubled regions of Dagestan and Chechnya, and whether he was radicalised or trained there.
US senator Lindsey Graham said the FBI and Russian intelligence may have missed warning signs and made basic errors like misspelling Tamerlan Tsarnaev's name, allowing him to travel to Russia undetected.
"I've been told by the FBI that the reason that his name did not pop up in the system was because it was misspelled," Graham said.


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