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Boston Bombing Suspect Communicating; Did Tsarnaev Brothers Have Help?; Alleged Plot to Attack Train in Canada

Aired April 23, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, major developments in the Boston marathon bombings. The surviving suspect answering questions in the hospital about his older brother's role, their motive and what if any terror groups backed their attack.

Plus, the CNN exclusive. A first-hand account of one suspect's last stand from the SWAT team that took him down.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And a developing story an alleged plot to attack a passenger train between Canada and the United States. And this morning, the suspects due in court.

Good morning to you. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin in New York.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman, live in Boston. It is Tuesday, April 23rd. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We have big developments overnight in the Boston bombing investigation. The suspect is communicating and the city he and his brother are charged with terrorizing is prepared to take back its street today.

This is the latest. A government source tells CNN's Jake Tapper that suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has informed law enforcement that his older brother Tamerlan, was the driving force between last week's terror attack. No foreign terrorist groups were involved and that the motivation of the bombing was to defend Islam.

All of these claims must now be verified by investigators. One other piece of news overnight. Residents, and people who work on Boylston Street, which is the crime scene, where the bombings took place, right behind me, residents and people who work there, will be allowed back today. It may be another day before the general public is allowed back in that area.

We're going to start our coverage with Miguel Marquez who is outside Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center here in Boston where the suspect remains being treated.

Good morning, Miguel.


He is being treated here. There's little change in his condition overnight and investigators continue to occasionally speak with him.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in his hospital bed, charged with a use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was read his rights, has a lawyer and will be tried as any other citizen, not as an enemy combat.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have a long history here of successfully prosecuting terrorists and bringing them to justice, and the president fully believes that that process will work in this case.

MARQUEZ: Despite his injuries including a bullet wound to a neck, sedated on a ventilator and restrained, Tsarnaev can still nod his head. The judge ruling he was alert and able to respond to the charges when asked if he can afford a lawyer, Dzhokhar whispered "no".

In the criminal complaint investigators built a minute by minute account of the Tsarnaev brothers as they moved through the crowd of the marathon. At one point, Dzhokhar had his phone to the ear, maybe a ruse, seconds later the first bomb.

Only then does he begin to walk away from the bag he left amid the crowd. Ten seconds later, the second bomb is detonated.

We are also learning about his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. In 2009, he was arrested for domestic assault after his girlfriend said he beat her up. Last year, he openly argued with a preacher at a mosque he sometimes attended, telling him that holiday celebrations were not allowed by Islam. Again, last January, he disrupted a sermon about Martin Luther King, calling the civil rights leader a nonbeliever.

The revelations and charges just as the city is struggling to recover a moment of silence, marking one week since the attack -- from the Oval Office and around the country a solemn tribute.

(on camera): This is outside (INAUDIBLE) here in the Boston area, most every spot in the city is silent.

(voice-over): Another step toward normal, Boylston Street turned over by federal investigators to the city of Boston in the sign of investigation's intensity, a tree possibly touched by Dzhokhar removed, taken as evidence. And photos of Dzhokhar withdrawing money from an ATM after a carjacking and a murder of MIT Officer Sean Collier.

This as the victims continue to heal, 50 in the hospital, two still critical. For some seriously injured, hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nearly all of the patients that have lost legs are already walking the halls with physical therapists.

MARQUEZ: Still, grim reminders here just about everywhere. In Medford, the funeral for 29-year-old Krystle Campbell. The church overflowing, the grief unbearable.

Now, with Boylston reopening, that's one more step back to normal that Boston is getting, starting at 10:00 a.m. today, and over several hours, people will get back a painstaking effort to make sure things go normally as they reopen that little bit of Boston -- John.

BERMAN: Miguel, it's the first time in eight days that these people will be allowed back in their home and their offices.

Miguel Marquez at Beth Israel Hospital, thanks so much this morning.

Again, as we said it's the victims, that we want to think about and keeping our minds. We do have more information on the suspects. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have confirmed no terrorist groups involved but still, there are lingering questions, including how the brothers got their hands on guns and all those bomb-making materials.

Here's Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One week after authorities say the Tsarnaev brothers attacked Boston.

EDWARD DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: The two suspects were armed with handguns at the scene of the shootout.

STARR: But neither brother had a license for the guns. A senior U.S. official says investigators are looking at the brothers connections, to any individuals or groups that might have trained them to make explosives or supplied them with material.

