Tag Archives: Tsarnaev

Waltham killings finally get some press, because FBI-Boston has some explaining to do

Note how this article leads with stories of Brendan’s alleged violent past, stories never reported before as far as I know.  Why is that?  Because, back in 2011 when Mess and his associates were killed, FBI-Boston and the CIA just wanted the triple-homicide to quietly disappear, to be forgotten about by the public.  Now, they need to demonize Brendan and his associates so that the public won’t much care that their 2011 killings were not vigorously investigated and their killers (Tamerlan, Dzhokhar, Todashev) never found.  The FBI/CIA hopes that the public and media just throw up their hands and shrug off the deaths of more violent drug dealers, violent immigrants, and violent terrorists.  But any aware onlooker should realize that, if Tamerlan had been arrested for these murders in 2011, the Boston Bombing Attack never happens.


By Michael Rezendes and Bob Hohler

May 24, 2013

On a Sunday afternoon in summer 2010, Brendan H. Mess, a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a specialist in mixed martial arts, was walking along a Cambridge street when he came face to face with a police officer. The patrol­man was investigating a complaint that Mess, then 24, had attacked a group of people near Inman Square, breaking one man’s nose and leaving another with a bloody mouth.

Rather than cooperate, Mess began yelling at the officer, at one point saying, “I can knock you out if I wanted to,” according to the officer’s ­report. Soon, three additional officers arrived, and Mess was hit with a chemical spray, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed.

Even then, police said, Mess continued threatening the officers.

A year later, Mess was dead, his throat slashed in a grisly triple homicide in Waltham on Sept. 11, 2011, that was widely assumed to be a drug deal gone bad and all but forgotten. But 18 months later it has burst again into the public eye, an international incident with links to the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, a man shot this week in Orlando, Fla., and a world of extreme violence they inhabited.

“This is an ongoing investigation, and clearly there are some very dangerous people ­involved in this whole series of crimes,” Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said Thursday.

Authorities now say bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have helped kill the three men, along with Ibragim ­Todashev, who was shot by an FBI agent after he allegedly lunged at the agent with a blade during an interview in Orlando.

“The Orlando questioning was focused on what happened in Waltham,” Davis said.

Little has been publicly known of the three men who were discovered in Mess’s apartment, where they had gathered to watch a football game. Investigators said they appeared to have been ambushed, their throats slashed and marijuana covering them.

Killed with Mess were Erik H. Weissman, 31, and Raphael M. Teken, 37. All three were ­familiar to police. Teken, who attended Brookline High School and Brandeis University and whose father, Avi Teken, is the spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation in Newton, had received six months of pretrial probation in 2005 after he was charged with assaulting a woman and maliciously damaging property.

Weissman, who, like Mess and Tsarnaev, attended Cambridge Ringe & Latin School, had run into deeper legal trouble. According to court records reviewed by the Globe, on Jan. 17, 2011, Boston police searched Weissman’s Roslindale apartment and seized more than $21,000 in cash, along with drug paraphernalia and a wide assortment of drugs, including marijuana, hashish, cocaine, and Oxycontin.

Weissman was also charged in 2008 with drug possession with intent to distribute after Boston police stopped him for traffic violations in Allston and found marijuana in his car.

Weissman’s lawyer, Norman S. Zalkind, said Weissman was not attempting to negotiate a plea deal by informing on other criminal suspects, which would virtually eliminate the possibility that the three men were killed as an act of retribution by a drug supplier who may have been involved with Weissman.

“We were working out a very positive situation for Erik; he had a very good case,” Zalkind said, adding that Weissman was challenging the legality of the warrant used to search his apartment. “He wasn’t afraid of any significant problem.”

Friends and relatives of the victims said the apartment was rented by Mess and that Weissman, after having his cash and drugs seized by the police, was staying there temporarily. ­Teken also lived in Waltham.

It has always been clear, author­ities say, that those who committed the killings were strong and skilled combatants. On their death certificates, Mess is listed as a martial arts instructor and Teken as a personal trainer. Yet the three men were overpowered and killed without a shot being fired.

Mess once challenged a person who tried to rob him at gunpoint in Cambridge, said a friend who witnessed the incident. Though the gun turned out to be fake, the friend said, Mess approached his assail­ant and said, “Pull the trigger. Do what you have to do.”

