Boston suspect: We learned how to make bombs from Inspire magazine
The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon attack has told investigators that he and his brother got instructions on building bombs from an online magazine published by al Qaeda, federal law enforcement officials told NBC News.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that the brothers read the instructions in Inspire, an online, English-language magazine that terror monitoring groups say al Qaeda began publishing in 2010.
The magazine has twice included articles on building bombs with kitchen pressure cookers — the method investigators say Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, used in the Boston attack.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested Friday after a manhunt that shut down Boston and its suburbs. He was interrogated in a Boston hospital bed, where he is recovering from injuries sustained in shootouts during the hunt. His condition was upgraded Tuesday to fair from serious, federal prosecutors in Massachusetts said.
Federal authorities charged him Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction, which could carry the death penalty.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that he and Tamerlan, who was killed after a shootout with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown, were motivated by religious fervor but were not in touch with overseas terrorists or terror groups, officials said.
Several officials familiar with the interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev described his behavior as cooperative.
According to a transcript of what was officially his first court appearance, from the hospital room, Tsarnaev communicated mostly by shaking his head. He spoke once, when asked whether he could afford a lawyer. He said, “No.” He was assigned three federal public defenders.
The White House said Monday that Tsarnaev will be tried in civilian court. Some Republicans have called for him to be treated as an enemy combatant, and tried in a military commission.
Tsarnaev, 19, is a naturalized American citizen of Chechen origin. White House press secretary Jay Carney said that American citizens cannot under law be tried in military commissions. He also noted that “hundreds of terrorists” have been convicted and imprisoned since Sept. 11, 2001, under the civilian court system.
In the hospital, Tsarnaev was advised of his rights and charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S. and one count of malicious destruction of property with an explosive device.
The suspect agreed to “voluntary detention” but declined to answer questions about bail, according to a court record. A probable cause hearing was set for May 30.
The twin blasts near the marathon finish line killed three people and injured more than 170. On Tuesday, there were still 45 victims in Boston hospitals, one in critical condition. Boston Children’s Hospital said that a 7-year-old girl with leg injuries had been upgraded to serious condition from critical.
Investigators want to speak with Tamerlan’s wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, who converted to Islam after she met her future husband at a nightclub. She dropped out of college, got married and had a baby three years ago.
Her lawyer told The Associated Press that he was trying to work out an interview. He said his client worked up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tamerlan watched their daughter. He said she did not suspect he was plotting something.
He said she last saw her husband at home on Thursday morning, hours before he and his younger brother allegedly executed a campus police officer, carjacked an SUV and led police on a wild bomb-tossing chase that ended in a 200-bullet gunbattle.