UPDATE: New suspects in Boston Marathon bombings case removed backpack containing fireworks from main suspect’s dorm room after bombing: FBI

The Associated Press
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BOSTON —Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested and accused Wednesday of removing a backpack containing hollowed-out fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the attack to keep him from getting into trouble.

In court papers, the FBI said one of them threw the backpack in the garbage — it was later found in a landfill by law enforcement officers — after the young men concluded from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the bombers.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19-year-olds from Kazakhstan, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. Robel Phillipos, 19, who graduated from the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School with Tsarnaev, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev’s room.

The three were not accused of any involvement in the bombing itself. But in a footnote in the court papers outlining the charges, the FBI said that about a month before the bombing, Tsarnaev told Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb.

The lawyers for the Kazakh students said their clients had nothing to do with the bombing and were just as shocked by the crime as everyone else. Phillipos’ attorney, Derege Demissie, said outside court: “The only allegation is he made a misrepresentation.”

At a court appearance in the afternoon, the Kazakh students did not request bail and will be held for another hearing May 14. Phillipos was held for a hearing on Monday.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police days later. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, was captured and lies in a prison hospital.

Investigators have not said whether the pressure cooker bombs used in the attacks were made with gunpowder extracted from fireworks.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev have been held in jail for more than a week on allegations they violated their student visas by not regularly going to class at UMassachusetts. All three men charged Wednesday began attending UMass with Tsarnaev in 2011, according to the FBI.

If convicted, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Authorities allege that on the night of April 18, after the FBI released surveillance-camera photos of the bombing suspects and the three men suspected their friend was one of them, they went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room.

Before Tsarnaev’s roommate let them in, Kadyrbayev showed Tazhayakov a text message from Tsarnaev that read: “I’m about to leave if you need something in my room take it,” according to the FBI. When Tazhayakov learned of the message, “he believed he would never see Tsarnaev alive again,” the FBI said in the affidavit.

It was not clear from the court papers whether authorities believe that was an instruction from Tsarnaev to his friends to destroy evidence.

Once inside Tsarnaev’s room, the men noticed a backpack containing fireworks, which had been opened and emptied of powder, the FBI said.

The FBI said that Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the bombings and decided to remove the backpack from the room “in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble.”

Kadyrbayev also decided to remove Tsarnaev’s laptop “because he did not want Tsarnaev’s roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack,” the FBI said in court papers.

After the three men returned to Kadyrbayev’s and Tazhayakov’s apartment with the backpack and computer, they watched news reports featuring photographs of Tsarnaev.

The FBI affidavit said Kadyrbayev told authorities the three men then “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get into trouble.”

Kadyrbayev said he placed the backpack and fireworks along with trash from the apartment into a large trash bag and threw it into a garbage bin near the men’s apartment.

When the backpack was later found in a landfill last week, inside it was a UMass-Dartmouth homework assignment sheet from a class Tsarnaev was taking, the FBI said.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov lived at an off-campus apartment in New Bedford, about 60 miles 96 kilometres) south of Boston, and got around in a car registered to Kadyrbayev with a souvenir plate that read “Terrorista (hash)1.” The car was pictured on Tsarnaev’s Twitter feed in March.

The plate was a gag gift from some of Kadyrbayev’s friends, meant to invoke his penchant for late-night partying rather than his political sentiments, a lawyer for Kadyrbayev said last week.

Michael McKeown, 20, went to high school with Dzhokjar and Phillipos and served with Phillipos on the Cambridge Kids’ Council.

“He wasn’t a stupid kid,” the Boston University student said of Phillipos. “I’m surprised he would do something this foolish.”

••••

BOSTON — Three men who attended college with the Boston Marathon suspect have been charged in connection with the case.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. A third man, Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements to federal investigators.

An FBI affidavit says the three men removed bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack from his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the bombing.

The affidavit says Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev agreed to get rid of it after concluding from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the bombers.

A court appearance for the three is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

 

 

•••

 

The three new suspects arrested in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings are facing charges of conspiring to obstruct justice and making false statements, according to a tweet from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

•••

Boston — Three more suspects were taken into custody in the Boston Marathon bombing case, including two college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who came to the U.S. from Kazakhstan, officials said Wednesday.

The allegations against them were not immediately disclosed. Gov. Deval Patrick, who said he was briefed on the investigation, told reporters it’s his understanding that the suspects had nothing to do with the bombings but helped the suspect after the fact.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police several days later. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and lies in a hospital prison.

Linda Cristello, a Boston attorney who represented Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev in immigration court Wednesday morning, said her clients now face separate federal charges and have an afternoon court appearance related to the bombing case.