“Brendan was nobody to mess with,” the friend said. “He wouldn’t lay down and get his throat cut.’’

The Globe reported last month that friends and relatives of the victims began suspecting Tsarnaev of the homicides for a variety of reasons, includ­ing a change in behavior after the slayings. The killings also occurred on a date of great significance to jihadists.

Initially, neighbors of the victims said they were told by police that the killings were probably drug related. But some family members disagreed, as did Zalkind.

“With a drug killing, people come over and – bang, bang – it’s over,” Zalkind said. “They want to get out of there as fast as they can.”

It remains unclear whether authorities investigated ­Tsarnaev in connection with the killings before friends and family of the victims began calling Waltham police and federal authorities last month to report a possible link, after Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar, were publicly identified as the suspected Marathon bombers.

But there is no question about Tsarnaev’s ties to Mess, who had recently moved to Waltham from Cambridge at the urging of Mess’s girlfriend, Hibatalla Eltilib, according to friends and relatives of the victims who spoke with the Globe. Mess and Tsaernaev had grown close as neighbors near Inman Square, sharing a love of fighting, as well as hip-hop music.

Newly named Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan on Thursday said she would have no comment on any aspect of the investigation. But friends and relatives of the victims, in hindsight, said police should have examined the relationship between Eltilib, a native of ­Sudan, and Tsarnaev.

Although friends knew ­Tsarnaev to be Muslim, they did not consider him to be an ­extremist.

Eltilib, by contrast, was outspoken about her Islamic beliefs and disdain for many American values, friends said.

“She and Tam got really close and became friends,’’ said a friend of Mess, Tsarnaev, and Eltilib. “This was closer to ­Brendan’s death. They would share stories of their distaste for American culture. She was extremely aggressive and violent and had this radical way of thinking.’’

All the friends and relatives of the victims who spoke with the Globe asked for anonymity due to fear of retribution from a killer who might still be at large.

Eltilib has since returned to Sudan. Repeated attempts to reach her in recent weeks were unsuccessful. It is unclear when she left the Greater Boston ­area, but her departure mirrors those of Tsarnaev and Todashev, each of whom also left the area following the triple homicide. Tsarnaev visited ­Russia for six months last year, and Todashev moved to Florida.

Only in retrospect did Tsarnaev’s behavior after the killings become suspicious to friends and family of the victims. They say he was absent from Mess’s wake a week after the slayings. Friends also wondered why he was absent again the next day when hundreds of Mess’s friends and relatives gathered for a memorial service at Ryle’s Jazz Club in Inman Square, near Tsarnaev’s home.

Several friends said he also behaved strangely during ­encounters in the weeks after. No longer humorous and engag­ing, they said, he was aloof, and one longtime ­acquaintance said Tsarnaev suddenly acted as if he did not know him.

Maria Sacchetti of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Rezendes can be reached at rezendes@globe.com; Bob Hohler at hohler@­globe.com.


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Mueller defends FBI in Boston bombing

Muellar and the FBI have no shame.  The FBI has somehow managed to also bury its role in the Brendan Mess triple-homicide as well as Uncles Tsarni’s connection to the CIA and the unreported Saudi Arabian warning to DHS about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s suspicious travels and activities.
By Douglas Frantz, Washington Post
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Thursday defended the bureau’s handling of a Russian warning about a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing in the months before the attack.Mueller told a Senate subcommittee that an FBI investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev initiated in March 2011 after a tip from Russian authorities found that Tsarnaev posed no terrorist threat. He said two later attempts to obtain more information from the Russians got no response, and the case was closed.

“As a result of this, I would say, thorough investigation, based on the leads we got from the Russians, we found no ties to terrorism,” Mueller told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on commerce, justice and science.

He acknowledged, however, that electronic notifications that Tsarnaev had left the United States in January 2012 and spent six months in Russia were not shared fully within the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston.

“To the extent that we go back and look and scrub and see what we could have done better, this is an area where we’re looking at and scrubbing it and doing better,” the FBI director said.

Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police four days after the April 15 bombing. His brother, Dzhokhar, 19, is recovering from gunshot wounds in a federal prison hospital and faces charges that could carry the death penalty in connection with the bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others. The brothers also are suspected of killing a campus police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dzhokhar was interviewed by FBI agents before he was charged and told them that he and his brother were motivated out of anger at the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a new development, CBS News reported Thursday that authorities found a note written on the interior wall of the boat cabin where Dzhokhar was hiding in which he said the bombing was retribution for the wars and called the Boston victims “collateral damage.”

Dzhokhar wrote that he did not mourn his older brother because he was a martyr and that he expected to join him in paradise soon, according to CBS.

Questions have been raised about whether the FBI should have responded more aggressively to the Russian information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev and about whether the tip was shared properly among law enforcement agencies.

In his first congressional testimony on the bombing, Mueller offered little new information about the FBI’s actions before the bombing or the continuing investigation. He said efforts are still under way to discover whether anyone else was associated with the attack.

The Tsarnaev family was originally from Chechnya, a Russian region where Islamic militants have been waging a battle against Moscow. The family had lived in the Boston area for a decade, but Mueller said Russian authorities reported in March 2011 that they were concerned that Tamerlan planned to return to Russia and join Islamic militants.

In response, Mueller said, an FBI agent in Boston looked into Tsarnaev’s background. He visited the community college Tsarnaev attended, interviewed his parents and then interviewed Tsarnaev. Mueller said the agent found no ties to terrorism, and the bureau got no response from the Russians when it asked for any additional information in September and October of 2011. So the case was closed.

Still, Tsarnaev’s name was added to a low-level watch list that notified U.S. law enforcement when he traveled. In January 2012, an automatic notification was sent to a Customs agent with the Boston terrorism task force that Tsarnaev had left the country for Russia. A second notice was sent when he returned six months later.

There have been reports that Tsarnaev met with Islamic militants while in Russia and U.S. officials have said that he and his brother became more radical after his return from the trip.

Mueller said the Customs agent took no action in response to the texts. “It may well have been because of the numerous inquiries that we handle,” he said.

He added that changes are being made in the system to ensure more attention is paid to texts.


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Sebastian A. Freddura: “We’d smoke a jay and he’d come out and pray.”

WATERTOWN — When Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after a fiery­ shoot-out with police, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect and his younger brother were making their last stand in a neighborhood Tamerlan knew well.

On at least a dozen occasions, Tamerlan had visited a two-family home on Boylston Street, just a few short blocks from the scene of his violent death, to meet with friends who knew him as a freewheeling Muslim who danced to hip-hop music, smoked marijuana, and always kept a prayer rug in the trunk of his car.

“He’d wash his hands and lay it out in the backyard and pray for 20 minutes or a half-hour a handful of times a day,” said Sebastian A. Freddura, a hip-hop performer and onetime Cambridge neighbor who was one of Tamerlan’s oldest friends in America. “We’d smoke a jay and he’d come out and pray.”

In an interview with the Globe, Freddura provided new information that may help explain the final, bizarre two hours of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s life as he and his brother, Dzhokhar, fled in a carjacked vehicle on the night of April 18 and drove to this quiet, secluded neighborhood.

Freddura said that on the night of the frenzied firefight between the Tsarnaev brothers and police, the brothers may have been heading to his place. In fact, during the predawn hours on Friday, as law enforcement officials searched Watertown for Dzhokhar, Freddura said he at one point instinctively picked up a hammer to protect himself in case Dzhokhar came to the door.

But even if the brothers were not going to Freddura’s, Tamerlan, at least, knew the neighborhood well because of him, and the brothers’ 90-minute drive before the fateful shoot-out was basically a tour of places intimately familiar to Tamerlan, including his old gym in Allston and the home of a murdered friend in Waltham.

As an unprecedented manhunt closed in on the Tsarnaevs, they never traveled more than 8 miles from their home on Norfolk Street in Cambridge, and Tamerlan died 1,000 feet from his old friend’s home.

Freddura, known by the stage name SebNyce, or Mr. Nyce, described Tamerlan as a boisterous member of a large circle of male friends who knew Tamerlan as “Tim” and often gathered to play stick hockey, visit downtown nightclubs, or watch Freddura record hip-hop tunes, initially in the basement of his mother’s Cambridge home and later at a Lynn sound studio.

