Boston Bombing Suspects May have Planned NYC ‘Party’
(CNN) — The two suspects in the Boston Marathon terror attack may have planned to travel to New York afterward for a “party,” New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday.
Information collected from the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, “said something about a party or having a party,” Kelly said.
“It may have been words to the effect of coming ‘to party’ in New York.”
Also, the man who was carjacked and held hostage, allegedly by Dzkohkhar and his brother Tamerlan, has told investigators the two young men spoke during the incident in another language which may have been Chechen or Russian. The driver said he thought he may have heard the word “Manhattan” in their conversation, Kelly said.
Dzkohkhar Tsarnaev, 19, was in New York in late 2012, likely in November, Kelly said.
Dzhokhar has told investigators the brothers were self-radicalized jihadists, and indicated that his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, masterminded the bombing, according to a U.S. government source.
The suspects’ uncle said a friend of Tamerlan “brainwashed” him. And the suspects’ former brother-in-law said Tamerlan seemed to be influenced in Islam by a friend named Misha, but that he did not see Misha try to radicalize his Tamerlan.
Investigators had no immediate comment on reports of someone named “Misha.”
Suspects’ parents questioned
Authorities looking into what may have led the brothers to turn the joyous Boston Marathon into a scene of carnage nine days ago sought clues on the other side of the world Wednesday.
U.S. and Russian officials questioned the suspects’ parents in Makhachkala, Dagestan, all day, according to human rights activist Kheda Saratova, who is in Makhachkala. Saratova said the suspects’ mother told her the “conversation” ended Wednesday evening.
The Tsarnaev family lived in the Russian republic of Chechnya but fled the brutal wars there in the 1990s. The two brothers were born in Kyrgyzstan, and moved at different times to the United States with their family. Their parents now live in Dagestan.
A delegation of FBI agents based at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow arrived in Dagestan, in southern Russia, as part of the investigation, and Russia is cooperating, a U.S. administration official said.
The suspects’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, has previously said she’s convinced her boys were framed “just because they were Muslim.”
When asked whether she thinks her younger son will get a fair trial, she replied, “Only Allah will know.”
Zubeidat Tsarnaev faces three felony charges herself for alleged shoplifting and property damage in Massachusetts in 2012, according to Natick District Court. She jumped bail, and there has been an arrest warrant for her since October, the court’s clerk magistrate Brian Kearney said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia last year and returned to the United States after six months. Officials have been looking into what he may have done there during that time.
Tamerlan’s father has said his son was with him throughout the trip.
“We just had a young person who went to Russia, Chechnya, who blew people up in Boston,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday during a trip to Belgium. “So he didn’t (say) where he went, but he learned something where he went, and he came back with a willingness to kill people.”
A senior State Department official later clarified that Kerry “was simply expressing broad concern about radicalism rather than indicating any new information or conclusion about the individuals involved.”
Boylston Street re-opens as slain officer is mourned
Nine days after the terrorist attack on Boylston Street that killed three people and wounded hundreds of others, the city is taking the area back.
Workers replaced missing bricks and patched up concrete Wednesday, just before opening it to pedestrian traffic. Crews were repairing damage cause by the two bombs, which were placed near the marathon’s finish line.
Of the more than 260 people who were hurt in the explosions, 39 remain hospitalized Wednesday, according to a CNN tally. One person is in critical condition.
In Cambridge, mourners gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus to honor Campus Officer Sean Collier, the fourth person killed last week. Authorities believe the Tsarnaev brothers shot Collier as he sat in his patrol car Thursday night.
Suspects received welfare
The Massachusetts government said Wednesday that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received welfare benefits in the past.
“The brothers were not receiving transitional assistance benefits at the time of the incident and have not received any transitional assistance benefits this year,” Massachusetts’ Department of Health and Human Services emphasized.
“The Tsarnaevs’ parents are former recipients of transitional assistance benefits, and both Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev received benefits through their parents when they were younger. Separately, Tamerlan and his family received benefits until 2012, when the family became ineligible based on their income.”
Tamerlan, who died after a shootout with police early Friday, was married and had a young daughter.
Dzhokhar has been answering questions from his hospital bed where he is in fair condition, recovering from gunshot wounds.
He cited the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as motivating factors behind the attack, a U.S. government official said.
Dzhokhar has been charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, as well as one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.
The 19-year-old has been communicating in a limited fashion and told authorities that neither he nor his brother had any contact with terrorist groups overseas, the U.S. government official said. But the official cautioned that the interviews were preliminary and that Tsarnaev’s account needs to be checked out.
Authorities are looking into whether the online English-language magazine Inspire, put out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was used for instruction on how to make the bombs, but another source cautioned that other outlets could have provided that information.
Suspect shopped at fireworks store
More than two months before the marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought two reloadable mortar-style fireworks from a New Hampshire store.
On February 6, he had one question for a store assistant at Phantom Fireworks in Seabrook, New Hampshire: “What’s the biggest and loudest thing you have?”
After that, store Vice President William Weimer said, Tsarnaev shelled out $200 in cash for two “lock and load kits.”
Weimer said such behavior is very common at the store. He said the store notified the FBI after discovering that the marathon bombing suspect had bought explosives there.
Law enforcement officials told CNN earlier Tuesday that the number of fireworks bought at the store was not enough to set off explosions the size of those at the Boston Marathon.
“My assumption is they bought this, experimented with it and decided against it and moved on and found another source,” Weimer said.
Suspects’ relatives ‘devastated’
In a statement issued through their lawyers Tuesday, the suspects’ sisters, Ailina and Bella Tsarnaev, said they were saddened “to see so many innocent people hurt after such a callous act.”
“As a family, we are absolutely devastated by the sense of loss and sorrow this has caused,” they said. “We don’t have any answers but we look forward to a thorough investigation and hope to learn more.”
And Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, issued a statement through her attorney’s office saying she is “doing everything she can to assist with the investigation” and said she and her family are shocked and devastated.
CNN’s MIchael Pearson, Jake Tapper, Julia Talanova, Carol Cratty, Brian Vitagliano, Laura Ly, Deborah Feyerick, Nick Paton Walsh, Julian Cummings, Barbara Starr, Susan Candiotti, Jessica Yellin and Joe Johns contributed to this report.
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