The two have been held in jail for more than a week on allegations that they violated their student visas while attending the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, told reporters gathered outside federal court that the charges are expected to be unsealed Wednesday afternoon when they make their initial appearance before a magistrate judge.

The identity of the third new suspect wasn’t immediately released. A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation but not authorized to talk about it told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity that it was a man.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s relatives will claim his body now that his wife has agreed to release it, an uncle said. Tsarnaev, 26, has been at the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago.

Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev’s body and that she wants it released to his side of the family.

Police said Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition before his 19-year-old brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing the scene. His cause of death has been determined but will not be made public until his remains are claimed.

“Of course, family members will take possession of the body,” uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland said Tuesday night. “We’ll do it. We will do it. A family is a family.”

He would not elaborate. Tsarnaev’s parents are still in Russia, but he has other relatives on his side of the family in the U.S., including Tsarni.

Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor, announced plans last week to travel to the U.S. in the hope of burying his elder son, but he told the AP on Wednesday that those plans are off because he is suffering from bad headaches and high blood pressure. The 46-year-old Tsarnaev said he still hopes to go when he is feeling better.

Dzhokhar was wounded in the shootout with police as he and his brother made their getaway attempt. He is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, a crime that carries a potential death sentence.

Russian agents placed the older suspect under surveillance during a six-month visit to southern Russia last year, then scrambled to find him when he suddenly disappeared after police killed a Canadian jihadist, a security official told the AP.

U.S. law enforcement officials have been trying to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was indoctrinated or trained by militants during his visit to Dagestan, a Caspian Sea province that has become the centre of a simmering Islamic insurgency.

The security official with the Anti-Extremism Center, a federal agency under Russia’s Interior Ministry, confirmed the Russians shared their concerns. He said that Russian agents were watching Tsarnaev, and that they searched for him when he disappeared two days after the July 2012 death of the Canadian man, who had joined the Islamic insurgency in the region. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Security officials suspected ties between Tsarnaev and the Canadian — an ethnic Russian named William Plotnikov — according to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which is known for its independence and investigative reporting and cited an unnamed official with the Anti-Extremism Center, which tracks militants. The newspaper said the men had social networking ties that brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday at a news conference that the U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy “did what it was supposed to be doing” before the Boston Marathon bombing as his top intelligence official began a review into whether sensitive information was adequately shared and whether the U.S. government could have disrupted the attack.

In Rhode Island, DeLuca said Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow met with law enforcement “for many hours over the past week” and will continue co-operating. FBI agents on Monday visited her parents’ North Kingstown, Rhode Island, home, where she has been staying, and carried away several bags.

•••

BOSTON — Three more suspects were taken into custody in the Boston Marathon bombing case, including two college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who came to the U.S. from Kazakhstan, authorities and a defence attorney said Wednesday.

The allegations against them were not immediately disclosed.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line.

Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police several days later. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and lies in a hospital prison.

Linda Cristello, a Boston attorney who represented Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev in immigration court Wednesday morning, confirmed her clients now face separate federal charges and have an afternoon court appearance related to the bombing case.

The two have been held in jail for more than a week on allegations that they violated their student visas while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The identity of the third suspect wasn’t immediately released.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s relatives will claim his body now that his wife has agreed to release it, an uncle said. Tsarnaev, 26, has been at the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago.

Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev’s body and that she wants it released to his side of the family.

Police said Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition before his 19-year-old brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing the scene. His cause of death has been determined but will not be made public until his remains are claimed.

“Of course, family members will take possession of the body,” uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “We’ll do it. We will do it. A family is a family.”

He would not elaborate. Tsarnaev’s parents are still in Russia, but he has other relatives on his side of the family in the U.S., including Tsarni.

Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor, announced plans last week to travel to the U.S. in the hope of burying his elder son, but he told the AP on Wednesday that those plans are off because he is suffering from bad headaches and high blood pressure. The 46-year-old Tsarnaev said he still hopes to go when he is feeling better.

Dzhokhar was wounded in the shootout with police as he and his brother made their getaway attempt. He is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, a crime that carries a potential death sentence.

Russian agents placed the older suspect under surveillance during a six-month visit to southern Russia last year, then scrambled to find him when he suddenly disappeared after police killed a Canadian jihadist, a security official told the AP.

U.S. law enforcement officials have been trying to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was indoctrinated or trained by militants during his visit to Dagestan, a Caspian Sea province that has become the centre of a simmering Islamic insurgency.

