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Bomb Suspect Blames Older Brother; Suspect's Mother Speaks Out; Making Bomb in Mom's Kitchen; Questions about Dead Bomb Suspect; Boston Bomb Suspect Communicating
Aired April 23, 2013 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: "How to Make a Bomb in Your Mom's Kitchen." Was the manual for the Boston marathon bombers.
NEWSROOM special coverage of the bombings begins right now.
Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting live from Boston.
There have been several major developments coming out of Boston this morning. Let's get you caught up, if you're just catching up on the latest developments back home. But far from back to normal. Beginning next hour, police will take down the first barricades on Boylston Street. That's right behind me. That was the epicenter of the attacks and allow business owners and residents slowly but surely to start returning home.
This morning, we're also learning more about the terror plot. Who was involved? How did they develop it? And why?
And the beginning of the end. Police say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in newly released surveillance photos just after the murder of a MIT police officer and before the first police shoot-out. It would leave him wounded and his brother dead.
And there are more new developments this morning as well. We're learning about how Tsarnaev actually is now accused of acting from one suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, speaking indirectly at least with investigators, saying, we acted alone.
CNN's Jake Tapper says a U.S. government source quotes the sole surviving suspect as saying his brother was the mastermind and they had no international ties to terror groups. He also says the men were motivated by radical Islam and the jihadist goal of waging a holy war, and that they learned to make their bombs from readily available instructions on the Internet.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick is working the story for us. She's in New York speaking with her sources.
What else are we learning, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we can tell you that investigators are beginning to paint a much fuller picture of the parents and the life that this young man, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was living and the sort of the pull between his life here in the United States and his life over in the Russian caucuses, where he had been a transient, basically going from country to country because of the Chechen war.
What we can tell you this morning is that the MIT officer that was shot to death by the two alleged bombers did not radio into dispatch to request a description of the suspects and he did not alert dispatch that he was actually responding to the two men, who apparently came up to him, totally unaware and ambushed him as he sat in his car. He was shot four to five times, according to a source.
And it took at least nearly 13 minutes to actually find that officer. That downed officer. He did not even have time to pull the alert on his radio.
And now what you're looking at now are pictures of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. That was when he went to the convenience store. And it's interesting because this entire sort of manhunt was launched because of these actions of these two men, not just particularly in terms of them building a bomb, but because they are the ones who seemed to have out of nowhere ambushed this police officer and that's what set everything in motion that led to the shoot-out, that led to the capture, the carjacking as well.
What you see there is following the carjacking, he went into a bank and he was removing money, it appears, according to a source, that he removed $800. But it's not clear right now whether that was money from his account, his brother's account or from the carjacker's account.
So all that right now is under investigation. We have a lot more details that are going to be coming up throughout the day, Wolf, and we'll keep you posted -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Deb. Thanks very much.
A Massachusetts gas station manager is now speaking out after he was caught in the middle of Thursday's carjacking allegedly by the Boston bombing suspects. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAREQ AHMED, GAS STATION MANAGER: After maybe 30 seconds, I call the police, he came here, he went inside in the back area, and he closed the door, and at this moment, I called the police. But I remember the gun, they want to shoot me. He was very, very -- he was screaming and he was nervous, he can (INAUDIBLE), so it is difficult for me to tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Powerful words. The gas station manager, by the way, also says he was expecting to die, literally, at any minute. Thank God he is OK.
Meanwhile, a symbolic step in Boston's recovery begins at the top of the hour when one block of Boylston Street, the bomb site area, reopens to merchants and residents. More blocks will open by the hour until about 3:00 p.m. later this afternoon.
Here's a look at a map, by the way, of the affected area, which is really right in the heart of Boston. This part of Boylston Street will still be closed to the general public and to vehicles, at least for now.
The FBI, which had closed the area as part of its investigation, returned to the city late yesterday in a very, very somber ceremony. The flag that had flown at half staff at the site was presented to the Boston mayor, Tom Menino.
A Boston Fire Department hazmat team was cleaning the street last night. It could be at least a couple of days before all the shops and the restaurants begin the process of reopening. Business owners not only need to clean up but also make sure their employees are mentally prepared to return to the scene of the tragedy, this will require some major counseling.