And what did Russia know about the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev? An aspiring boxer. In 2011, Russia asked the FBI to look into his activities even before Tsarnaev spent six months in Russia last year.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Did he sit in his aunt and uncle's home for six months or was he doing something else? And when he came back to this country, why didn't it ring a bell with the FBI intelligence unit that he should be checked out and vetted again?

STARR: The Russians asked the U.S. to check out Tamerlan, because, quote, "his lifestyle had changed."

After coming home from Russia, his YouTube channel carried radical videos as well as names of militant leaders. As for his younger brother, the wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, controversy in Washington over what to do with him.

CARNEY: He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I strongly disagree with the Obama's administration decision to rule out enemy combatant status for the suspect. STARR (on camera): Senator Graham and others say labeling Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant just for now would allow the government to question him without an attorney present and maybe get some of those answers.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Barbara.

Now, most of us can't even begin to imagine the incredibly tense moments that led up to the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But that is exactly what these trained professionals are trained to do. SWAT team members, they know how to do this and this morning, in a CNN exclusive, the SWAT team that took Tsarnaev into custody describes those final moments to Anderson Cooper.

Let's listen.


OFFICERO JEFF CAMPBELL, MBTA TRANSIT POLICE SWAT: Let's do it. Let's do what we're trained to do. You know, this is the suspect. We're trained to go in and apprehend him.

You can see one hand is clear of any weapons, but each time he went back the other way, his hand went down inside the boat out of our view. And I know everybody here we've spoken about it, each time he did that, we had to assume he was reaching for either a weapon, a firearm or some explosive ignition device to kind of draw us in and then take us out in a suicide type manner.

He did that a couple of times as we're still approaching towards him. We got close enough that at one point where both of his hands were up because of the rocking back and forth. Both of his hands were up, we could see that there were no weapons in them. No ignition devices we broke away from the shield protective cover. And we just rushed him.

We put hands on him, grabbed him and pulled him off the boat.


BERMAN: Amazing.

Coming up at 5:30 Eastern, we're going to talk to CNN international security analyst Jim Walsh about what Tsarnaev is apparently communicating to investigators from his hospital bed. Meanwhile, there's a lot of other news going on this morning.

Let's go back to Zoraida in New York for that. Hey, Z.

SAMBOLIN: There is indeed. Good morning to you, John.

Nine minutes past the hour. Developing story this morning, an alleged plot to attack a passenger train traveling between Canada and the United States. Canadian police arrested two men who will appear in court this morning. Police also say the planned attack was real but that the public was never in danger. They last also say the suspects had support from al Qaeda in Iran.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Toronto for us this morning. Good morning to you, Ted. What is the very latest here in this investigation?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida. The latest is that these two suspects will be appearing in a Toronto court later this morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Chiheb Esseghaier, 30-year-old, was brought here from Montreal. He will join 35-year-old Raed Jaser, who is working out of Toronto, according to Canadian authorities.

Authorities say they had these two under surveillance for a number of months and made the arrest yesterday. They did not say why they made the arrest at that time, but they did, as you mentioned, make a point to tell the public that these two were never close to pulling off what they were trying to pull off. However, they said they were absolutely capable of doing it. In fact, they said they were getting support from al Qaeda in Iran.


JAMES MALIZIA, RCMP FEDERAL POLICING OPERATIONS: The individuals were receiving support from al Qaeda elements located in Iran. Now, I can tell you that there is no information to indicate that these attacks were state sponsored.


ROWLANDS: Now, the Iranian government, Zoraida, is saying, absolutely -- they're vehemently denying the idea that al Qaeda could be operating out of their country. U.S. Congressman Peter King out of New York, who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism says that he believes and he was told that the attack was going to be censored on a commuter train from Canada to the United States. Authorities say they thwarted this attack before it could get going.

But, again, these two individuals will be in court here in Toronto at 10:00 Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: I think he actually said specifically New York City as well and that he was very grateful they thwarted that attack. Ted Rowlands, live for us, thank you very much.

And this just in to CNN, police are saying they have arrested two suspected al Qaeda terrorists. The pair is set to have a profile similar to the suspects in the Boston marathon bombings. Their arrest comes just days before the Madrid marathon. That event on Sunday is expected to draw 26,000 runners.

