Kazakhstan: Two students held after Tsarnaev arrest may have known suspects

Lost in the shuffle over the last few days has been the story of the two students re-arrested in New Bedford after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday.  Originally detained in their apartment in the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, the FBI and DHS left shortly after Tsarnaev’s capture.  They returned a few hours later, however, this time to arrest two men as a consular vehicle from a then-undisclosed nation picked up two women at the same time.


Late yesterday, the FBI and DHS announced that the two Kazakhs had been arrested for visa violations, but that update came only after thoroughly searching their apartment wearing hazmat suits:

Two foreign students arrested Saturday in New Bedford for allegedly violating their student visas are from Kazakhstan and may have known the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, according to a statement from the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

FBI and Homeland Security agents wearing hazmat suits descended on the students’ neighborhood on Monday and searched their apartment, according to media reports in New Bedford.

Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said US immigration officials discovered the students while investigating the Tsarnaev brothers’ “possible links and contacts,” particularly those who studied with them. The students – two men — are being held in Boston, according to the ministry and a US official.

“During the investigation, it was revealed that two students from Kazakhstan had violated the U.S. visa regime in the course of their studies. They were consequently arrested until the full clarification of the circumstances is achieved,” the ministry said in a statement.

ABC 6 in Rhode Island also picked up on the statement from Kazakhstan last night:

Two foreign nationals arrested Saturday on immigration violations are from Kazakhstan and may have known the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, according to a statement released Monday by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The foreign ministry said U.S. authorities came across the students while searching for “possible links and contacts” to bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-KHAR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv). The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth student was charged Monday in the attack.


If you’re wondering about the hazmat suits, consider what the FBI found when searching Dzhokhar’s dorm room.  Allahpundit mentioned it last night, but it’s worth including here for a little context:

FBI agents found a “large pyrotechnic” in Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room at UMass Dartmouth Sunday, according to the federal court records made public Monday.

Tsarnaev, 19, is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction at the April 15 marathon, killing three and wounding 180, records show.

Investigators found the device along with a white hat and black jacket fitting “the same general appearance” of clothes that a man identified as Tsarnaev was seen wearing in security camera footage from the day of the bombings. Agents also found BBs in the room, the court complaint said. …

The news of the items in Tsarnaev’s dorm room added to the already tense atmosphere on campus Monday as students returned to class for the first time since Friday’s chaotic evacuation. Officials closed the school after discovering Tsarnaev was enrolled there. National media outlets have been swarming the university since.

“It wasn’t scary until I heard that,” Pine Dale resident Derek Juozaitis, of Worcester, referring to the items found in the dorm room. “He took all of our lives into jeopardy,” said Juozaitis, reached by phone Monday night.

Other students called the news “surreal,” expressing shock that Tsarnaev possibly stored explosive components only feet from where they live.


This may well be a lead that goes nowhere, but it’s still a related arrest in the case.  The media seems disinterested in this thread except for local news outlets and the Boston Globe, whose comprehensive coverage has been both understandable and admirable.  The fact that the Kazakhstan government offered that statement is rather intriguing, too.  These men were probably hanging with the wrong crowd at the wrong place and the wrong time, but we will keep an eye on this thread for any further developments.

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