The parents of the Boston bombing suspects live in the Republic of Dagestan, that's in southern Russia.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is there. He just spoke with the mother of these two suspects. Nick is joining us now from the capital city of Dagestan with more. How did that interview with the mother, Nick, go?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a very distraught Zubeidat Tsarnaev, during the conversation which we had earlier on in the evening, she believed that Tamerlan was, in fact, still alive. But it later have transpired to early hour in the morning that she saw pictures on social media of his dead body and was -- she overcome with grief.
Clear to her that in fact he was dead. Much in her mind conspiratorial. Believing in the innocence of her sons' mistaken identity initially. But now the revelation that it was Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, in her mind, caught up in this -- or at least accused of these crimes by U.S. officials, really struggling to take that on board.
She believes Dzhokhar, unable to speak, under medical treatment in the hospital, that he'd been robbed of his voice, in her words, so he can't properly defend himself. I asked her, why did this happen to your sons? And she said because they are Muslims.
Not clear for her that they'll have a fair trial. She herself feels under threat along with her husband. It's not quite clear who she thinks is trying to frame her son for this. She doesn't accuse the American government having gone to the U.S. for refuge some years ago. But certainly struggling with what seems to be the reality presented by U.S. officials here but also interestingly saying that she did hear from her sons the day before she died, simply saying, mama, I love you, and actually to ask about the cats as well.
So a woman deeply traumatized by what she's been hearing and (INAUDIBLE) having to come to grips with the terrifying reality of what happened to their eldest son, saying, in fact, that in fact she will be through the sisters of the two boys, be looking for them to be buried today or tomorrow in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near a mosque there -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And I know when you had a chance to speak with the mother, you know, she did -- in fact say -- suggest earlier on, the sons had been framed. But now you're saying -- and I just want you to, you know, reiterate this, she has now come to the realization that her two sons as accused by U.S. authorities did, in fact, she believes, did in fact commit these bombings or she's still suggesting this is some sort of conspiratorial theory? Some sort of conspiracy leveled against her sons because they are Muslims?
WALSH: No. She believes in a conspiracy and that they're targeted because they're Muslims, but she now accepts that the identity of the people shown on U.S. media and then fought by U.S. officials are actually her sons. That the casualty Tamerlan Tsarnaev is her son.
Let's hear exactly what she has to say, though, about the charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECTS' MOTHER: What's happened is a terrible thing, but I know that my kids have nothing to do with this. I know it. I am their mother. I have -- you know, I know my kids. I know my kids. Really, my kids would never get involved into anything like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: And a different report there, but she reiterated exactly the same points to me on the street and at a lengthy phone interview. Struggling to come to terms here with what U.S. officials are saying and potentially, they hope going to the U.S. in the near future to try and offer some kind of assistance for Dzhokhar, talking to officials, though, here in Russia later on today as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh, on the scene for us in Dagestan. We'll be checking back with you, Nick, throughout the day.
Investigators they are now trying to figure out how these Boston suspects turned pressure cookers into weapons of mass destruction. Instructions are widely available on the Internet, including al Qaeda's online magazine, the magazine entitled "Inspire," which in fact has some step by step directions.
Our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank is very familiar with the magazine. And he also spoke with the explosives experts.
All right, walk us through. What exactly is the similarity between the pressure cooker bomb that was apparently used in the Boston marathon attack and the recipe, if you will, the instructions for building this kind of pressure cooker bomb in "Inspire" magazine? The Al Qaeda online magazine? PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN ANALYST: Well, Wolf, there are really striking similarities between the devices in Boston as described by the criminal complaints and this al Qaeda magazine, this recipe that came out in 2010, "How to Build a Bomb in Your Mom's Kitchen."
And the similarity extend right down to how they actually glued the shrapnel inside the pressure cooker. Also the fact there was sort of a low grade explosive power use. And "Inspire" magazine advised western followers in the United States to actually use multiple pressure cookers and to explode them in a crowded space.
So a lot of similarities to this recipe. But we're not being told yet by authorities that there's an exact match -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Now this magazine inspire magazine, it was -- it was cited by U.S. authorities by other terrorists who engage in activities here in the U.S. And Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas. He's supposedly read this magazine before he allegedly went out. He's accused by the U.S. of killing. Many of his fellow soldiers and injuring many others.
