Report: Boston Bombers Planned to Detonate Remaining Explosives in Times Square

Posted: Apr 25, 2013 3:56 PM

The Tsarnaev's were captured and killed before they had the chance to inflict more death and destruction on innocents, but wreaking havoc at the Boston Marathon didn't quite quench the Chechen brothers' thirst for American blood:

The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect has told investigators that he and his brother discussed detonating the rest of their explosives in Times Square, senior law enforcement officials told NBC News on Thursday. The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, initially told investigators that they planned to go to New York to party after the Boston attack, one source said. The New York police commissioner also gave this account Wednesday. Under subsequent questioning, the officials said, Tsarnaev said that the brothers had discussed a follow-up attack on Times Square.

As we reported earlier in the week, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been cooperating with authorities --- until, that is, he was read his Miranda rights.  Then he shut up:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was questioned for 16 hours by authorities before being read his Miranda rights, the AP reports today. Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old college student, confessed his role in the crime during the questioning in his hospital room, but that confession may not be admissible in court. Once he was advised of his right to seek counsel and remain silent by a representative from the U.S. attorney's office, the suspect stopped talking. Police are allowed to question suspects without first Mirandizing them, but then their statements are not admissible in court. If police ask questions that seek to uncover future threats to the public, something called the "public safety exception" provides a loophole to this rule. So in Tsarnaev's case, if they had asked him if he knew of any planned attacks, or whether there were any bombs planted around Boston, his answers would theoretically be OK to use in a case against him. Authorities questioned both the Christmas Day "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—for 50 minutes—and the attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad without first reading them their Miranda rights using the public safety exception.  

Sixteen hours is better than 50 minutes, but Abdulmutallab was a foreign national.  He should have been a clear-cut enemy combatant, entitled to few constitutional rights.  That he was Mirandized at all, let alone so quickly, remains an outrage.  Mr. Tsarnaev's case is more sensitive because the perpetrator (technically still a "suspect") is a US citizen.  Why the DOJ chose to Mirandize him mid-interrogation, though, is a mystery -- and the FBI is said to be furious:

The FBI filed a federal criminal complaint against the 19-year-old on Sunday, and federal District Court Judge Marianne Bowler arrived at the hospital where he is being treated to preside over his initial hearing Monday, when she read him his Miranda rights. [FBI officials told The Associated Press Wednesday that Tsarnaev acknowledged to investigators his role in the attacks before he was advised of his constitutional rights. He reportedly said he was only recently recruited by his brother to be part of the attack.] But Fox News' sources say there was confusion about Bowler's timing, with some voicing concerns that investigators were not given enough time to question Dzhokhar under the "public safety exception" invoked by the Justice Department. Two officials with knowledge of the FBI briefing on Capitol Hill said the FBI was against stopping the investigators' questioning and was stunned that the judge, Justice Department prosecutors and public defenders showed up, feeling valuable intelligence may have been sacrificed as a result. The FBI had been questioning Tsarnaev for 16 hours before the judge called a start to the court proceeding, officials familiar with the Capitol Hill briefing told Fox News. Moreover, the FBI informed lawmakers that the suspect had been providing valuable intelligence, but stopped talking once the magistrate judge read him his rights.  

Terrific.  I'll leave you with a round-up of additional developments from the investigation:

(1) The Tsarnaev's mother is still in major denial, even though her surviving son has confessed to his role in the bombings.  Hold the tears; she may have known about her deceased son's radicalism for years.

(2) How many red flags did US authorities need?  The Tsarnaev's Boston mosque has ties to radicals, Russian officials warned their American counterparts "repeatedly" about Tamerlan -- who was placed on a CIA watch list, DHS knew Tamelan was visiting Chechnya last year, and the Tsarnaev's online trail was rife with jihadist propaganda.

(3) The Tsarnaev brothers were motivated by opposition to American foreign policy and allegedly picked up the craft bomb-making via Al-Qaeda's "magazine," Inspire

(4) On the night of their huge shootout with police, the terrorists car-jacked a vehicle at gunpoint.  It had a "Coexist" bumper sticker on it.  Really.

(5) Was Mrs. Tamerlan Tsarnaev involved in the plot?  Investigators would like to know.   It now appears that the bombs themselves were more sophisticated than initially thought, perhaps suggesting fairly extensive training.

(6) Quote of the month, regarding the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev: "[H]e was angry that the world pictures Islam as a violent religion."  Derp.