The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was treated for wounds from police gunfire as the FBI acknowledged it was alerted two years ago to concerns his older brother was turning to Islamist extremism.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev, captured hiding in a boat Friday evening in Watertown, Massachusetts, was being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, authorities said. His brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the other suspect, was killed as they both tried to escape the dragnet early Friday morning.
The older brother had been brought to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation two years ago by a foreign government concerned he held extremist Islamist beliefs, the agency said in a statement. A law enforcement official identified the foreign government as Russia. The FBI said it found no evidence of terrorist activity at the time.
The new FBI-led probe is paying close attention to a six-month trip Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an immigrant of Chechen descent, took shortly afterward to Chechnya and neighboring Dagestan, both regions of Russia that have been embroiled in Islamist separatist movements.
Investigators plan to use a legal exception to question the younger brother without advising him of his constitutional rights to remain silent and secure an attorney.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told reporters at Fenway Park yesterday that Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s condition was “serious but stable” and that he was “not able to communicate.”
Dzhokar Tsarnaev suffered significant loss of blood before he was taken into custody after an almost 24-hour manhunt that shut down Boston and surrounding cities, a federal law enforcement official said.
The Tsarnaev brothers are accused of an attack that transformed America’s most storied road-running race into a tableau of mayhem and confusion, planting two bombs that exploded about 10 seconds apart near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
With the manhunt for the bombers ended, the first Red Sox home game since attack served as rallying point for the city yesterday.
The governor and a phalanx of uniformed law enforcement officers were introduced on the field before the baseball game. During a break, singer Neil Diamond crooned his signature Sox anthem, “Sweet Caroline.” Players wore jerseys imprinted with “Boston” instead of the team’s name, with plans to auction the uniforms later to raise money for bombing victims.
The request to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 advised that he “was a follower of radical Islam” and had “changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared” for his trip to Russia, raising fears he planned “to join unspecified underground groups,” the FBI said on its website.
“The FBI checked U.S. government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history,” according to the statement. “The FBI also interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members. The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011.”
U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said April 19 on CNN that information that Tsarnaev had been interviewed by the FBI in the past was disturbing.
“If he was on the radar and they let him out of their sights, then that’s an issue, certainly, for me,” McCaul said.
Requests from foreign governments to look into individuals are a normal part of the international relationships the bureau maintains, a federal law enforcement official said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a legal resident of the U.S., flew to Russia in January 2012 and returned in July, said two law enforcement officials briefed on his travel.
The FBI never followed up on the older brother’s activities after his trip abroad because it closed its inquiry in 2011, the law enforcement official said.
The older brother was under FBI surveillance for at least three years, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the suspects’ mother, said in a phone interview with the Russian state television broadcaster RT from Makhachkala, in the southern Russian region of Dagestan.
Authorities believe the two bombing suspects were acting alone and so far haven’t found connections to any groups or other suspects, said a person briefed on the investigation who asked not to be identified because it is a continuing probe.
Federal charges will be filed against Tsarnaev “in the coming days,” Christina Sterling, a spokeswoman for Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said April 19.
At the Obama administration’s direction, police weren’t reading Tsarnaev the Miranda warning that gives suspects a chance to consult a lawyer before answering questions, according to a Justice Department official. The administration is invoking a public-safety exception that allows limited questioning before those rights are conferred.
Federal Public Defender Miriam Conrad, whose office provides indigent criminal defense for individuals charged with federal crimes in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, said that her office will represent Dzhokar Tsarnaev once charges are filed.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev was captured after a manhunt that had much of the Boston area in lockdown on April 19. He was found hiding in a boat stored behind a Watertown home. He had escaped during a gun battle the previous night with police in the same Boston suburb, during which more than 200 rounds of ammunition were fired and the suspects hurled explosive devices at police.
During confrontations with the brothers that first erupted after 10:30 p.m. on April 18, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer was killed and a transit police officer seriously wounded. In the first showdown with police in Watertown, the older Tsarnaev stepped out of their stolen car and was shot, according to one official. With Tamerlan Tsarnaev wounded and on the ground, Dzhokar Tsarnaev moved to escape the scene. He ran over his brother with the car in the process, the official said.
The dead brother had explosives strapped to his body when killed, according to two federal law enforcement officials. That increased concerns about the type of weaponry the younger Tsarnaev might be carrying.
Authorities have begun exploring the backgrounds of the suspects who, according to the uncle in Maryland, immigrated to the U.S. in 2003.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan, and brother Tamerlan was born in Russia, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter. The brothers are ethnic Chechens, said their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The younger brother became a naturalized U.S. citizen on Sept. 11, 2012, according to an official briefed on the matter who asked not to be identified because the probe is in progress.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a legal permanent U.S. resident, was arrested in 2009 on an assault and battery charge and wasn’t convicted, according to Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County, Massachusetts, district attorney.
A profile attributed to Dzhokar Tsarnaev on the Russian social networking site V kontakte lists “career and money” as his personal priority and Islam as his world view.
A video posted April 9 on his page called “For those who have a heart” is about the Syrian civil war.
“They’re killing your brothers and sisters without any reason, just because they say ‘our god is Allah’ and ‘Mohammed is our prophet,” it says, asking people to help the Syrians.
The Tsarnaev brothers and their two sisters moved to the Dagestan region of Russia in October 2001 from the central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan as refugees, and left for the U.S in March 2002, said Emirmagomed Davudov, director of Gimnasium Number 1 in Dagestan, where Tamerlan went to the seventh grade and Dzhokar to first grade.
The parents first received asylum and then filed for the children, who were given “derivative asylum status” and didn’t come through the refugee admissions program, though the legal standard is essentially the same, said a State Department official who asked not to be identified to discuss the case.
Even after the brothers were captured, some Boston-area residents were still rattled by the violence. Steven Mey of Watertown decided to buy a gun to protect himself.
“I felt totally inadequate,” said the 50-year-old computer repairman, who lives with his wife, two teenage children and mother-in-law. “All I had was a baseball bat.”
“He could have been hiding in my shed in the back,” Mey said as he requested a firearms application at the Watertown Police Department. “What could I do?”