It's a magazine that -- correct me if I'm wrong -- run by this Adam Gadahn, this former American who is pretty sophisticated when it comes these kinds of propaganda devices. Is that right?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, actually the people behind this magazine were Anwar al-Awlaki, this American cleric in Yemen who was killed in 2011. And also another guy, (INAUDIBLE), from North Carolina. An American who moved to Yemen. It's an English speaking magazine. And you're right that it's being linked to multiple plots on both sides of the Atlantic.
And actually this recipe, "How to Build a Bomb In Your Mom's Kitchen," has also been linked to multiple plots on both sides of the Atlantic, including two American plots in 2011, Geico-NASA, Jason Apdo from Fort Hood downloaded it. Also allegedly here in New York in November 2011, a guy called Joseph Mortell (ph) downloaded this recipe, and just last week there was a conviction in the UK, a group of Islamic extremists in the UK had also downloaded this recipe.
So there's a real track record when it comes to Israel's plots of this recipe being used. But we're not yet being told by authorities that there's an exact match -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric, and I believe Zamirkhan also, they're both death. They were killed by U.S. drone strikes. Who's running? Do we know who runs this "Inspire" magazine now because I had been told that Adam Gadahn was very much involved. He's still on the loose.
CRUICKSHANK: Well, you're absolutely right. This magazine does feature a lot of the writing of Adam Gadahn, but Adam Gadahn at the moment is believed to be in Pakistan. It's believed that this magazine is produced in Yemen by English speakers, perhaps some Americans who are still part of this group now. We saw new issues come out recently. They're still putting this magazine together and it's really causing a lot of concern because in each of these issues, they have a hounds who died in terms of launching terrorist attacks in the West. And this real concern the cause of that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Paul Cruickshank, I appreciate it very much. Paul is our terrorism analyst.
There a lots of developments happening right now here in Boston. Coming up next, the wife of the dead Boston bombing suspect, could provide some serious clues about what her husband was doing just before the attack.
And we'll hear what her attorney is now saying about the couple's relationship.
BLITZER: Bombing investigators are hoping they can learn more details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the dead Boston bombing suspect, when they speak with his wife, seen this morning with her attorney. Our Chris Lawrence has been talking with that attorney.
Chris is joining us now from North Kingston in Rhode Island.
Chris, what have you learned?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, investigators know that Katherine Russell lived with Tamerlan, her husband, that small, cramped Cambridge apartment. And as they try to piece together when and where he may have assembled those bombs, they want to talk to her about what she may have known.
We'll show you that video that was shot just this morning, right here at the house where her attorney came to the house, picked her up, and then they left together with federal agents right behind them.
The attorney is saying that so far, he is the one speaking to federal investigators on her behalf. But he says she had no idea what was going on. In fact, we have now learned that Katherine Russell saw her husband Tamerlan on Thursday, before she went to work, as a home health care aide.
She left him at home, watching their young toddler daughter, and didn't realize he was even a suspect until she saw the pictures plastered on the news that night.
So, Wolf, investigators still looking to talk to Katherine Russell.
BLITZER: Any indication -- when you think the formal Q&A process, if you will, the questions and ABCs might begin?
LAWRENCE: The attorney says basically they are still working that out. He has been taking regular meetings with her. We know federal agents have been to the house several times over the last past couple of days. Again, he says she is basically devastated, she's horrified by what happened to the victims of the Boston bombing, and he said she's also dealing with the fact that she has lost her husband and the father of their young daughter.
BLITZER: Her parents, the other day, issued a statement totally disassociating themselves from their now-deceased son-in-law, saying something to the effect he was a monster they never knew. How -- how are her parents dealing with this?
LAWRENCE: They are taking it very hard. You know, the dad came out to get the trash last night, and pretty much said no comment to any questions that were posed to him. But you can see it's taking a very heavy toll on the family. You know, Katherine grew up in the suburbs of Providence. She was raised Christian. She went off to college in Boston, met Tamerlan. They got married around 2010. She converted to Islam, and by all accounts, she was fairly devout. She wore the hijab, the traditional head scarf.
