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Tsarnaev Communicating With Investigators, Says Brothers Acting Alone; Dance Instructor Who Lost a Leg Talks Survival; TSA Puts Hold on Allowing Small Knives on Planes; Anthony Weiner Back on Twitter

Aired April 23, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, a breakthrough for investigators in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. CNN learning what the surviving suspect has revealed about his older brother and what drove both of them to this attack.

Plus, the CNN exclusive from a woman who stood just five feet from one of the blasts.


ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, INJURED IN BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS: A lot of debris falling and I remember telling Adam, oh my gosh, I'm alive.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning. It is Tuesday, April 23rd, about half past the hour right now. And Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is communicating with investigators from his hospital bed. And apparently, he has a lot to say even if he can hardly talk.

A government official tells our Jake Tapper that Tsarnaev has informed investigators that he and his brother acted alone in defense of Islam. Miguel Marquez is live in Boston this morning. And Miguel, what else is Tsarnaev communicating?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, quite a bit if it is to be believed. I mean, keep in mind, this is a person who is facing possible death for these charges, so it's not clear how completely communicative and honest he's being with investigators, but he is saying that his older brother is the person who was the prime force and prime mover behind this plot to bomb the Boston Marathon.

He's saying that they were essentially self-radicalized, that they watched videos online, but they had no communication with outside groups, and that they came to these conclusions on their own and probably the most important bid of information that authorities want to know is whether or not there was any outside influence in their hatching of this plan. And so far, he has said there has not.

It's not clear how exactly he's communicating with them during the time he was arraigned yesterday. He was only mostly able to nod his head. He was able to say no once. But it seemed that investigators are able to get in there on a fairly regular basis, talk to him and get some indication of how they can steer this investigation -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Miguel Marquez here in Boston with me as well. And Miguel brings up an excellent point. This is very interesting information to both us and investigators, but investigators really need to follow up on all these leads. They just can't be certain yet if it is all true. Miguel Marquez, thanks so much.

Meantime, residents and people who work on Boylston Street, which is just behind me here in Boston, they will be allowed back in today. It could be a few more days before the general public is allowed back, though.

Right now, I want to bring in Jim Walsh. He's CNN international security analyst. And Jim, you heard in that report -- you heard in that report right there that we're getting information from the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in his hospital bed that they learned their radicalization process from online videos but not direct communication with people overseas. Does that make sense to you?

JIM WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's possible. We have seen that before more from people who are aspirational rather than actual terrorists who are competent enough to execute an attack. But, it's good news, certainly, and it conforms with what would have been expectation. There's never been a terror plot based in Chechnya or the Russian caucuses that has targeted the United States before that.

It's probably why one of the contributing factors is to why the FBI didn't see this as a looming threat.

BERMAN: So, if it is true, in fact, that they will radicalize just by watching online videos and the question becomes, how did they learn to do everything they did. Was it just online? Was it from manuals, because to me, at least, making three explosives, no matter crude (ph) or simple it is -- to go off, that takes some expertise.

WALSH: I agree, John. We talked about this before. It's one thing to have a blueprint. It's another thing to build an actual working bomb. And when it comes to try and to set off bombs, the most important thing for a terrorist is that the bomb be reliable. In other words, it's going to go off when you want it to go off not before not after.

You know, terrorists have been lost because the bombs went off on them before they reach their target area. Now, so, the question is, where do you get that sort of physical hands on experience where you get to test and figure out whether the thing works or not. I would think that that means they either tested locally, you know, Rural Massachusetts or somewhere in an urban area where people didn't notice or that they got some sort of assistance, but, based on this latest information that we have to treat cautiously.

If it is purely the Internet -- the only guidance they got was on the Internet, then, I'm wondering whether how they spent their time in these last few weeks and whether they tested what they had, because they had plenty of explosive, right? It wasn't a lot of explosive that would have kept them from testing.

BERMAN: So, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect right now who is still alive has indicated also to officials, according to our reporting, that it was his brother that was the driving force behind all this. Where does that leave investigators?

