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Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs



BOSTON (AP) -- A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

A hand-scrawled confession condemning U.S. actions in Muslim countries was found on the inside wall of the boat where Tsarnaev was captured four frantic days later.

A year after twin pressure cooker bombs shattered the marathon and paralyzed the area for days, federal prosecutors say they have a trove of evidence ready to use against the surviving suspect, but many questions remain.

What roles did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, play in planning and orchestrating the attack? Would they really have launched a second attack in New York? Did federal authorities underreact to a warning from Russia that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was becoming radicalized?

With Tamerlan Tsarnaev killed in a police shootout days after the attack, some of those questions may never be fully answered.

"The obvious one is the motivation and how could two young men who were in a country that, from all appearances, was very good to them end up this radical," said former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who helped lead the investigation.

The bombings last April 15 killed three people and injured more than 260 near the finish line of one of the world's most famous marathons. At least 16 people lost limbs.

Dzhokhar has pleaded not guilty to a 30-count federal indictment that carries the possibility of the death penalty.

The brothers, ethnic Chechens who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia, settled in Cambridge, outside Boston, after moving to the U.S. as children with their family more than a decade ago.

Dzhokhar's defense team, which includes two of the nation's top anti-death penalty lawyers, appear to be building a case that Tamerlan, 26, was the driving force behind the bombings. In court documents, they've focused on Dzhokhar's young age - 19 at the time of the bombings - and the influence his older brother had on him.

A congressional report released last month said U.S. intelligence agencies missed a chance to detain Tamerlan when he returned from a trip to Dagestan in July 2012.

Russian authorities had warned the FBI in 2011 about Tsarnaev becoming radicalized. The FBI investigated, and his name was added to a terrorism watch list. But he was still able to fly to Dagestan - an area that has become the center of an Islamic insurgency - spend six months there, and return to the United States.

"There was not sufficient weight put on the information we got from Russia," said U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

A separate report found that Russia was unresponsive when pressed by the FBI for more details.

Three days after the bombings, the FBI released photos of the Tsarnaevs from surveillance video near the bombing sites. Hours later, authorities say, the brothers shot and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer in an attempt to steal his gun, then carjacked a Cambridge man.

"`Where's your money?'" carjacking victim Danny Meng said Tamerlan Tsarnaev demanded of him after jumping into his car and showing him a gun.

What Meng thought would be a quick robbery became more terrifying when the man asked him whether he knew about the marathon bombings.

"He said, `Do you know who did that? I did that.'"

Meng said Tamerlan asked him, "Can your car drive out of state, like to New York?"

A week later, former New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators from his hospital bed that he and his brother decided that night to drive to New York City and launch a second attack.

Meng escaped by running when the Tsarnaevs stopped at a gas station. Authorities said the brothers drove to nearby Watertown, where a wild gun battle with police erupted on a quiet side street, with the brothers shooting at officers and throwing three pipe bombs and one pressure cooker bomb.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed, but Dzhokhar escaped on foot, leading to an unprecedented lockdown of Greater Boston. Dzhokhar, wounded from gunfire, was found later that day hiding in a dry-docked boat in a backyard.

Authorities said Dzhokhar wrote in pen on the inside wall of the boat explaining that the bombing was meant to punish America for its actions overseas.

"The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians," authorities say he wrote, and "Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."

A federal grand jury continued to investigate months after Dzhokhar was arrested.

The parents and sisters of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell, were called to testify. Russell has a 3-year-old daughter with Tsarnaev.

Russell's lawyer, Amato DeLuca, said that she did not suspect her husband of anything and that nothing seemed amiss in the days after the bombing. He said Russell was told last year she was not a target of the investigation.

"It really saddens me to think the people, obviously innocent victims, are going to carry the wounds from this craziness the rest of their life," DeLuca said. "That includes Katie and her daughter."

People who knew Dzhokhar say they still struggle to reconcile the seemingly Americanized young man they knew with the one accused of planting the bomb that killed Martin Richard, 8, and Lu Lingzi, 23, a Boston University graduate student from China. The first bomb, allegedly planted by Tamerlan, killed Krystle Campbell, 29.

Luis Vasquez, who helped coach Dzhokhar's soccer team in high school, said both brothers appeared to be good people when he knew them. The death penalty, he said, would be the easy way out.

"That event should eat at him," Vasquez said. "If we kill him, he will take those answers with him."

Join the discussion

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kwikrdrvr April 14 2014 at 2:43 PM

Why does our government ignore warnings of inpending attacks. This has happened for as long as I can remember, going back to WW II when they were warned about the Japanese air attack, all the way to the signs for the 9/11/2001 attack, to the Benghazi embassy attack. Are our govenment security personnel that inept?

