I’d like to tell you where things stand as of noon ET but no one seems quite sure. Police were on the lookout for a Honda with Massachusetts plates, suggesting that Tsarnaev’s on the run, but the car’s now been recovered. Meanwhile, I keep seeing tidbits on Twitter suggesting he might be holed up somewhere with the cops outside, possibly with a suicide vest on. (What does this mean, for instance?) There was at least one report within the past two hours that the cops are looking for two suspects. Current status: Unclear. Lots of updates coming, needless to say.
While we wait for news, here’s a half-assed theory to chew on: These guys weren’t trained by professionals overseas, because no well-trained terrorist would be so stupid as to rob a convenience store in full view of surveillance cameras on the very day that their photos have been released to the media. If you’re planning a getaway after the bombing, you pile up your cash beforehand so that you’re ready to leave after the attack. And if they’re part of a group (and there are theories to that effect kicking around right now in the media), why wasn’t someone bankrolling them in the first place? For that matter, why’d they tell the driver of the car they hijacked that they were the bombers? He might not have recognized them until later if they had kept quiet, leaving them time to get away. But then, it’s also odd that they didn’t kill him right away; obviously they have no compunction about killing children and cops. Very strange.
One other question: How’d Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get away last night if Tamerlan Tsarnaev was captured at the scene of the shootout? Did the older brother get out of the car to distract the cops while the younger one drove off? I’m unclear on the tick tock.
Update: I have mixed feelings about this:
Attn: World terrorists: One whacko can shut down a metro area of 4 million people and send them cowering in fear 30 miles away.
— Michael Graham (@IAMMGraham) April 19, 2013
You don’t want people milling about in a park when there’s a guy with a suicide vest, guns, and ammo on the loose. But then, murder suspects are on the loose all the time in big cities and nothing shuts down for them, even though in theory they’re just as likely to go out in a blaze of nutty glory among a crowd. If you’re an aspiring terrorist, knowing that you can shut down a city for a day must be encouraging.
Update: I’m seeing on Twitter that someone on the police scanner said the Army’s bomb-disposal team is on the scene. The scanner’s not always right, but if it is this time, this may be why:
Per @petewilliamsnbc, police are concerned that the entire house at 410 Norfolk St may be booby-trapped.
— Mike O’Brien (@mpoindc) April 19, 2013
Update: A clue as to who the ringleader here was, and no surprise:
“The young brother was like a puppy dog following his older brother.” boxing coach of older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) April 19, 2013
According to the WSJ, one Tsarnaev brother came here with his parents in 2002, the other on his own in 2004. Either way, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been here since he was at least 10 years old. It’s probably his brother, a followed of AQ-connected Salafist preacher Feiz Mohammed, who radicalized him, but we’ll see.
Update: Second look at the brothers possibly being part of a group?
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev flew in and out of John F. Kennedy Airport last year and was out of the country for six months, and investigators said they want to know if he received any terror training while he was overseas, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Travel records obtained by NBC 4 New York show Tsarnaev left New York on Jan. 12, 2012 for Sheremetyevo, Russia. He stayed overseas and returned to JFK on July 17.
The travel documents show a photo of a bearded Tsarnaev.
For 10 years now, I’ve been reading counterterrorism stories claiming that Middle Eastern jihadis want white recruits in the west. Makes sense: They’ll blend in better. Just something to bear in mind vis-a-vis this mysterious overseas trip.
Meanwhile, NBC News is reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen last year. On September 11. But wait — Foreign Policy claims that it was Dzhokhar who became a citizen and Tamerlan who in the process. They also say that Dzhokhar was the one who came here in 2002, meaning he’s been a U.S. resident since he was eight years old.
Update: There’s a website claiming that this is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s real Twitter account. No way to know for sure yet, but the site says they’ve got confirmation from one of Tsarnaev’s friends. Note the tweets on April 16 especially.
Update: Boston is, truly, in total lockdown.
Update: If you missed it last night, read how Jeff Bauman — the man in the wheelchair with his legs blown off in that horribly gruesome post-blast photo — helped the feds catch Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Just before 3 p.m. on April 15, Bauman was waiting among the crowd for his girlfriend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt looked at Jeff, 27, and dropped a bag at his feet, his brother, Chris Bauman, said in an interview.
Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded, tearing Jeff’s legs apart. A picture of him in a wheelchair, bloodied and ashen, was broadcast around the world as he was rushed to Boston Medical Center. He lost both legs below the knee.
“He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,’” Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview.
Update: What exactly was the plan here after the bombing? The Tsarnaevs had two days to skip town and try to leave the country. They didn’t. They could have claimed responsibility publicly on behalf of themselves or some movement. They didn’t. They could have killed a bunch more people knowing that the cops would be at their door anyway sooner or later. They didn’t. It seems like they didn’t want to be caught, but neither did they really want to escape. I don’t get it.