WALSH: Well, in some way, obviously, it's no surprise. I guess the real question though, is, yes, the older brother may have been the leader of this particular attack, but how much did he share with his brother. You know, did he tell him everything, and therefore, the younger brother is going to be able to relay that to law enforcement or are they going to continue to be sort of dark patches where we have questions that may just never be answered.

BERMAN: Last question about the latest incident arrest in Canada from two men, apparently who wanted to work on derailing a train from Canada probably headed here to the U.S. They're identified as having support from al Qaeda in Iran.

WALSH: Right.

BERMAN: A lot of threads here. Do they make sense to you?

WALSH: They don't make sense to me. Now, that doesn't mean they aren't true, but it means we should -- as we've learned this week, as we've learned in the past, we should always be cautious about the early reports. So, one thing the Canadian mounted police said is there is no state sponsor. So, even if there is an al Qaeda link it's not Iran supporting al Qaeda, supporting an attack.

And it makes no sense with what Iran is doing right now. We're in negotiations over the nuclear issue. They're about to have a presidential campaign. This really isn't the way Iran tends to operate. And of course, al Qaeda and Iran are enemies. They're not collaborators. So, that length is a little hazy.

Canadian mounted police said that they got guidance. So, now, we need to figure out what does guidance mean? Does that mean general written things that inspired? Does that mean they picked up a phone and said do X,Y, and Z. That remains to be determined.

BERMAN: All right. Jim Walsh, security analyst, we will speak again about this. Thank you so much for being with us here on this cold bus (ph). Good morning.

WALSH: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

Moving on now, up next, we have more now on the developing story into CNN this morning, learning that less than an hour ago, about the arrest of two suspected al Qaeda terrorists in Spain. The Spanish interior ministry says that the man, one Moroccan, the other Algerian, have a profile similar to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Their arrest coming just days befpre Sunday's Madrid marathon.

Security has already been increased for that event in the wake of the attack here in Boston. And 26,000 runners are expected there.

We have a CNN exclusive now. Adrianne Haslet-Davis is a 32-year-old dance instructor who lost a foot and part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombings. She was watching the marathon with her husband, Adam Davis, an air force captain, when they were hit by the second explosion. Now, despite her injuries, Haslet-Davis vows to dance again and run in the Boston Marathon. This is what she had to say to CNN's Anderson Cooper.


HASLET-DAVIS: I landed and sort of close made eyes and was underneath Adam and kind of covering my head and my face. It was very gray and quiet. Gray, smoke and ashes, and a lot of debris falling, and I remember telling Adam, oh my gosh, I'm alive. And then, he said, I'm OK, I'm OK. Are you OK? Oh my gosh, are you OK? And I said, I think we're OK. And I couldn't believe it.

I couldn't believe that we survived. And that we weren't hurt at all. And I didn't feel any pain. I had no idea what had happened and then I sat up, and I tried -- he said we got to get out of here or something like that. And I sat up and tried to move. And I said oh my gosh, my foot. There's something wrong with my afoot.

And he lifted up my leg and we just lost it. I don't want this to be the end. I'm only 32. I don't want this to be the end. So, whether it's, you know, running the marathon, or walking the marathon, or crawling the marathon, and being the last one across, I'm OK with that. I didn't say I'd win it. But I am defiant and I want to come out stronger.


BERMAN: I love that smile. Haslet-Davis has never run a marathon before, but she says the one point in her life, she wasn't a ballroom dancer either. Interesting. So, can't wait to see her out here running the marathon soon.

So, to find out how you can help those affected by the Boston bombings, you can go to our - Impact Your World page online at

Still ahead, we have new details emerging about the brothers and the radical influence one appears to have had on the other. EARLY START continues right after this break.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Live from Boston this morning. We're all waking up to new details in the investigation into alleged Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. From his hospital bed, investigators say he conveyed that his older brother, Tamerlan, was the mastermind of this attack. And now, we're learning more about signs that Tamerlan might have become radicalized and when Dzhokhar possibly began to follow his lead.

