Boston Bombing Inquiry Turns to Motive and Russian Trip

Boston Bombing Inquiry Turns to Motive and Russian Trip

Bombing Inquiry Turns to Motive and Russian Trip

Eric Thayer for The New York Times
A visitor to a memorial near the Boston Marathon bombings site on Saturday, a day after the younger suspect was captured.
By ERIC SCHMITT, MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and ELLEN BARRY
Published: April 20, 2013 360 Comments
FACEBOOK
TWITTER
GOOGLE+
SAVE
E-MAIL
SHARE
PRINT
SINGLE PAGE
REPRINTS

WASHINGTON — With one suspect dead and the other captured and lying grievously wounded in a hospital, the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings turned on Saturday to questions about the men’s motives, and to the significance of an overseas trip one of them took last year.
Multimedia

An End to the Boston Manhunt

Interactive Map
The Hunt for the Boston Bombing Suspects
VIDEO: Impressions of the Bombing Suspects
INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: Reconstructing the Scene of the Boston Marathon Bombing
The Boston Victims
Related

Suspects With Foot in 2 Worlds, Perhaps Echoing Plots of Past (April 21, 2013)
Legal Questions Riddle Boston Marathon Case (April 21, 2013)
Boston Attacks Turn Spotlight on Troubled Region of Chechnya (April 21, 2013)
Times Topic: Boston Marathon Bombings
Related in Opinion

Op-Ed Contributor: Beslan Meets Columbine (April 20, 2013)
Charles M. Blow: The Mind of a Terror Suspect (April 20, 2013)

Connect With Us on Twitter
Follow @NYTNational for breaking news and headlines.
Twitter List: Reporters and Editors
Enlarge This Image

Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times
A news conference in Boston on Thursday during which images of the two bombing suspects were released to the public.
Readers’ Comments
Share your thoughts.
Post a Comment »
Read All Comments (360) »
Federal investigators are hurrying to review a visit that one of the suspected bombers made to Chechnya and Dagestan, predominantly Muslim republics in the north Caucasus region of Russia. Both have active militant separatist movements. Members of Congress expressed concern about the F.B.I.’s handling of a request from Russia before the trip to examine the man’s possible links to extremist groups in the region.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died early Friday after a shootout with the police in Watertown, Mass., spent six months in Dagestan in 2012, and analysts said that sojourn might have marked a crucial step in his alleged path toward the bombings.

Kevin R. Brock, a former senior F.B.I. and counterterrorism official, said, “It’s a key thread for investigators and the intelligence community to pull on.”

The investigators began scrutinizing the events in the months and years before the fatal attack, as Boston began to feel like itself for the first time in nearly a week.

On Monday, the twin bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded more than 170. The tense days that followed culminated in Friday’s lockdown of the entire region as the police searched for Mr. Tsarnaev’s younger brother from suburban backyards to an Amtrak train bound for New York City.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken into custody Friday night after he was found, bloody and weakened, hiding on a boat in a driveway in Watertown. He was still too wounded to speak on Saturday, said Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Special counterterrorism agents trained in interrogating high-value detainees were waiting to question him, according to a law enforcement official. An issue arose about the administration’s decision to question him for a period without giving him a Miranda warning, under an exception for questions about immediate threats to public safety.

The brothers’ motives are still unclear. Of Chechen heritage, they had lived in the United States for years, according to friends and relatives, and no direct ties have been publicly established with known Chechen terrorist or separatist groups. While Dzhokhar became a naturalized American citizen last year, Tamerlan was still seeking citizenship. Their father, Anzor, said Tamerlan had made last year’s trip to renew his Russian passport.

The significance of the trip was magnified late Friday when the F.B.I. disclosed in a statement that in 2011 “a foreign government” — now acknowledged by officials to be Russia — asked for information about Tamerlan. The request was “based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

The senior law enforcement official said the Russians feared he could be a risk, and “they had something on him and were concerned about him, and him traveling to their region.” Chechen extremists pose a greater threat to Russia than they do to the United States, counterterrorism specialists say, though some of the groups have had ties to Al Qaeda.

But the F.B.I. never followed up on Tamerlan once he returned, a senior law enforcement official acknowledged on Saturday, adding that its investigation did not turn up anything and it did not have the legal authority to keep tabs on him. Investigators are now scrambling to review that trip, and learn about any extremists who might have influenced, trained or directed Tamerlan while he was there.

President Obama and Republican lawmakers devoted their weekly broadcast addresses to the Boston attack, with both sides finding a common voice. Mr. Obama also met with his national security team for an update on the investigation.

“Americans refuse to be terrorized,” Mr. Obama said. “Ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember from this week.”

Since 1994, Russia and the United States have routinely exchanged requests for background information on residents traveling between the two countries on visa, criminal or terrorism issues.

1 2 NEXT PAGE »
Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Ellen Barry from Moscow. Reporting was contributed by John Schwartz and Julia Preston from New York; Andrew Roth and David M. Herszenhorn from Makhachkala, Dagestan; Peter Baker from Washington; and C. J. Chivers from the United States.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 20, 2013

An earlier version of this article misidentified the office held by Tim Scott of South Carolina. He is a senator, not a representative.

A version of this articl

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s