Update: Not sure what to make of this tweet at the alleged Tsarnaev account. Spring break for UMass-Dartmouth did begin on March 16, but how was spring break on this guy’s mind less than a month before the bombing? Just how belatedly was this bomb plot hatched? As of March 25, he was still doing homework. Not sure this is the right account. Then again, this one from April 8 is interesting.
Update: A plea to Boston at the Volokh Conspiracy not to let terrorists hold the city hostage:
Two Chechen Islamist terrorists have succeeded in turning Boston, America’s cradle of liberty, into a prison. Just when we had gotten used to obscene lines and searches at airports as the price we pay for safety, the lockdown of Boston illustrates the extent to which civil liberties are at stake in the war on terror. Since 9/11, there has been an ongoing debate about the protection of the rights of suspected terrorists. But today’s events show that its is not just the civil liberties of terrorists at stake, but also those of millions of innocent civilians.
If Boston is “closed” for just six hours, that is 175000 man days of functional house arrest; roughly as many as would be required to keep everyone in Guantanamo confined for a year or two. No doubt the police overreaction will be severely criticized in coming days, but largely on policy grounds, not civil rights grounds.
Update: Via Newsweek, a possible answer to my question of why the Tsarnaevs didn’t kill any more people: Maybe they were planning to. And maybe they weren’t “lone wolves.”
The trail of the Tsarnaevs seems, for the moment, to remain one of lone wolves. But counterterror operatives see details that suggest a wider organization may yet be discovered. Most telling: the sheer firepower the Tsarnaevs were able to bring to bear in their shootout with police. They appeared to have several unused bombs. And because terrorists learn from each other’s actions, some counterterror analysts are speculating that they may have planned a bigger operation at the marathon, or perhaps to come. One possible example is the bloody Mumbai attack in 2008, carried out by a handful of men, which killed 164 people. “These are ‘wise guys,’” said the veteran counterterror official. “These are intelligent individuals who thought they could outsmart everybody and get away with it. They didn’t want to die. But they prepared a lot of stuff.”
This doesn’t mean al Qaeda played no role: on the question of whether the lone wolves had domestic or international grievances, the intelligence official thought it likely that they were “inspired” by al Qaeda’s ferociously anti-American ideology, which paints the United States, essentially, as the root of all evil.
Update: I missed this earlier, but according to one of the doctors at the hospital, “There were signs of more than just gunshot wounds” on Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he arrived. Presumably that means he blew himself up, but in that case, how was there enough left to try to revive him in the ER?
Update: I’m not posting them, but photos of what looks like a dead Tamerlan Tsarnaev are already floating around the ‘Net.
Update: How intense is local security?
— Michael Danubio (@mdanubio4) April 19, 2013
Update: And just like that, CT PD says the car may have been recovered.
Update: How long was the plot in the works? Here’s something from the alleged Twitter account dated more than a year ago:
Last year, the Boston bomber wrote “a decade in america already, I want out” –> twitter.com/JonHenke/statu…
— Jon Henke (@JonHenke) April 19, 2013
Update: Via a reader tip, here’s local news interviewing a mechanic who said he worked recently on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s car. When Tsarnaev dropped it off for repairs two weeks ago, his behavior was normal. When he came by Tuesday, a day after the bombing, to pick it up: “Very, very nervous.” Tsarnaev also wanted his car back immediately, even though the mechanic hadn’t replaced the bumper and tail lights yet. Maybe that’s why the brothers hung around Boston — they wanted to leave town but couldn’t drive the car in that condition without getting pulled over. So they lied low for a few days to figure out what to do, then panicked yesterday after the photos were released and carjacked someone to try to get away.
One thing I don’t get, though: The FBI was whispering that it had surveillance footage on Wednesday. The brothers knew it was going to come out soon. Why not carjack someone on Wednesday night instead?
Update: Some of Rand Paul’s critics laughed at the hypothetical he emphasized in his filibuster last month but, well, here we are:
Uh, can someone ask Holder if he considers Tsarnaevan American citizen actively plotting with al Qaeda or its affiliates? Seems relevant.
— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterNRO) April 19, 2013
Update: Random thought: If this degenerate starts tweeting again in the middle of all this, social media will melt down.
Update: It’s no mystery how the photo of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the morgue leaked. One word: Catharsis.
Seeing a photo of one of the Marathon bombing suspects dead was cathartic, said one law enforcement official who saw the picture.
Passing it around was a rare chance “to revel” while other officers searched for Tsarnaev’s brother, Dzhokhar the official said. “Mission accomplished. We’re halfway there. Justice is served.”
Boston police officers have been working 12-hour shifts since Monday and many were kept well past the end of their shift Friday morning after the chaos broke out Thursday night.
