Boston bombers self-radicalised by Afghanistan, Iraq wars

Washington, April 24 (IANS) The Boston Marathon bombing suspect has claimed that he and his brother were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs and the two wars that the US fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, but were not acting with known terrorist groups.

Seriously injured surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told investigators from his hospital bed that neither he now nor his brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police, had any contact with terrorist groups overseas, according to various media reports.

Communicating with investigators by writing and nodding, Tsarnaev has told investigators the brothers were self-radicalised via the Internet, CNN reported citing a US government official.

Investigators also are looking into whether the online English-language magazine Inspire, put out by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was used for instruction on how to make the pressure cooker bombs, it said.

The twin blasts just before the finish line of the April 15 race killed three people and wounded more than 260, according to the latest count.

The New York Times citing law enforcement officials said the investigation into the bombings is still in its earliest stages, and federal authorities were still in the process of corroborating some of the admissions made by the surviving suspect.

But some of Tsarnaev’s statements suggested that the two brothers could represent the kind of emerging threat that federal authorities have long feared: angry and alienated young men, apparently self-trained and unaffiliated with any particular terrorist group, able to use the Internet to learn their lethal craft, officials cited by the Times said.

Now investigators will try to check Tsarnaev’s statements as they conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the lives of the two brothers, speaking with people who knew them and looking at everything from items they left behind in their homes, the influential US daily said.

They would also look at the younger Tsarnaev’s dorm room and the lengthy digital trail the two brothers left through their e-mails and posts on social media sites.

Investigators are still interested in a trip that the older Tsarnaev made to Dagestan and Chechnya last year, the Times said.

The brothers’ backgrounds – including family ties to Chechnya, a region where Muslim groups have fought a bloody separatist campaign against Moscow for decades – raised suspicions that the two may have been in contact with militant groups, the Washington Post said.

On a YouTube page, Tamerlan Tsarnaev posted a series of videos that appeared to demonstrate his interest in radical Islamist ideology, it noted. But officials cited by the Post said they have not seen any connection between the brothers and terrorist networks overseas.

The Post said investigators are still working to assemble a more detailed account of a six-month trip Tamerlan Tsarnaev took to Russia in 2012.

The FBI questioned the older Tsarnaev beforehand at the behest of Russian authorities who had become concerned that he was becoming radicalized, a request conveyed to officials at the US Embassy in Moscow.

US officials cited by the Post said there is no evidence so far that Tsarnaev made contact with Chechen extremists or otherwise attracted the attention of Russian authorities during his trip.

“The evidence points to the fact that they let him into the country and let him out,” a US intelligence official was quoted as saying. “They didn’t take any legal action, which they could have while he was there.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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