Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged over Boston bombing -- criminal complaint
Former C.I.A. Director R. James Woolsey says political correctness is getting in the way of properly addressing and preventing terrorism, particularly in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. See video
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged over Boston bombing – read the criminal complaint
The Department of Justice on Monday announced charges against Tsarnaev of 'conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons and property in US resulting in death'
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with using ‘weapon of mass destruction’
By Sari Horwitz, Jenna Johnson and Kathy Lally, Published: April 22 | Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2:58 AM
Federal authorities on Monday charged the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings with using a “weapon of mass destruction” against people and property, and the White House rejected demands by some congressional Republicans that he be tried before a military tribunal as an “enemy combatant.”
The Justice Department said Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. It said he is “specifically charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.” The department said in a news release that the bombings resulted in the deaths of three people and injuries to more than 200 others.
If convicted, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty, the statement said. It said he had his initial court appearance Monday from his hospital room, where he is being treated for wounds sustained before his capture Friday evening.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that under U.S. law, American citizens such as Tsarnaev cannot be tried by military commissions.
Carney made the comments after the first victim’s funeral was held in a quiet Boston suburb. The funeral came a week after the bombings reintroduced terror into the lives of ordinary Americans, killing three spectators as they watched the renowned race.
Tsarnaev “will not be treated as an enemy combatant,” Carney said at a White House news briefing. “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions.” He said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.”
Four Republican members of Congress — Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Rep. Peter T. King (N.Y.) — demanded Saturday that Tsarnaev be treated as an “enemy combatant” rather than as a common criminal suspect. That would enable the government to charge him under the laws of war in a military commission or to hold him indefinitely without charges.
But prominent Democrats disagreed Sunday, saying that Tsarnaev should not be treated as an enemy combatant and that he should be prosecuted in federal court. “I do not believe under the military commission law that he is eligible for that. It would be unconstitutional to do that,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Federal authorities plan to brief members of the House on Tuesday on the Boston bombings and ongoing investigation, according to aides to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
Carney also said Monday that President Obama is being updated on the progress of what he described as a “comprehensive investigation” into the bombings. But the press secretary declined to address questions about what, if anything, Tsarnaev may be communicating to investigators, saying he would not “give a play-by-play” of the case.
Earlier Monday, one of the victims, Krystle Campbell, was eulogized by family and friends at a church in her home town of Medford, Mass. Later in the day, a statewide moment of silence, followed by the ringing of bells, commemorated the victims of last Monday’s finish-line blasts.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — a college student from Cambridge, Mass., who is suspected of carrying out the bombing with his older brother — remained under guard at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in critical but stable condition.
The full extent of Tsarnaev’s injuries, and whether he sustained them in a gun battle with police early Friday, remains unclear.
According to an FBI affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, when Tsarnaev was pulled from his hiding place in a covered motorboat Friday night, he had “visible injuries, including apparent gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hand.” Federal and local officials, noting the neck wound, said they do not know whether he will be able to talk again.
Tsarnaev’s brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was killed in the confrontation with police. Authorities are eager to question the younger Tsarnaev about his and his brother’s alleged motives in the bombing.
They also want to find out from him whether any international or domestic terrorist groups were involved. Islamist separatists in the Russian province of Dagestan — where the brothers spent part of their childhoods and where Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited last year — on Sunday denied any connection to the bombing. Boston’s mayor and police commissioner said Sunday that the brothers appear to have acted alone.
According to the criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit unsealed Monday, the brothers placed explosive devices near low metal barriers at two locations about a block apart where hundreds of spectators were watching runners approach the Boston Marathon finish line.
“Each explosion killed at least one person, maimed, burned and wounded scores of others, and damaged public and private property,” the FBI affidavit said. It said the first blast was detonated by the older brother, dubbed “Bomber One.”
Moments before that blast, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, called “Bomber Two,” appeared to use a cellphone and once apparently took a picture with it, the affidavit said. Citing surveillance video, it said the younger Tsarnaev walked away “calmly but rapidly” after the first explosion, leaving his knapsack on the ground where he had been standing.
“Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber Two had placed his knapsack,” the document said.
It described the bombs as “low-grade explosives that were housed in pressure cookers,” which also contained “metallic BBs and nails.”
Close to midnight on Thursday, hours after the FBI released photos and video of the bombing suspects, the brothers carjacked a vehicle at gunpoint in Cambridge, Mass., the affidavit said. It quoted the driver as saying one of the men pointed a gun at him and said, “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.”
“The man removed the magazine from his gun and showed the victim that it had a bullet in it, and then re-inserted the magazine,” the affidavit said. “The man then stated, ‘I am serious,’ ” it said. The victim was forced to drive to another location, where they picked up another man, presumably the gunman’s brother, and put something in the trunk. The carjackers “spoke to each other in a foreign language,” the affidavit said.