Another quote from the Globe, per Tsarnaev going down fighting: “You can rest assured the cops are looking for a fight right now.”
Update: Unreal if true:
— Anthony Mason (@AnthonyMasonCBS) April 19, 2013
Suspect #2 talked to friend for 10 mins in his dorm room at UMass Dartmouth y’day. Later drove off saying he had “things to do.” @cbsnews
— Anthony Mason (@AnthonyMasonCBS) April 19, 2013
He was in his dorm room? When the feds were promising that morning to release surveillance video of the bombers later that day?
Here’s video of another friend of Tsarnaev’s who said he saw the picture yesterday and, I guess, either e-mailed or texted him to say, essentially, “Watch out, people might think you’re the bomber.” Sounds like Tsarnaev didn’t respond.
Update: The best tick-tock I’ve seen of exactly what happened last night is this one from WBZ. Allegedly, the brothers stole two cars, a Honda and a Mercedes; eventually they both ended up in the latter car and the cops caught up to them. Eventually they lost control of the car and crashed it. That’s when the gunfight started and that’s when Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot, in the process of tossing some sort of bomb at the cops. Dzhokhar jumped back in the Mercedes to get away, ended up driving over his brother, and finally crashed the car again in Watertown, at which point he apparently escaped on foot. How far could he have gotten realistically with every cop in Boston looking for him?
The officer who was killed wasn’t killed during the shootout, by the way. He was ambushed and murdered in cold blood:
At 10:30 p.m. MIT campus police officer Sean Collier was found shot multiple times in his car in the area of Vassar and Main streets. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where he died.
According to WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve, the brothers ambushed Collier, shot him five or six times and once in the head. Collier never drew his weapon. His gun was found in his holster. Five 9 mm shells were found at the scene.
Update: You know what? There’s no reason for me not to give you the photo of degenerate number one on the slab except that it might make people with weak stomachs queasy. If you’re one of those people, don’t click the following Reddit link. If you aren’t, have at it. And yes, per the descriptions given by cops to the Boston Globe and TMZ, that’s definitely him.
Update: Can’t vouch for the authenticity of what follows, but if someone wanted to make up a story about the Tsarnaevs today to get attention, it’d probably be more sensational than this. (“Zubeidat” is the Tsarnaevs’ mother.) Evidence of recent radicalization in the family?
During this time first one daughter and then another were set up in arranged marriages, and started having kids. This was something I found slightly disturbing, as one was just my age (18-19) and didn’t seem to be happily married. Within two years that daughter was beaten badly and eventually filed for divorce, something which was at first against her mother’s wishes. Later Zubeidat said she had accepted it because it was an unhappy marriage. He daughter then moved back into the house with her child. Her younger son, Dzhokar, was most often in the room or the room next door looking after his sister’s child while I was getting my facial. There were usually issues with parking on her crowded Cambridge Street. Sometimes she would have Dzhokar go down to the street to put the visitor parking pass into my car window (Yes, I gave him my car keys). Once he moved my car, which made me nervous as the street was so crowded and parking spots so small. In 2010-11, there was a day when Dzhokar wasn’t home, so Zubeidat took the parking pass out to the street for me. I noticed that she first put on a burka before going outside. She had never worn a burka while working at the spa and I was really surprised.
Between 2008 and 2012 I got to know her pretty well. During those 2-3 hours I spent a lot of time asking her about her personal life and her family. (I’m a writer and tend to ask people exhaustive questions about their personal lives, especially as interesting a character as this.) The burka shouldn’t have surprised me so much, because she had become increasingly religious while I was in college. She often mentioned Allah, and the lessons of the Koran. “Allah will reward him,” she said once about my brother, when I told her that my brother and mom were close, and that I thought my brother would take care of my mom later in life. She started to refuse to see boys that had gone through puberty, as she had consulted a religious figure and he had told her it was sacrilegious. She was often fasting. She told me that she had cried for days when her oldest son, Tamerlan, told her that he wanted to move out, going against her culture’s tradition of the son staying in the house with the mother until marriage. She started saying things like, “Don’t worry, there aren’t men in the house today,” when I asked if I could use the bathroom, which I thought was kind of funny at the time, since I didn’t mind if there were men in the apartment or not.
Read on for Zubeidat’s familiarity with 9/11 conspiracy theories, something you’ll also find in the archives of Dzhokhar’s alleged Twitter account. (Nothing unusual about terrorists and their supporters dismissing 9/11 as a preposterous false-flag operation while they’re busy clamoring for terror attacks against America.) She also supposedly said that her husband is crazy — a claim that appears to be true — which adds an extra dimension to all this. Did the abundance of … eccentricity in the family contribute to the Tsarnaev brothers’ descent into degeneracy?