The friendship was so close, Freddura said, that he would see Tamerlan almost daily, a pattern that waned only after Tamerlan met Katherine O. Russell, the Suffolk University student from Rhode Island who would become his wife in 2010.

Freddura said the friendship began seven or eight years ago during a basketball game at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school when Freddura got into a scuffle with another player and found Tamerlan by his side.

“He was kind of catching my back,” Freddura said. “There was definitely a strong connection with that one altercation.”

As Freddura got to know Tamerlan, he became familiar with his friend’s accomplishments as an amateur boxer but said he never saw him become violent and is unable to reconcile his memories with the man who allegedly plotted to set off two bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three spectators and leaving more than 260 injured.

“It’s really overwhelming,” he said.

Police released images of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, who is recovering from wounds at a prison hospital at Federal Medical Center Devens, late on the afternoon of April 18.

But it was not until early the next morning, after Freddura had returned home from working the late shift at a restaurant and the Tsarnaev brothers’ shoot-out with police had turned his neighborhood into a virtual war zone, that he saw the images on television and recognized his old friend.

“Arrow in the heart,” he said, describing the moment when he saw the surveillance images of Tamerlan wearing dark glasses, a dark jacket, and a cap at the Marathon. “There wasn’t really a doubt in my mind in terms of recognizing him.”

But Freddura’s surprise and disappointment turned to concern after Tamerlan was killed and police were searching for Dzhokhar. At that point, Freddura and a group of friends with him began to worry that the Tsarnaev brothers had been on their way to the house, and that Dzhokhar might appear at their door or try to hide on the property.

“It was a real big concern and a worry,” Freddura said. The alleged bombers could have been looking for “refuge, hostage, or anything. Just anything is running through our heads. It’s overwhelming.”

Freddura did not know Dzhokhar nearly as well as he knew Tamerlan. But his concern also stemmed from the fact that, gradually, he and Tamerlan had grown apart.

Although Freddura had bumped into Tamerlan at the nearby Arsenal Mall the month before the bombings, exchanging hugs and pleasantries, the two young men were no longer hanging out or meeting up with friends at Freddura’s apartment.

“It was, ‘What’s up, brother? How you been? Let’s catch up,’ ” Freddura said, recalling the chance encounter. “It was not like, ‘What are you doing? Let’s hang out.’ I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months . . . hadn’t been in contact with him.”

Freddura said he began losing regular contact with Tamerlan in 2010 after Tamerlan met Russell, a Rhode Island doctor’s daughter who was unlikely to fit in with Tamerlan’s rollicking crowd from the working-class Cambridge neighborhood where he lived.

“She had a couple of friends. They were kind of weird,” Freddura said, describing them as “preppy.” And Tamerlan began spending weeks at a time out of town, presumably, Freddura said, at Russell’s family home.

By the time Russell converted to Islam and the couple had a daughter, who is now a toddler, Tamerlan and Freddura were no longer in regular touch, to the point where Freddura would never see Russell again. “I never saw her after all that happened,” Freddura said. “I never met the baby.”

Now, as investigators try to determine whether Tamerlan received training in terrorism during a six-month trip to Russia last year, it is clear that Tamerlan hewed to familiar turf while he and his younger brother were on the run.

After allegedly murdering an MIT police officer, Sean Collier, during an apparently botched attempt to steal his firearm on April 18, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar embarked on a circuitous journey that initially appeared to defy logic. But their route seems to have been something of a trip down memory lane, at least for Tamerlan.

When the brothers carjacked a Mercedes-Benz SUV, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were less than a half-mile from the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts gym, in Allston, where Tamerlan had often worked out.

Over the next 90 minutes, the Tsarnaevs and their victim would drive into Freddura’s neighborhood three times. They also drove through parts of Brighton, where Tamerlan once held a job delivering pizzas, Freddura said.

Later, with Tamerlan at the wheel, the SUV passed within a stone’s throw of an apartment on Harding Avenue in Waltham where Tamerlan’s self-described best friend had lived until his 2011 murder.

Brendan Mess, another hip-hop fan who grew up in Cambridge with Tamerlan, was a martial arts instructor who had worked out with Tamerlan at the Wai Kru gym. He was slashed to death along with two other young men on the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, their throats slit and their bodies sprinkled with marijuana.