The security official with the Anti-Extremism Center, a federal agency under Russia’s Interior Ministry, confirmed the Russians shared their concerns. He said that Russian agents were watching Tsarnaev, and that they searched for him when he disappeared two days after the July 2012 death of the Canadian man, who had joined the Islamic insurgency in the region. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Security officials suspected ties between Tsarnaev and the Canadian — an ethnic Russian named William Plotnikov — according to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which is known for its independence and investigative reporting and cited an unnamed official with the Anti-Extremism Center, which tracks militants. The newspaper said the men had social networking ties that brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday at a news conference that the U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy “did what it was supposed to be doing” before the Boston Marathon bombing as his top intelligence official began a review into whether sensitive information was adequately shared and whether the U.S. government could have disrupted the attack.

“We want to go back and we want to review every step that was taken,” Obama said. “We want to leave no stone unturned. We want to see, is there in fact additional protocols and procedures that could be put in place that would further improve and enhance our ability to detect a potential attack.”

In Rhode Island, DeLuca said Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow met with law enforcement “for many hours over the past week” and will continue co-operating. FBI agents on Monday visited her parents’ North Kingstown, Rhode Island, home, where she has been staying, and carried away several bags.

“Katherine and her family continue to be deeply saddened by the harm that has been caused,” DeLuca said Tuesday.

 

•••

Boston — Three more suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were taken into custody, city police said Wednesday.

The police department made the announcement in a tweet Wednesday morning, saying more details would follow. Police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca confirmed the tweet but referred all other questions to the FBI.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line.

Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police several days later. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and lies in a hospital prison.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s relatives will claim his body now that his wife has agreed to release it, an uncle said. Tsarnaev, 26, has been at the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago.

Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev’s body and that she wants it released to his side of the family.

Police said Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition before his 19-year-old brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing the scene. His cause of death has been determined but will not be made public until his remains are claimed.

“Of course, family members will take possession of the body,” uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “We’ll do it. We will do it. A family is a family.”

He would not elaborate. Tsarnaev’s parents are still in Russia, but he has other relatives on his side of the family in the U.S., including Tsarni.

Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor, announced plans last week to travel to the U.S. in the hope of burying his elder son, but he told the AP on Wednesday that those plans are off because he is suffering from bad headaches and high blood pressure. The 46-year-old Tsarnaev said he still hopes to go when he is feeling better.

Dzhokhar was wounded in the shootout with police as he and his brother made their getaway attempt. He is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, a crime that carries a potential death sentence.

Russian agents placed the older suspect under surveillance during a six-month visit to southern Russia last year, then scrambled to find him when he suddenly disappeared after police killed a Canadian jihadist, a security official told the AP.

U.S. law enforcement officials have been trying to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was indoctrinated or trained by militants during his visit to Dagestan, a Caspian Sea province that has become the centre of a simmering Islamic insurgency.

The security official with the Anti-Extremism Center, a federal agency under Russia’s Interior Ministry, confirmed the Russians shared their concerns. He said that Russian agents were watching Tsarnaev, and that they searched for him when he disappeared two days after the July 2012 death of the Canadian man, who had joined the Islamic insurgency in the region. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Security officials suspected ties between Tsarnaev and the Canadian — an ethnic Russian named William Plotnikov — according to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which is known for its independence and investigative reporting and cited an unnamed official with the Anti-Extremism Center, which tracks militants. The newspaper said the men had social networking ties that brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday at a news conference that the U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy “did what it was supposed to be doing” before the Boston Marathon bombing as his top intelligence official began a review into whether sensitive information was adequately shared and whether the U.S. government could have disrupted the attack.

“We want to go back and we want to review every step that was taken,” Obama said. “We want to leave no stone unturned. We want to see, is there in fact additional protocols and procedures that could be put in place that would further improve and enhance our ability to detect a potential attack.”

In Rhode Island, DeLuca said Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow met with law enforcement “for many hours over the past week” and will continue co-operating. FBI agents on Monday visited her parents’ North Kingstown, Rhode Island, home, where she has been staying, and carried away several bags.

“Katherine and her family continue to be deeply saddened by the harm that has been caused,” DeLuca said Tuesday.

Terrel Harris, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday evening that the state had not yet received Russell’s request to release her husband’s body.

He said arrangements must be made to release the body and once that happens a death certificate will be filed and the cause of death made public. He said it is too soon to speculate on when that might happen.

•••

(Earlier story)

BOSTON —  Boston police say three more suspects have been taken into custody in the marathon bombings.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, the police department says only that three more suspects are in custody and more details will follow. Police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca confirmed the tweet but referred all other questions to the FBI.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the finish line.

Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police several days later. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and lies in a hospital prison.

Both are Russian natives who lived for several years in the U.S. They are accused of using a weapon of mass destruction.

•••

(Breaking news alert)

The Associated Press is reporting that Boston police have three additional suspects taken into custody in marathon bombings.

 Story to follow.

Organizations: The Associated Press

Geographic location: Boston

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