FBI steps up inquiries into brother's trip to Dagestan

U.S. waits to question Boston bomb suspect

AFP-JIJI

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remained in serious condition in hospital Saturday, unable to answer questions about the devastating attack on last week’s Boston Marathon, officials said.

Investigators released stunning images of Tsarnaev’s final moments of freedom, slumbering wounded in a boat in a suburban backyard. They are also stepping up inquiries into a trip to Muslim regions of Russia taken by Tamerlan, his accomplice brother.

The 19-year-old is “serious but stable,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. “I think not able to communicate yet.”

CNN and other media said he had suffered a throat wound during his flight, which ended late Friday after a massive manhunt in which 26-year-old Tamerlan was killed.

The siblings are the main suspects in the double bomb attack on the marathon that killed three people and injured about 180. A policeman was killed and another was left fighting for his life after gunbattles during the hunt.

Patrick said he hopes the teenager survives. “We have a million questions and those questions need to be answered,” he added.

Tsarnaev was under armed guard at a hospital where some victims of the bombings are also being treated. Counterterrorism agents trained in interrogating “high-value” detainees are waiting to question him, a law official said.

Prosecutors are also at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Cambridge, just outside Boston, working out charges.

Media reports say authorities did not read Tsarnaev his normal rights to see a lawyer when he was captured, invoking a special exception for security reasons. That has left authorities facing tough decisions over how to handle the investigation and any trial.

The Tsarnaev family are ethnic Chechens who moved to the U.S. from the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan around 2002. Media reports say Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a fervent Muslim in recent years. Much focus is now being put on a six-month trip he paid to the Russian region of Dagestan last year.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during telephone talks Saturday to step up cooperation against terrorism, particularly after the Boston case, the Kremlin and White House said.

The FBI acknowledged Friday that an unnamed foreign government, reportedly Russia, asked for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011. The FBI interviewed the man but said it had found no “derogatory” information.

The men’s social media pages appeared to express sympathy with the struggle in Chechnya, which has been ravaged by war since 1994 between Russia and Islamist-leaning separatist rebels.

The teenager, who only became a U.S. citizen last year, was caught after a man saw blood on a boat he kept in his backyard in Watertown, in the suburbs of Boston. He lifted the cover and saw the teenager curled up inside amid more blood, police said.

The University of Massachusetts student was surrounded for a showdown that included a final gunbattle before Tsarnaev gave himself up to FBI agents.

Thermal images taken by a police helicopter overhead showed Tsarnaev slumbering in the covered boat. They also showed a robotic arm reaching to lift the cover so cameras could look inside.

Police say the brothers killed one officer as they fled, hurling home-made bombs at their pursuers. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in one gunbattle. His brother was also hit, but managed to escape.