After the manhunt, police focus on Boston Marathon bombing motives
Published Saturday, April 20, 2013 9:04AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 20, 2013 10:56PM EDT
With one Boston Marathon bombing suspect dead and the other under heavy guard in hospital with serious injuries, U.S. authorities are now trying to determine the motive behind the deadly attacks.
Police have not yet been able to question 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in serious condition after his dramatic arrest in a Boston suburb Friday night. It wasn’t immediately clear when he would face formal charges.
His older brother, second bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in an intense standoff with police early Friday morning.
But investigators already have some insights into the Chechen brothers’ pasts.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was questioned by the FBI in 2011, after the Russian intelligence security service flagged him as a follower of radical Islam, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
In a statement late Friday, the FBI said “a foreign government” had asked for information about Tamerlan, who was said to have “changed drastically” since 2010. The FBI was told that Tamerlan was preparing to join “unspecified underground groups” in Russia.
The bureau said it interviewed Tamerlan and his relatives but found nothing linking him to domestic or foreign terrorist activities. The FBI said it requested more information from the foreign government, but did not hear back.
Tamerlan did, however, travel to Dagestan, a semi-autonomous Russian province known for outbreaks of Islamic insurgency, in 2012. Investigators are now looking into details of his trip to see if he was in contact with any extremist groups.
"There are still many unanswered questions," U.S. President Barack Obama said late Friday night after one of the biggest manhunts in American history ended with Tsarnaev’s arrest.
"Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help? The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers," Obama said.
The Tsarnaev brothers emigrated to the U.S. from a region near Chechnya roughly a decade ago. They settled in Massachusetts, went to school and pursued sports. Tamerlan was a promising amateur boxer while Dzhokhar excelled in wrestling.
Tamerlan was a legal permanent resident of the U.S., while his younger brother was a naturalized citizen.
But some family members have suggested that Tamerlan did not quite find his place in America.
One of their uncles, Ruslan Tsarni, told The Associated Press that he believed Dzhokhar was negatively influenced by Tamerlan.
"He's been absolutely wasted by his older brother. I mean, he used him.” Tsarni said.
The uncle said there was a rift in the family, and his efforts to maintain a relationship with his nephews fell apart when Tamerlan began to change.
Tamerlan “started carrying all this nonsense associated with religion, with Islamic religion,” Tsarni said.
He said he once asked his nephew why he wasn’t attending school and Tamerlan replied: “Oh, I’m in God’s business.”
The suspects' parents, who live in Dagestan, have insisted in interviews that their sons were framed for the twin Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 180.
Their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said Friday there is “no way” her sons were involved in placing pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon finish line on Monday.
Police also allege the brothers shot and killed a campus officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Thursday night, before setting off the police pursuitfor the younger sibling that lasted nearly 24 hours.
Once Tsarnaev, who is being treated for gunshot wounds to the neck and leg, is in better condition, a special interrogation team will question him.
It is expected that investigators will revoke his Miranda rights, which allow crime suspects to remain silent and obtain a lawyer.
Under U.S. law, Miranda rights can be revoked if a suspect is deemed to pose a continuing threat to public safety. In this case, it’s believed authorities want to make sure there are no unexploded bombs left somewhere.
With files from The Canadian Press