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Boston bombing suspect communicates to authorities through writing

Posted: April 23, 2013 12:46 p.m.
Updated: April 23, 2013 12:46 p.m.

This undated photo provided by the vkontakte website shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His brother, Tamerlan, was killed during a violent police chase. The two ethnic Chechen brothers came from Dagestan, a Russian republic bordering the province of Chechnya.

 

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an ardent reader of jihadist websites and extremist propaganda, U.S. officials said Tuesday, adding another piece to the body of evidence they say suggests the two brothers were motivated by an anti-American, radical version of Islam.

As he lay in his hospital bed with a gunshot wound to the throat, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged on Monday with carrying out the bombing with his older brother, who died last week in a gunbattle. Tsarnaev could get the death penalty.

Interrogators questioned him at the hospital, letting him write down his replies, and his answers led them to believe he and his brother were motivated by religious extremism but appeared to have no major terrorist group connections, said U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

However, the written communication precluded back-and-forth exchanges often crucial to establishing key facts, officials said. They warned that they were still trying to verify what Tsarnaev told them and were poring over his telephone and online communications.

On Tuesday, two officials said the older brother frequently looked at extremist sites, including Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate. The magazine has endorsed lone-wolf terror attacks.

Also Tuesday, family, friends and colleagues gathered to pay their final respects to Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who authorities say was ambushed and killed by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. And a private funeral was held for 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest of the three people killed in the bombing. In a statement, the boy's family called it "the most difficult week of our lives."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose condition was upgraded Tuesday from serious to fair, was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth student was accused of joining with his brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 260 on April 15.

The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the U.S. for about a decade.

The next step in the legal process against Tsarnaev is likely to be an indictment, to which federal prosecutors could add new charges. State prosecutors have said they expect to charge Tsarnaev separately in the killing of the MIT officer.

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