Law enforcement officials are looking into the possibility that Tamerlan played a role in the slayings.

For Freddura, the bombing of the Marathon and Tamerlan’s death have permanently altered his memories of his years growing up as a carefree high school student with a large circle of friends that included Tamerlan, the unforgettable “oddball Russian” who always seemed to have his back.

Even while Freddura was enrolled at Salem State College, from 2008 to 2010, and was renting an apartment in Salem, Tamerlan and Freddura’s other friends would often head north for a weekend of partying.

“They’d all hop in Tim’s car and shoot on up Route 1A. Come to Mr. Nyce’s house. It was a good time,” Freddura recalled.

During the interview, Freddura at times described his years growing up with Tamerlan and his other friends in the mixed neighborhood east of Harvard Square and north of Massachusetts Avenue in idyllic terms, marveling at all the families that seemed to have three or four brothers, all about the same age.

But now, Freddura said, he is struggling to come to grips with Tamerlan’s alleged role in the bombings, the tragic toll of death and injuries — and the loss of a close friend who apparently changed, mysteriously and radically.

“He believed in me,” Freddura said, recalling the occasions when Tamerlan would accompany him to a Lynn sound studio to watch him record. “I was waiting for that big day to hire him as my bodyguard. That’s not going to happen.”

Eric Moskowitz and Maria Sacchetti of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Rezendes can be reached at rezendes@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @RezGlobe. Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

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Brendan Mess Triple Murder

Brendan Mess Waltham MA triple-homicide, 9/11/11

There are many articles and videos on this.  Tamerlan is alleged to have killed 3 young men, slit their throats with the aid of his brother, allegedly.  But they did it, beyond a reasonable doubt.  $5,000 left at the scene, a Mercedes towed away, and marijuana left at the scene, which was left on the victims bodies in 3 different rooms.  This is where Tamerlan obtained his guns, turning them first on Brendan and his doomed drug associates.  The slaying occurred on 9/11/2011, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  Two of the victims were Jewish, one a Brandeis graduate.

Grisly.  The case was eventually kicked up to the Mass State Police, where it was dispatched by FBI-Boston and CIA.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev was never questioned, despite being Brendan’s best friend, despite being the last to be seen with Brendan, and despite not showing up at his wake or funeral.  This is not some wild conspiracy theory.  These are all facts.  Crimes like this do not miss the radar of FBI, national security, intelligence and the CIA.  Never will happen.  Not once.

Update:  May 1, 2013

I’m trying to locate all police and investigator comments on this case.  There is something very rotten here.  This case seems to have been buried, intentionally.

Waltham authorities helpless in Sept murder investigation 11/4/11

Are Authorities Still Investigating Waltham Triple Murder A Year Later?  9/12/12

http://www.businessinsider.com/murder-of-brendan-mess-the-best-friend-of-boston-bombing-suspect-tamerlan-tsarnaev-2013-4 4/20/13

Gym owner Allan said that Tamerlan had once introduced him to an American, Brendan Mess, whom Tamerlan described as his best friend.

Two years ago, Mess and two other men were brutally killed in a Waltham apartment where they were found by police with their throats slit and their bodies covered with marijuana. The murders remain unsolved.

Here’s Gerard ‘Gerry’ Leone, who was Middlesex District Attorney at the time of the Brendan Mess murders, but announced on January 11th, 2013 that he would not seek re-election in November.  Then, on March 19th, he announced that he would step down early and leave office on April 12th to join Nixon Peobody on the 29th of April.  Leone actually stepped down on April 19, 2013 and joined Nixon Peabody LLP, a  well-respected international law firm, where he will become a partner alongside former Senator Scott Brown, beginning April 29th.  Mass Governor Patrick named Michael Pelgro interim Middlesex DA, with an election later this November.  I thought it was strange that Leone chose not to finish his term, but I find his past and current associations even stranger.

