Boston Bombing Investigation: Thursday's Developments
The latest developments in the investigation into the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon and related news include:
Update at 2 p.m. ET. FBI Says Suspects Planned Explosions In Times Square, New York Mayor Bloomberg Says:
The FBI believes that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who authorities say were behind the Boston bombings, wanted to travel to New York City last Friday and detonate more explosives in Times Square, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just told reporters. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly added that, under questioning, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told investigators of the plan. Their alleged plan was foiled, Kelly said, when the SUV they had carjacked ran low on fuel and they had to stop for gas. When the driver they had taken hostage escaped, that alerted authorities to the suspects' whereabouts and lead to the gun battle and subsequent search in Watertown, Mass., that ended with Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar in custody.
The ccomments from Bloomberg and Kelly follow reports Wednesday that the victim of the carjacking had told authorities the suspects wanted to go to New York City.
Update at 1:45 p.m. ET. Report: Russian Officials Said Tamerlan Tsarnaev Had No Known Contact With Terrorist Groups.
"Russia has informed the United States that it knew of no contact between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and any known terrorist groups during his six-month trip to Dagestan in 2012, according to an official who attended a closed-door Senate briefing Thursday morning by top counterterrorism officials." (The Boston Globe)
-- Update at 10 a.m. ET. There's Nothing Wrong With Misha, The Man Authorities Want To Speak To, Suspects' Mother Says. She Also Wonders If Bombings Were A Hoax:
He's "very nice ... very intelligent" and there's "nothing wrong" with a man known as Misha who allegedly encouraged her older son to embrace radical Islam, Zubeidat Tsarnaev says during an interview CNN is broadcasting. She's the mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young men authorities say were behind the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 200 and who then allegedly killed an MIT police officer and wounded a Boston transit officer.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died from injuries he received during a gun battle with police last Friday. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in a Boston hospital. He faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction in the bombings.
Zubeidat Tsarnaev goes on to tell CNN that she still believes her sons are innocent. "I really feel there is something wrong," she says of the accounts of what authorities say her sons did. She also tells CNN she isn't sure the bombings actually happened.
As we reported earlier, sources tell NPR's Dina Temple-Raston that the FBI is anxious to find and speak with Misha.
The day's early headlines and news:
-- Looking For "Misha": Relatives of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old suspect who died Friday after a gun battle with police, have told news outlets that they think he may have been "brainwashed" into embracing radical Islam by an Armenian man named Misha, as CNN reports.
On Morning Edition, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston said Tsarnaev's mother, who is in Dagestan, has led U.S. investigators to believe that while she encouraged her son to practice Islam, "she wanted it to be a positive thing." Officials familiar with what she has told investigators report that the mother says "she had no idea there was another layer to his beliefs," Dina added.
So, the FBI is looking for the friend, Dina reported.
American and Russian officials have been interviewing Tsarnaev's parents in Dagestan. There are reports that the father, at least, may soon come to the U.S. Both parents have told news outlets they do not believe their sons (the surviving suspect is Tamerlan's 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar) were responsible for the bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 200, or for the murder of an MIT police officer last Thursday.
-- Russia Also Asked The CIA About Tamerlan Tsarnaev: As we reported Wednesday, word has emerged that the CIA asked in 2011 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's name be added to a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE.
The New York Times adds that "despite being told in 2011 that an FBI review had found that a man who went on to become one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings had no ties to extremists, the Russian government asked the Central Intelligence Agency six months later for whatever information it had on him, American officials said Wednesday. After its review, the CIA also told the Russian intelligence service that it had no suspicious information on the man, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. ... It is not clear what prompted the Russians to make the request."
OnMorning Edition, Dina reported that sources say investigators conducted three interviews at the time (with Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his parents) and a "massive database search." They found no evidence he had done anything illegal, officials have told her.
The Tsarnaev family's roots are in Chechnya. The parents moved to the U.S. with their children a decade or so ago. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a legal resident with a green card. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen in 2012.
-- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Reportedly Stopped Giving Information After Miranda Warning Is Read: According to The Associated Press, "16 hours after investigators began interrogating him, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings went silent: he'd just been read his constitutional rights." Sources have told Dina the same thing.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who reportedly had been communicating mostly through written notes because his injuries make talking difficult or nearly impossible, "immediately stopped [cooperating] after a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney's office entered his hospital room and gave him his Miranda warning, according to four officials of both political parties briefed on the interrogation. They insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private."
The wire service also says that "before being advised of his rights, the 19-year-old suspect told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently had recruited him to be part of the attack that detonated pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line, two U.S. officials said."
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains in a Boston hospital. As of Wednesday, he was said to be in fair condition.
Related posts and a note:
-- WBUR's coverage of the marathon bombings and their aftermath is collected here.
-- Our previous posts are here.
--Note: As happens when stories such as this are developing, there will likely be reports that turn out to be mistaken. We will focus on news being reported by NPR, other news outlets with expertise, and statements from authorities who are in a position to know what's going on. And if some of that information turns out to be wrong, we'll update.
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