Here's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's prospective on Islam. January 18, Friday prayers at the Islamic Society of Boston's mosque in Cambridge, a mosque leader is giving a service, extolling the virtues of the prophet Muhammad and Martin Luther King Jr. According to mosque officials, it was too much for Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

ANWAR KAZMI, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON BOARD MEMBER: Some people said that he said something to the effect that you cannot, you know, compare or make a parallel between a prophet and a non-Muslim. Some people said that he referred to the person who was giving the sermon as a hypocrite. The adamant word is monofit (ph).

TODD: Anwar Kazmi says the disruption was a clear violation of mosque etiquette. He says people in attendance explained that to Tamerlan Tsarnaev told him to back off. Mosque officials say it was the second time he had objected to something said at a sermon. We pressed him. Were there any red flags that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been radicalized?

NICHOLE MOSSALAM, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON SPOKESWOMAN: Unfortunately, there were no indications and if trained specialist from the FBI were not able to see anything. You know, I'm sure you can understand how people who are merely acquainted with these individuals seeing them sporadically at prayers would not see, you know, anything of this nature as well.

TODD: Mosque officials say Dzhokhar never came to the mosque without his older brother. Friends and acquaintances tell CNN Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the leader between the two brothers. One friend saying Dzhokhar was, quote, "definitely the follower in this situation." John Pinto co-owns a Brazilian restaurant in the Tsarnaev's neighborhood.

In recent months, he saw the brothers come in, sometimes sitting down, sometimes getting chicken and lamb for take-out. Pinto says Tamerlan Tsarnaev always walked in front of his younger brother, swaggering, looking serious and tough.

JOHN PINTO, CO-OWNER, MIDWESTERN GRILL RESTAURANT: (INAUDIBLE). I think the big brother is the one in the command. He's like, let's go, we do this, we do this, we do this, whatever. And the other one just behind him.

TODD: It may not have always been that way. Rose Schutzberg lifeguarded with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at Harvard in the spring and summer of 2011. She says this about the younger brother.

VOICE OF ROSE SCHUTZBERG, DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV: You know, there was an effort to sort of create some distance between his brother (ph), because they didn't see the world quite in the same way.

TODD: Neighbors gave us new information on the broader family dynamic.

(on-camera): This is the top floor apartment here on Norfolk Street in Cambridge where the Tsarnaev family lived. Neighbors say the entire family, parents, brothers, and sisters lived here together at one point. One neighbor told us he observed tension in the family when they all live together.

(voice-over): It was at this address where Tamerlan Tsarnaev was arrested in July 2009 for assaulting his girlfriend. The complaint doesn't show her name, but quotes Tamerlan Tsarnaev is saying, "yes, I slap her." Neighbors told us they thought the tension in the family dissipated after the parents and sisters moved out a couple of years ago.

Brian Todd, CNN, Boston.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Brian Todd. Now, more news about the victims of this awful attack. Sadly, instead of graduation, a memorial for bombing victim, Lingzi Luat Boston University.




BERMAN: Last night's service included music from her piano teacher, also loving words from her roommate who said they became fast, inseparable friends.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We believe that we were long lost sisters and could not wait to begin our adventure in Boston. I was so grateful that I found such a lovely sister in my life, but I had no idea that this friendship could only last one year.


BERMAN: Such a loss. Friends and family of Krystle Campbell also said their goodbyes yesterday. Hundreds of people lined the streets as the hearse approached, and law enforcement honor guards student in front of the church. No public funeral has been set for eight-year- old Martin Richard.

Hundreds of federal officers turned out for a wake Monday for MIT police officer Sean Collier and a public memorial service for Collier is scheduled tomorrow. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, they are set to attend -- Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: So tragic. Thank you, John. Forty- eight minutes past the hour. And still ahead, airline passengers will have to keep their knives, bats, and golf clubs at home at least for a while longer. Why the TSA is now delaying that new policy that was scheduled to take effect this week?


