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Boston bombers: FBI hunting 12-strong terrorist “sleeper cell” linked to brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

 


21 Apr 2013 00:01

 

Police believe the pair were specially trained to carry out the devastating attack

 

 

 

Covered boat: Fugitive was found in back yard

Covered boat: Fugitive was found in back yard

AP

 

The FBI was last night hunting a 12-strong terrorist “sleeper cell” linked to the Boston marathon bomb brothers.

 

Police believe Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were specially trained to carry out the devastating attack.

 

More
than 1,000 FBI operatives were last night working to track down the
cell and arrested a man and two women 60 miles from Boston in the hours
before Dzhokhar’s dramatic capture after a bloody shootout on Friday.

 

A
source close to the investigation said: “We have no doubt the brothers
were not acting alone. The devices used to detonate the two bombs were
highly sophisticated and not the kind of thing people learn from Google.

 

“They
were too advanced. Someone gave the brothers the skills and it is now
our job to find out just who they were. Agents think the sleeper cell
has up to a dozen members and has been waiting several years for their
day to come.”

 

A specialist team of CIA and FBI interrogators was
yesterday flown to a Boston hospital to grill wounded Dzhokhar, 19,
about the secret group. The University of Massachusetts student was
caught on Friday after hiding out in a boat parked in a garden in locked
down Watertown the day after a gun battle with police left his
26-year-old brother and a rookie cop dead.

 

Dzhokhar is said to
have run his brother over as he escaped in a stolen car while Tamerlan
lay handcuffed on the ground. They were carrying six bombs with them at
the time, three of which ­exploded, as well as a handgun and rifle. The
devices were thought to be pipe bombs.

 

Last night Dzhokhar – badly
wounded but alive – lay handcuffed to his hospital bed under armed
guard. The other three arrested in the port of New Bedford are also
believed to be of college age.

 

Still infrared image from police search of boat where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding

An aerial infrared image shows the outline of Dzhokhar hiding in the boat

 

AP

 

Dzhokhar even went to a college party two days after the
bombs wreaked havoc at the finish line. According to fellow students, he
“looked relaxed” as he joined in a party at the campus on Wednesday
night.

 

Hours later he was involved in the shootout which saw his brother killed.

 

Investigators
have begun piecing together how the “well-mannered” brothers of Chechen
origin were radicalised. Neighbours of the family said older brother
Tamerlan had recently become obsessed with Islam. He mysteriously left
the US in January last year to spend six months in Russia. Yesterday
senior FBI counter-terrorism official Kevin Brock said: “It’s a key
thread for investigators.”

 

It also emerged the Bureau interviewed
Tamerlan two years ago, at the request of the Russian government, but
could not establish that he had ties to terrorist radicals.

 

This
was despite his worrying Russian-language YouTube page featuring links
to extremist Islamic sites and others since taken down by YouTube.

 

One
link showed an hour-long speech by an Islamic teacher called Shaykh
Feiz Mohammed, while other videos are labled “Terrorists” and “Islam”.

 

The
radical cleric, with links to extremist British Muslims, encouraged his
followers to become martyrs for Islam. He said: “Teach them this: There
is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid.”

 

Yesterday
the brothers’ mother Zubeidat, speaking from her home in Russia, added
further intrigue to her sons’ murky past when she claimed the boys had
been framed by the FBI over the two bombs last Monday that left three
dead and 178 injured.

 

Chechen bombers: Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev at the Boston Marathon

 

AP

 

She claimed the FBI had been keeping watch on her eldest boy
for up to five years. She said: “They knew what my son was doing. They
knew what sites on the internet he was going to.

 

“They were
telling me that he was really an extremist leader and that they were
afraid of him. They told me whatever information he is getting, he gets
from these extremist sites. They were controlling him.”

 

The
bombers’ father Anzor wept at news that his youngest son had been
captured alive. In a phone interview with a US news channel he told his

 

son: “Tell police everything. Everything. Just be honest.”

 

US
Government officials have said the brothers were not under surveillance
as possible militants. And an FBI statement said the matter was closed
because interviews with Tamerlan and family members “did not find any
terrorism activity, domestic or foreign”. But now they believe the pair,
who emigrated to the United States from Dagestan about a decade ago,
were part of a terror cell.

 

College dropout Tamerlan’s American
wife Katherine Russell, 24, and their three-year-old daughter Zahara
were yesterday thrown into the spotlight. She was a Christian before
they married but converted to Islam. Her parents Warren, a doctor, and
Judith were said to be “stunned” by their son-in-law’s involvement in
the tragedy.

 

Judith and Warren issued a joint statement saying:
“Our daughter has lost her husband today, the father of her child. In
the aftermath of the Patriot’s Day horror, we know we never really knew
Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Our hearts are sickened by the horror he has
inflicted.”

 

Katherine, wearing a black hijab, was picked up by FBI
agents at their home in Cambridge near Boston on Friday. Dope-smoker
Dzhokhar was captured after a Watertown resident called police to say
the fugitive was hiding in a boat in his back garden.

 

David
Henneberry had gone into his garden for a cigarette after police lifted
restrictions on people leaving their homes, believing the bomber had
left the area. He noticed that the cover over his boat had blood on it
and a strap had been cut. He went back into the house to get a
stepladder and looked inside.

 

His stepson Robert said: “He stuck
his head under the tarp and noticed a pool of blood and something
crumpled up in a ball. Instead of being a hero of the moment and yelling
at what we now know was the suspect, he did the right thing and called
911.”

 

Police immediately evacuated the family and surrounded the
house, using a megaphone to tell Dzhokhar to come out with his hands up.

 

When
he failed to respond they opened fire at the boat’s hull. Robert said:
“They wound up ­shooting a couple of rounds through the boat. He wasn’t
going to like that.”

 

Dzhokhar was wounded by the volley of gunfire
and police were able to move in and arrest him. They later released
infrared pictures taken from a helicopter showing Dzhokhar hiding in the
boat.

 

Investigators will interrogate the bomber, still seriously
ill last night, without reading him his rights – using special “public
safety” powers.

 

The family of eight-year-old bombing victim Martin Richard welcomed the arrest of Tsarnaev. “Our community is once again safe from these men,” the family said in a statement.

 

Shortly
before Dzhokhar’s capture, President Obama spoke by phone to Russian
President Vladimir Putin. The White House said Obama “praised the close
co-operation the US has received from Russia on counter-terrorism,
including in the wake of the Boston attack”.

 

There were scenes of celebration across Boston as news spread of the capture of the remaining bomber.

 

Get the latest updates on what happened in Boston.

 

 

 


View gallery 

Getty

 

 – HUNDREDS of extra police called in for today’s London
Marathon will remain despite the death and capture of the Boston
suspects, Scotland Yard said. Security has been boosted for the 36,000
runners and thousands of spectators.

 

 

April 22, 2013 - Posted by | Here And Now, Home | , , , , , , ,

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