Investigators push ahead in Boston bombing probe
BOSTON — With the Boston marathon bombing suspect in a prison hospital, investigators are pushing forward both in the U.S. and abroad to piece together the myriad details of a plot that killed three people and injured more than 260.
FBI agents picked through a landfill near the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where 19-year-old suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was a sophomore. FBI spokesman Jim Martin would not say what investigators were looking for.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials said the mother of the bombing suspects had been added to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the April 15 attack — a disclosure that deepens the mystery around the Tsarnaev family and marks the first time American authorities have acknowledged that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was under investigation before the tragedy.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with joining with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents.
Investigators have said it appears the brothers were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, said the CIA had Zubeidat Tsarnaeva’s name added to the terror database along with that of her son Tamerlan after Russia contacted the agency in 2011 with concerns that the two were religious militants.
About six months earlier, the FBI investigated mother and son, also at Russia’s request, one of the officials said. The FBI found no ties to terrorism. Previously U.S. officials had said only that the FBI investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
In an interview from Russia, Tsarnaeva said Friday that she has never been linked to terrorism.
“It’s all lies and hypocrisy,” she said from Dagestan. “I’m sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I’ve never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism.”
Tsarnaeva faces shoplifting charges in the U.S. over the theft of more than $1,624 worth of women’s clothing from a Lord & Taylor department store in Natick in 2012.
Earlier this week, she said she has been assured by lawyers that she would not be arrested if she traveled to the U.S., but she said she was still deciding whether to go. The suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said that he would leave Russia soon for the United States to visit one son and lay the other to rest.
A team of investigators from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow questioned both parents in Russia this week.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev — college buddies of Dzhohkar Tsarnaev — have been interviewed at length, twice, by FBI agents and have cooperated fully, said Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, a former federal prosecutor.
They were detained April 20 after being questioned in connection with the attacks, but are not suspects, Stahl said. They are being detained at a county jail in Boston for violating their student visas by not regularly attending classes, he said.
The two, both students from Kazakhstan, had nothing to do with the attack and had seen no hints that their friend harbored any violent or terrorist sympathies, Stahl said.