The two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by their religious faith but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups, US officials said Monday after interrogating the severely wounded younger man. He was charged with federal crimes that could bring the death penalty.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. He was accused of joining with his older brother, Tamerlan — now dead — in setting off the pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.
The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the US for about a decade, practiced Islam.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev communicated with his interrogators in writing, a less-than-ideal format that precluded the type of detailed back-and-forth crucial to establishing the facts, said one of two officials who recounted the questioning. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss the investigation.
The two officials said the preliminary evidence from an interrogation suggests the Tsarnaev brothers were driven by religion but had no ties to Islamic terrorist organizations.
At the same time, they cautioned that they were still trying to verify what they were told by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and were looking at such things as his telephone and online communications and his associations with others.
The criminal complaint containing the charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shed no light on the motive.
But it gave a detailed sequence of events and cited surveillance-camera images of him dropping off a knapsack with one of the bombs and using a cellphone, perhaps to coordinate or detonate the blasts.
The Massachusetts college student was listed in serious but stable condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries. His 26-year-old brother died last week in a fierce gunbattle with police.
“Although our investigation is ongoing, today's charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston and for our country,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
The charges carry the death penalty or up to life in prison.