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning. And we're getting our first real look inside the mind of suspected terrorist this morning.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is now communicating with investigators even though he can barely speak. A government official tells CNN's Jake Tapper that Tsarnaev has told law enforcement that his older brother, Tamerlan, was the driving force behind last Monday's attack.

He also said the brothers acted alone and that no foreign terror groups were involved, and he communicated that his motivation was to defend Islam from attack.

Meantime, residents and people who work on Boylston Street which is just behind me right there, they will be allowed back to their homes and places of business today. This is a few days before, maybe a day or two, before the general public is allowed back in, but for those people who live and work there, it is welcome news it will be allowed back for the first time -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: It is really good news. I suspect you're going to be having lunch in one of those restaurants today, John.

BERMAN: We'll see. Hope so.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you. We'll check back in with you.

It's 52 minutes past the hour. Other stories making news this morning. The TSA plan to let passengers bring small knives on planes is now officially on hold. The new policy was supposed to go into effect on Thursday, but the agency wants more input. Critics, including flight attendants say letting knives back in the cabin is a dangerous idea, but supporters say it will speed of lines and let agents focus on bigger threats.

Well, the football coach in Steubenville, Ohio, getting a two-year contract extension. The superintendent says it's for Reno Saccoccia's work as an administrator not as a coach. Two of his players were convicted last month of raping a 16-year-old girl. Critics say the coach knew about the rape but didn't help the investigation. More people could be charged in this case.

And a smoking new health plan for New York City. Listen to this, it could be the first big city to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. The city council ruled out the idea Monday. Supporters say raising the age limit could cut smoking among 18 to 20-year-olds by more than half.

So, you never know who or what you'll run into in the circus bathroom. The clown is scary enough, but a Kansas woman ran into that, right there, a tiger. The big cat bolted after performance and ended up in the woman's restroom along with Jenna Krehbiel. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS DENTON DEVORE, HUSBAND: I called my wife and told her lock herself in a stall.

JENNA KREHBIEL, SAW TIGER IN RESTROOM: My first thought was, OK, I need to be calm, turn around, walk out, you'll be fine. And that's what I did.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness! Funny enough, the tiger is a female so she was in the right restroom. Circus workers got her back in her cage. Luckily, no one was hurt there. And she survives to tell the story.

And still ahead, just days after Neil Diamond led a Fenway Park sing along to "Sweet Caroline." Listen. Remember that? It was a special moment. So, we're learning that he is writing a new song. It is inspired by the Boston bombings. It's one of the stories that's trending this morning. That's headed your way next.


BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Trending online this morning, yes, he is a native New Yorker, but singer Neil Diamond is Boston strong these days.




SAMBOLIN: That's so beautiful.

BERMAN: So good, so good, so good. You'll never get that song out of your head. None of us will.

SAMBOLIN: No, I think it's great --


SAMBOLIN: Hey, Berman, I just want to interrupt here for a second -- was really, really special, right, because you are a native of Boston and this really had a healing and unifying effect, didn't it?

BERMAN: Absolutely. Neil Diamond always brings us all together. No, "Sweet Caroline" is a song they play at Fenway. We love to hear it. We love to sing it. Neil Diamond, of course, came on Saturday and sang it to all of us. Really, everyone around the world, but now, we get this news. Neil Diamond tells "Rolling Stone" magazine that he's actually writing a new song inspired by the tragedy here in Boston.

There's no word on when it may be released, but Diamond say that he's putting the song on the fast track. Can't wait to hear it. SAMBOLIN: No. I'm sure you're going to be singing it a lot like you sing "Sweet Caroline" all the time.

All right. Fifty-nine minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: You love it.

SAMBOLIN: I do love it.

Also trending this morning, Anthony Weiner is back on Twitter, believe it or not. The disgraced former New York congressman has a new account, John, as he tried to mount a political comeback. Weiner is considering a possible run for New York City mayor this year. And of course, everyone knows he was forced to resign from Congress nearly two years ago after posting a sexually suggestive image of himself on Twitter.

So, right now, his new account, @AnthonyWeiner has just under 7,000 followers. There's a peek at that account for you right there.

And EARLY START continues right now.