He is an executive board member of the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council as well as an executive committee member for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

He also served as the first Anti-Terrorism Task Force coordinator in Massachusetts following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

As the Department of Justice’s first ever Anti-Terrorism Task Force Coordinator for Massachusetts, Leone initiated nationally recognized and unprecedented cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities to protect the Commonwealth from terrorist threats following September 11th.  http://www.nixonpeabody.com/Middlesex_District_Attorney_Gerry_Leone_Joins_Nixon_Peabody“Boston

Bomber’s” Former Friends Suspect Him In Triple Murder

Police have said they believe there were two other men in Mess’ apartment — the scene of the crime — sometime before the murder, but those two men have never been identified. Ray said following the murder, he was questioned by detectives who told him Tsarnaev may have been with Mess either the day of or the night before, although the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office said they could not confirm any relationship between Mess and Tsarnaev. The Waltham police department declined to comment on the murder or on the alleged relationship between Tsarnaev and Mess.

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FBI-Boston ‘info hoarding’ hurt Boston bombing probe

chad.selweski@macombdaily.com @cbsnewsman

Nearly 12 years after the Sept. 11 attacks and more than two years after the attempted Christmas Day bombing, congressional officials learned that anti-terrorism communications between federal intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials remains faulty.

The House Homeland Security Committee was told that the FBI did not initially share with Boston police the warnings from Russia’s security service in 2011 about one suspect in last month’s marathon bombings, despite the work of four city police representatives on a federal terrorism task force.

“We need to look at our processes to see if there are better ways that something like this (the Boston bombings) can be stopped before it happens,” said Rep. Candice Miller, the Harrison Township Republican who serves as vice chair of the committee.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller

Boston’s Police Commissioner Ed Davis acknowledged that police might not have uncovered or disrupted the plot even if they had received warnings from the FBI and fully investigated the family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI after a cursory investigation closed its assessment on Tsarnaev, who died during a police shootout after the bombings. Boston police learned about the Russian warnings only later.

“That’s very hard to say. We would certainly look at the information, we would certainly talk to the individual,” Davis said. “From the information I’ve received, the FBI did that, and they closed the case out. I can’t say that I would have come to a different conclusion based upon the information that was known at that particular time.”

The congressional hearing was the first in a series to review the government’s initial response to the attacks, ask what information authorities received aboutTsarnaev and his brother before the bombings and consider whether it was handled correctly.

“We need to take what we have learned and make sure that we are constantly improving our information-sharing so we don’t suffer another attack,” Miller said after the hearing. “You can’t be an information hoarder anymore.”


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‘Mounting Evidence’ Boston Bombers Involved in 2011 Triple Murder

Investigators have gathered ‘mounting evidence’ that suggest the Boston bomber brothers could have been involved in a grisly unsolved triple murder in 2011, it has emerged.


Now law enforcement officials tell ABC News that some crime scene forensic evidence provided a match to the two Tsarnaev brothers. The officials also said records of cell phones used by the Tsarnaevs appears to put them in the area of the murders on that date. Several officials confirmed the new findings but declined to be identified because they are not authorized to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Through a spokesperson, the newly-appointed Middlesex District Attorney, Marian Ryan, declined to comment on the brothers’ possible involvement in the 2011 murder. Miriam Conrad, one of the attorneys representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the bombing case, also declined to comment through her legal assistant.


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Suspect in Boston Bombing Talked Jihad in Russia

From New York Times:

KIZLYAR, Russia — It’s not every day that a well-dressed American shows up in this town, where shaggy cows meander over deeply rutted roads, so people remember Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Among the things that made the young visitor stand out, two acquaintances recalled on Thursday, was his avid interest in waging jihad.

“He already had jihad views when he came; I think because he was Chechen, he was rooting for his homeland,” Zaur M. Zakaryayev, 29, a member of a Salafi advocacy organization, the Union of the Just, said Thursday. “When he got here he was surprised at the conditions. I think he expected to find a full-fledged war, that one people was fighting with another.”

These new accounts out of Kizlyar, where Mr. Tsarnaev spent time with a cousin who is a prominent Salafi Islamist leader, have begun to flesh out a picture of what he did during his six months in Russia last year.

On Sunday agents from the Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., interrogated Mr. Tsarnaev’s cousin, who is in police custody, asking if he impressed the young man with “extremist” views, his lawyer said.