But I'm told by her attorneys that she didn't speak Russian. So she wasn't always aware what was being said because she didn't fully understand the language being spoken at times around the house -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Chris Lawrence, reporting for us.
Just ahead, still many unanswered questions in the Boston marathon terror attack. Investigators work to interview the only suspect still alive. We have new insights into the investigation.
Stay with our special coverage.
BLITZER: There are hundreds of questions that investigators have for the Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The only communication right now is through pen and paper. But one thing Tsarnaev is admitting to, no international terror group was involved in helping planned last Monday's attack.
Our national security analyst Fran Townsend is joining us right now.
Fran, how confident are federal investigators in what he seems to be saying right now? In other words, do they believe him?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, Wolf, whether or not they believe him will have to do with how much of what he says they can corroborate, so that they will look at social media, emails, cell phones. They'll look at credit cards and banks. They'll talk to all sorts of witnesses, including Tamerlan's wife, which you just spoke to Chris Lawrence about.
All of that used to see if the statements he's making are true. And I haven't mentioned yet, I understand that the cooperation between the FBI and the Russian authorities is actually right now quite good. They will look to work with Russian colleagues to try and understand in greater detail and depth, what exactly Tamerlan did on the long six-month trip in 2012. BLITZER: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says his brother Tamerlan was apparently the mastermind of the attacks. So, how do authorities go about trying to confirm this, since the older brother is obviously dead?
TOWNSEND: Well, I think, one, we ought to understand that Dzhokhar's statement, blaming, as we used to say, the dead guy, is self-serving, first and foremost. So we'll review with some amount of skepticism on, look -- they will look to see whether or not -- how did Dzhokhar behave after Tamerlan's death?
Look, he didn't immediately surrender to authorities. He drove off in the car in the direction of officers. He was involved in a shooting, and he was at the boat before he was captured.
I mean, Dzhokhar did a lot of things after Tamerlan was deceased that indicated he was still part and parcel, a partner, if you will, in the criminal acts that had occurred. And so, while it may be Tamerlan took a laboring role in the planning of it, Dzhokhar has at least by his own actions shown he was very much signed on for the entire program that involved killing four people and injuring hundreds.
BLITZER: Yes. And we're also learning that Tsarnaev is claiming his brother's motivation, the dead brother, comes from jihadist thought, the idea that Islam is under attack.
So how does that fit into this investigation that they were simply supposedly -- this is what he's claiming -- trying to protect Islam?
TOWNSEND: You know, Wolf, look, that lends itself to this whole notion that they were self-radicalized. There's a lot on the Internet that they have access to. Paul Cruikshank talked about the bomb manuals and their ability to get a lot of information from preachers like Anwar al-Awlaki and other extremist preachers.
But whatever the justification, the eyes of the law and the courts in the United States, none of that will suffice as a defense. And we should be clear with viewers -- no matter what Dzhokhar says now, the fact that he and his brother don't represent Muslims and Islam around the world, this was -- you know, this was their view and their own justification for really what were horrific acts of violence?
BLITZER: Do we know, Fran, if the information that the younger Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old Tsarnaev has been providing the FBI about his older brother, the motivation, the bomb, the denial of any link to a formal international terrorist group. This information was provided before or after that judge/magistrate was there and r read him his Miranda rights, the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney?
TOWNSEND: Wolf, I'm not I don't think we know for certain. Certainly, sources have indicated to us that was part of a questioning that they did under the -- FBI agents did under a national security exemption, that is before he was presented before magistrate, before he was assigned counsel. They had the ability in the interest of public safety exception to be able to ask questions, were there additional conspirators, where and were there additional explosives. The source of things you want to know immediately in order to protect the public.
And so, presumably, they somewhat were hearing, those are the questions they asked and those are the kinds of responses prior they were getting prior to his first appearance before te magistrate yesterday.
BLITZER: And that would fit in with the public safety exception in the delay in providing the Miranda rights to this criminal defendant as he now is, now that charges have been read to him.
All right. Fran, we'll stay in close touch with you, Fran Townsend, joining us. We're going to have much more coming from Boston in just a moment.
There's other news that we're watching as well. The FBI, back in Washington, up on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are really anxious to know if the agency dropped the ball on one of the Boston terror suspects.
Much more of our special coverage from here in Boston, right after this.