After being robbed of $45 in cash and his ATM card, with which the carjackers attempted to withdraw money, the victim managed to escape when the pair got out of the vehicle at a gas station, according to the document.
The Justice Department said the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Weinreb and Aloke Chakravarty of the Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston. From his office next to Boston Harbor, Chakravarty has taken the lead in trying to build better rapport with the area’s Muslims. But he has also come under attack from the local Islamic community for prosecuting several Muslims in terrorism investigations.
In Dagestan, relatives said Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent seven months in the region last year. They said he had become increasingly religious over the past three years but was not a radical.
“He was inquisitive and interested in religion,” Patimat Suleimanova, his aunt, told the Russia RT channel in an interview broadcast Monday, “but he was never a fanatic.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s YouTube account and Internet activity, however, had become militant enough to draw attention from the Russian security services.
Suleimanova said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had planned to visit Makhachkala, the Dagestani city where the brothers’ parents live, in May. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev graduated from Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School in 2011 and was enrolled at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
“They missed their parents,” Suleimanova said in the Russian television interview. “They said, ‘Mother, we love you, we are okay, we only miss you.’ Those children adored their mother and father; they knew that paradise is at the mother’s feet.”
She said Tamerlan visited her often during his days in Dagestan. “Tamerlan was very soft and kind,” she said. “When I hugged him, I felt such warmth.”
Over the weekend, the Tsarnaevs’ father, Anzor, said Tamerlan had visited Dagestan to renew his passport.
Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) told the Interfax news agency that he filed an application in July for a replacement of the domestic passport Russians carry, saying he had lost his in Boston.
He paid a fee and submitted documents for a new one but never picked it up, Gusein Zulpikarov, deputy head of the FMS branch for Dagestan republic, told Interfax. The passport remains in FMS files, he said.
“We have the document at the moment,” he said. “Under the law, such passports are to be kept for three years.”
Federal law enforcement officials said they are trying to learn everything they can about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s six months abroad last year — the places he went and with whom he met. They are also trying to determine how he learned to make bombs and where he might have practiced exploding them.
Also under investigation, law enforcement officials said, is whether Tamerlan traveled abroad under a different name.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asserted Monday that the FBI was unaware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s six-month visit to Russia because his name was misspelled. But there were some questions about whether the FBI’s inquiry ever reached a stage at which his name would have been fed into the master database for terrorist and other watchlists.
“It is clear ... that the FBI followed up on the information that it received about Tamerlan Tsarnaev,” Carney said at Monday’s White House news briefing. “They investigated it thoroughly and did not find terrorist activity, domestic or foreign.”
A team of interrogators from the CIA, FBI and the military is expected to question Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to law enforcement officials and fellow students, he went back to school after the marathon bombings, before the FBI released pictures of the two brothers to the world Thursday and described them as suspects.
Zach Bettencourt, a sophomore at UMass Dartmouth, said Tsarnaev casually discussed the bombing with him one day later. Bettencourt, 20, noticed Tsarnaev sitting on a bench at the gym, listening to his iPod.
When Bettencourt brought up the bombing, he recalled, Tsarnaev responded, “Tragedies like this happen all the time.” He said the two of them then discussed the issue but that he did not remember the exact words of their conversation.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his body bloodied, was discovered by a Watertown, Mass., resident in a boat kept in his back yard Friday evening, minutes after police announced the lifting of a lockdown that had paralyzed the Boston area. The FBI used a bullhorn for about 25 minutes to try to coax him out and then threw flash-bang grenades. A robot lifted the cover on the boat to make sure there were no explosives inside. Tsarnaev was then taken into custody, weak and bleeding.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) said Sunday that officials recovered video that shows the surviving suspect putting his backpack down and moving away from it shortly before it exploded at the Boston Marathon. The video is “pretty clear about his involvement and pretty chilling, frankly,” Patrick said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Boston’s police commissioner said Sunday that federal prosecutors were reviewing information about possible charges against Tsarnaev, and federal law enforcement officials had indicated earlier Sunday that charges might come later in the day. It was unclear why they had not been filed or when they might be.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has agents working to collect and investigate the explosives used in the bombing, is trying to trace the guns the suspects had — at least one handgun and possibly several more. Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas told the Associated Press on Sunday that neither brother had gun permits allowing them to legally carry firearms. Haas said it was unclear whether either brother applied for a permit.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the brothers’ arsenal of weapons and unexploded bombs suggested that they were preparing for other operations. “I personally believe they were,” Davis said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
But Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino downplayed that possibility in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” saying, “I’m not convinced that they were planning more attacks.”
Johnson reported from Boston. Lally reported from Moscow. Will Englund in Moscow and William Branigin, Scott Wilson, Greg Jaffe, Julie Tate and Joel Achenbach in Washington contributed to this report.
Posted 48 minutes ago by Srinivasan Kalyanaraman