Indictment: Boston Marathon suspect downloaded bomb-making instructions, jihad literature

  • Article by: DENISE LAVOIE , Associated Press
  • Updated: June 27, 2013 - 9:50 PM
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Dzhokar Tsarnaev, left, and his brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

BOSTON — Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev downloaded bomb-making instructions from an al-Qaida magazine, gathered online material on Islamic jihad and martyrdom and later scrawled anti-American messages inside the boat where he lay wounded, a federal indictment charged Thursday.

The 30-count indictment contains the bombing charges, punishable by the death penalty, that were brought in April against the 19-year-old Tsarnaev, including use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

It also contains many new charges covering the slaying of an MIT police officer and the carjacking of a motorist during the getaway attempt that left Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, dead.

"Tamerlan Tsarnaev's justice will be in the next world, but for his brother, accountability will begin right here in the district of Massachusetts," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, whose jurisdiction includes Boston, said at a news conference with federal prosecutors.

The indictment provides one of the most detailed public explanations to date of the brothers' alleged motive — Islamic extremism — and the role the Internet may have played in influencing them.

Three people were killed and more than 260 wounded by the two pressure-cooker bombs that went off near the finish line of the marathon on April 15.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured four days later, hiding in a boat parked in a backyard in Watertown, just west of Boston.

According to the indictment, he scrawled messages on the inside of the vessel that said, among other things, "The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians," ''I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished" and "We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all."

The Tsarnaev brothers had roots in the turbulent Russian regions of Dagestan and Chechnya, which have become recruiting grounds for Muslim extremists. They had been living in the U.S. about a decade.

But the indictment made no mention of any larger conspiracy beyond the brothers and no reference to any direct overseas contacts with extremists. Instead, the indictment suggests the Internet played an important role in the suspects' radicalization.

Before the attack, according to the indictment, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev downloaded onto his computer the summer 2010 issue of Inspire, an online English-language magazine published by al-Qaida. The issue detailed how to make bombs from pressure cookers, explosive powder extracted from fireworks and lethal shrapnel.

He also downloaded extremist Muslim literature, including "Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation After Imam," which advocates "violence designed to terrorize the perceived enemies of Islam," the indictment said.

Another tract downloaded included a foreword by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American propagandist for al-Qaida who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of Massachusetts said Attorney General Eric Holder will decide whether to pursue the death penalty against Tsarnaev, who will be arraigned on July 10. Some of Tsarnaev's relatives have insisted he's not guilty, and his mother has said the allegations against him and his brother are lies.

The indictment assembled and confirmed details of the case that have been widely reported over the past two months and added new pieces of information.

For example, it corroborated reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought 48 mortar shells from a Seabrook, N.H., fireworks store. It also disclosed that he used the Internet to order electronic components that could be used in making bombs.

The papers detail how the brothers then allegedly placed knapsacks containing shrapnel-packed bombs near the finish line of the 26.2-mile race.

The court papers also corroborated reports by authorities that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev contributed to his brother's death by accidentally running him over with a stolen vehicle during a shootout and police chase.

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