But the cousin, Magomed Kartashov, told them it was the other way around. In interviews, several young men here agreed, saying that Mr. Kartashov spent hours trying to stop Mr. Tsarnaev from “going to the forest,” or joining one of the militant cells scattered throughout the volatile region, locked in low-level guerrilla warfare with the police.

“Magomed explained to him at length that violent methods are not right,” Mr. Zakaryayev said.

Mr. Tsarnaev’s friends in Kizlyar may be responsible for a crucial change in his thinking. When he left, he was no longer focused on the local grievances that fueled the fighting against the police — but instead broader issues in the Islamic world, including the effect of United States and Russian policy in the Middle East.

Rasim B. Ibadamov said that by last summer, Mr. Tsarnaev was taking steps that suggested he had let go of the idea of joining the underground — for instance, applying to renew his Russian passport. “What I can say is there was the impression that Tamerlan listened to Magomed and to some extent, he changed,” Mr. Ibadamov said. “His behavior changed. He started to read more, and to read different books. In general, as far as I understand, he changed his views.”

Mr. Tsarnaev’s body was interred Thursday in an undisclosed location, the police in Worcester, Mass., said in a statement. The announcement represented an end to a grim effort to find a place to bury the bombing suspect, who was shot by the police and run over by his brother, Dzhokhar, after the two tried to elude the authorities during a chase that began April 18.

A long list of cemeteries had refused to accept the body.

“A courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased,” read a statement on the Police Department’s Web site.

Mr. Tsarnaev’s relationship with Mr. Kartashov, which was first reported by Time magazine on Wednesday, may help explain his mentality as he returned to the United States. Kizlyar is one of the most dangerous spots in Dagestan’s insurgency, in which militants kill scores of policemen every year and counterterrorism raids can leave neighborhoods in ruins. Mr. Kartashov once served as a police inspector there, but left the force around 10 years ago and has since become a charismatic Salafi leader.

His group protests police counterterrorism tactics in the region, which are often brutal, and it burned American and French flags after the release of the anti-Islam YouTube film “Innocence of Muslims.” The authorities in Dagestan have viewed Mr. Kartashov’s activity with mounting suspicion. He was arrested two weeks ago, after the police stopped a wedding convoy that was flying black flags with Arabic phrases.

“To all our questions there was only one answer: ‘We only have two flags: the flag of the Russian Federation and the flag of the republic of Dagestan. Do not raise any other flag,’ ” Mr. Ibadamov said. Mr. Kartashov now faces a possible 10-year sentence for resisting the police.

Mr. Ibadamov said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s parents had first turned to Mr. Kartashov for counseling during earlier trips to Russia, and that when Mr. Tsarnaev came to Russia last year they wanted him to follow suit.

“I understand that they had a kind of Islamic vacuum,” he said. “They turned to Magomed as a knowledgeable person. Magomed was happy about this; he explained what Islam was, what his views were. And the father was complaining that Tamerlan was sort of a tough kid, a boxer.”

When Mr. Tsarnaev arrived in Kizlyar to consult with Mr. Kartashov, they all noticed: “His pants, his scarf, his glasses, everything in aggregate set him apart from the mass,” Mr. Ibadamov said. He was partial to the Internet sermons of the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who called for jihad against the United States and was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

But after spending a week in Kizlyar in conference with his cousin, he seemed to have new goals. Mr. Zakaryayev said he ran into Mr. Tsarnaev repeatedly at a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital, and was increasingly sure he would not join an insurgent group. “He could have gone if he wanted,” he said. “It’s not hard to do it, because every day there is a special operation, and every day people are leaving.”

When Mr. Tsarnaev was linked to the Boston Marathon bombings, his associates in Kizlyar had various reactions. Mr. Zakaryayev recalled wondering whether he had slid back into his old reverence for Mr. Awlaki. “I thought, he had those views, maybe he did it,” he said. But Mr. Ibadamov is like an overwhelming number of young people in Dagestan, where trust in law enforcement is close to zero: he believes Mr. Tsarnaev was framed.

In another reaction that is nearly universal here, he also expressed frustration at the attention that has been given to the attack and its victims. “What happened in Boston — we don’t support that,” he said. “Three people died. But on that same day, 100 people were killed in bombing in Syria. We say, is the blood of Syrians so meaningless for world society, and is the blood of Americans so important?”


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