Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

Currently: 51° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Suspect in Boston bombings is charged; religious motive seen

Image

Boston Regional Intelligence Center / AP

This image provided by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center shows Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, identified by the FBI as suspect number 2, in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Updated Monday, April 22, 2013 | 5:45 p.m.

Boston One Day After the Capture

Investigators work near the location, on Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Watertown, Mass., where the previous night a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was arrested. Police captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, in a backyard boat after a wild car chase and gun battle earlier in the day left his older brother dead. (AP Photo/Katie Zezima) Launch slideshow »

Boston Manhunt

A crowd gathers at Boston Common after the final suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was arrested, Friday, April 19, 2013, in Boston. Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured in Watertown, Mass. Launch slideshow »

Boston Marathon Explosion

In this Monday, April 15, 2013 photo, Boston Firefighter James Plourde carries an injured girl away from the scene after a bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston. The FBI's investigation into the bombings at the Boston Marathon was in full swing Tuesday, with authorities serving a warrant on a suburban Boston home and appealing for any private video, audio and still images of the blasts that killed at least three and wounded more than 170. Launch slideshow »

BOSTON — 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, U.S. officials said Monday after interrogating and charging Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with crimes that could bring the death penalty.

Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room, where 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 Friday after a fierce gunbattle with police.

The Massachusetts college 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 U.S. for about a decade, practiced Islam.

Two U.S. 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 organizations.

Dzhokhar communicated with his interrogators in writing, precluding the type of back-and-forth exchanges often crucial to establishing key facts, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

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 26.2-mile race.

The FBI said surveillance-camera footage showed Dzhokhar manipulating his cellphone 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 cellphone to detonate one or both of the bombs or whether he was talking to someone.

The criminal complaint shed no light on the motive for the attack.

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 naturalized U.S. citizen, and under U.S. law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Carney said that since 9/11, the federal court system has been used to convict and imprison hundreds of terrorists.

Shortly after the charges were unveiled, Boston-area residents and many of their well-wishers — including President Barack Obama at the White House — observed a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m. — the moment a week earlier when the bombs exploded.

Across Massachusetts, the silence was broken by the tolling of church bells.

"God bless the people of Massachusetts," said Gov. Deval Patrick at a ceremony outside the Statehouse. "Boston Strong."

Also Monday, the governor and Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O'Malley were among the mourners at St. Joseph Church at the first funeral for one of the victims, Krystle Campbell. The 29-year-old restaurant manager had gone to watch a friend finish the race.

"She was always there for people. As long as Krystle was around, you were OK," said Marishi Charles, who attended the Mass. "These were the words her family wanted you to remember."

Amid a swirl of emotions in Boston, there was cause for some celebration: Doctors announced that everyone injured in the blasts who made it to a hospital alive now seems likely to survive.

That includes several people who arrived with legs attached by just a little skin, a 3-year-old boy with a head wound and bleeding on the brain, and a little girl riddled with nails.

"All I feel is joy," said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, referring to his hospital's 31 blast patients. "Whoever came in alive stayed alive."

As of Monday, 51 people remained hospitalized, three of them in critical condition. At least 14 people lost all or part of a limb; three of them lost more than one.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hands when he was captured hiding out in a boat in a backyard in the Boston suburb of Watertown, authorities said.

A probable cause hearing — at which prosecutors will spell out the basics of their case — was set for May 30. According to a clerk's notes of Monday's proceedings in the hospital, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler indicated she was satisfied that Tsarnaev was "alert and able to respond to the charges."

Tsarnaev did not speak during the proceeding, except to answer "no" when he was asked if he could afford his own lawyer, according to the notes. He nodded when asked if he was able to answer some questions and whether he understood his rights as explained to him by the judge.

Federal Public Defender Miriam Conrad, whose office has been assigned to represent Tsarnaev, declined to comment.

Tsarnaev could also face state charges in the slaying of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, who was shot in his cruiser Thursday night on the MIT campus in Cambridge.

News of the criminal charges pleased some of the people gathered at a makeshift memorial along the police barricades on Boylston Street, where the attack took place.

Amy McPate a Massachusetts native now living in Maine, said she usually opposes the death penalty, but thinks it should apply in this case.

"They were more than murderers. They're terrorists. They terrorized the city," she said. "The nation has been terrorized."

Kaitlynn Cates of Everett, who suffered a leg injury in the bombing, said from her hospital room: "He has what's coming to him."

Among the details in the FBI affidavit:

• One of the brothers — it wasn't clear which one — told a carjacking victim during their getaway attempt, "Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that."

• The FBI said it searched Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Sunday and found BBs as well as a white hat and dark jacket that look like those worn by one of the suspected bombers in the surveillance photos the FBI released a few days after the attack.

Associated Press writers Geoff Mulvihill, Meghan Barr and national reporter Allen G. Breed in Boston, and writer Michelle R. Smith in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 1 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Hey, who would've guessed?

    For how many days the the Idiot Media agonize over trying to figure out a motive, when anybody with a brain knew what that motive was.

    Sad that the media is the last to know on the things that are most important.