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Tom April 14 2014 at 3:33 PM

ANOTHER QUESTION....why these two pervertjerks received $80,000 of taxpayers money from
social services and welfare then, injured hard working Americans.

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lking4funsoca April 14 2014 at 3:20 PM

We are so niave or at least many of us. Other cultures dont care who won dancing with the stars or what opera has to say. Many are live and let live but one is not. That is those who follow the Koran and their sole aim in life is to convert you or kill you. Just like with us not everone in their religion carries out these bombings but then not everyone in our country serves in the military. Not all Germans were Nazis but at the end of the day had to take them all down. Hope it doesnt come to that again but would be helpful if the politically correct among us understand musliums of the world hate the west and western ways.

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2 replies
catrn7 lking4funsoca April 14 2014 at 4:05 PM

THEIR Countries propagate their Religion ....lets face it, Religion is the Opiate of the People, its economic ...that's why , WE THE PEOPLE, .....We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America....
THATS WHY ALTHOUGH ...UNDER GOD....BECAUSE THE MEN/CRAFTERS WERE INSPIRED BY THEIR GOD, THEY WERE INSPIRED BY GOD TO CREATE A SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, TO KEEP PEOPLE FREE. THE MUSLIMS AND NAZIS WERE NOT FREE ....THEY WERE/ARE NOT ALLOWED TO REJECT THE RELIGION /PHILOSPHY THAT THEY ARE/ WERE BRAINWASHED WITH....THEY DONT LITERALLY THINK ANYTHING WRONG, THAT QUESTION WOULD NOT EVEN OCCUR TO SUCH A BRAIN, AS THEY FEEL THEY ARE ACTING... RIGHT.

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catrn7 lking4funsoca April 14 2014 at 4:06 PM

SEPARATION

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Theresa April 14 2014 at 3:26 PM

these men are not children. I believe that they are conscious of what they did. If they are found guilty in a court of law in the seat of the birth place of this nation? As men they must face the consequences of their actions! Trial by jury is a central part of our system of law. This is a crime of malice aforethought. Those bombs were meant to kill. Terrydould

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obloodyblada April 14 2014 at 3:13 PM

"The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians," authorities say he wrote, and "Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."

The kid is from Kyrgyzstan. The US wasn't and never did kill innocent civilians from Kyrgyzstan.

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aajarm April 14 2014 at 3:13 PM

We have to ignore knowledge we have, otherwise we will have ACLU and every other whack group up in arms. These are votes people and God forbid we insult something like a MUSCUM

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rboltpro April 14 2014 at 3:37 PM

Bunch of low life cowards......

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sindfetish April 14 2014 at 3:45 PM

"The obvious one is the motivation and how could two young men who were in a country that, from all appearances, was very good to them end up this radical," THIS says so much. America is awesome...we rock, we understand, we help....we DO have problems. But still....no other place on EARTH do people do what they do to get here.

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1 reply
sindfetish sindfetish April 14 2014 at 3:47 PM

It's OK Americans....STAND UP for your country.

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1 reply
rgkarasiewicz sindfetish April 14 2014 at 4:08 PM

Whose country?

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speedo April 14 2014 at 3:03 PM

the following seems to be 'normal ops' in this country... we have all seen this same mentality exposed after major tragedys that were prefentalble had the usa bureaus done their JOB...

"There was not sufficient weight put on the information we got from Russia," said U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

where are the reprocussions to those derelict in their responsibility to us... usa citizens. if officials were made to be held criminal and prosecuted, we would see a lot less of this kind of malpractice and malfeasance of office. thats not likely untill some of these beaurucrats have THEIR FAMILIES victimized... so tragic.. so preventable.

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1 reply
jdsept speedo April 14 2014 at 3:48 PM

One does NOT catch everything. So much info is gathered and what is what is not so easy. Everybody is always so good at picking up the flaws AFTER the event has happened. Its kind of like complaining about a pitch the pitcher has thrown after the batter hit a homerun. YOU think bureaucrats (learn to spell it or use spell-check) didn't die in the OK City Fed building bombing? Who was in there? Wal-Mart?

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Turillo April 14 2014 at 3:46 PM

I have found the ennemy and ...it is us. The FBI and CIA should be dismantled based on their usellesseness. They are abunch of arrogant morons who want everything served on a silver plate. As it was not enough that Russia gave them a warning, they wanted more information ? morons

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1 reply
Vimala Nowlis Turillo April 14 2014 at 3:58 PM

I too have found the enemy and ... it is idiots like you.

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