And still ahead, heavy rains and spring thaw not a good combination in the nation's midsection where there is record flooding. We're going to have a live report from hard-hit Illinois, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning.

They acted alone in defense of Islam -- at least that is the message for now. CNN has learned the marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is now communicating with investigators. Government officials tells our Jack Tapper that Tsarnaev told law enforcement that his older brother Tamerlan was the driving force behind last Monday's attack. He also said that no foreign terror groups were involved and motivation was to defend Islam from attack.

Tsarnaev wounded and unable to talk in a hospital that is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious of destruction of the property. Those are counts that could bring him the death penalty.

Meantime, residents that work on Boylston Street which is right behind me, they will be allowed back in today and maybe another day or so, before the general public is allowed back in -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, John.

There is more rain and snow in today's forecast. It will only add to the record flooding that is taking place. This is all across the Midwest. The Grand River is now more than two feet over flood stage. This is Grand Rapids, Michigan. In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn has declared disaster areas in more than 40 counties.

CNN's Jim Spellman is live in Spring Bay, Illinois, where the Illinois River has been over flowing into the streets since Sunday.

I was reading that the water levels actually grew by 13 feet in five days for the folks there. What's the situation now?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, it's now close to 16 feet over this Illinois River usually sits.

Yes, Zoraida, the good news is we haven't yet heard widespread reports of damage but small riverside communities like this one, Spring Bay are being hit hard by these floodwaters. Watch.


SPELLMAN (voice-over): Last minute preps in Spring Bay, Illinois, as floodwaters inundates this riverside community.

(on camera): Where is your home?

STARLYNN WINCHELL, FLOOD VICTIM: My home is the gray and white mobile home with the black shutters on it.

SPELLMAN: You can't get to your home by foot now?


SPELLMAN: Have you ever seen this much water come up here?




SPELLMAN (voice-over): Starlynn Winchell's (ph) home, along with about 40 others in this trailer community, began to flood Sunday and the water has continued to rise.

WINCHELL: Yesterday, I cried all day.

SPELLMAN (on camera): And today?

WINCHELL: Today, I'm not crying yet, but the more I see that water come up, the more I'll cry.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): The Red Cross is on site assessing the area as the fire chief prepares for the worst.

(on camera): This is evacuation order?

CHIEF DENNIS PERRY, SPRING BAY FIRE DEPT: This is the evacuation notice.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): Mandatory evacuations for residents in low- lying areas. His biggest fear: people ignoring the order and getting trapped in hard to reach parts of the community.

PERRY: Some of these places I simply can't get to, and that's going to be a real big disadvantage for us.

SPELLMAN: Jared Teegarden just moved to Spring Bay a few months ago.

JARED TEEGARDEN, HOMEOWNER: Welcome to the neighborhood.

SPELLMAN: As the river began to flood, he built this homemade levee from four dump trucks full of sand. So far, it's working.

TEEGARDEN: We're probably four feet of water if not. So, we're doing all right. Better than most.

SPELLMAN: His neighbor, Brad Lohman, among those not doing as well.

BRAD LOHMAN, BAR OWNER: It's kind of emotional to kind of see this situation. You know, it's bad deal.

SPELLMAN: He's worked at this bar, Beamer's (ph) Village Inn, since he was a teenager, eventually buying it. He says repairs would total more than $50,000.

Will he reopen?

LOHMAN: No, I don't think so. It's going to be a total loss. I really do.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SPELLMAN: We believe that Illinois River here in Spring Bay is cresting just about now. But fire chief here tells us it will be a week and a half before all this water drains back to the river and they can really begin getting back to normal -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: What a really incredibly difficult situation.

Jim Spellman, reporting live for us -- thank you very much.

So, let go to Jennifer Delgado. She is standing by in the CNN weather center. Earlier, I was saying snow and more rain. Is that for the Midwestern section of the United States?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, definitely more rain. It looks like we could see a little flurry action moving into Chicago.

But the rain is the real concern, Zoraida. You can see in the areas in green. These are areas that are dealing with flood warnings out there from Wisconsin, as well as to Michigan down to Missouri, of course, Illinois where Jim Spellman is.

Now, across parts of Illinois River, they are dealing with major flooding. And as we look at some of these locations, for the Illinois river at Peoria, current states at 29.34. That is that major level is expected to stay that way. It looks like through potentially Thursday. So, it's going to be slow to receive, and even for other areas like right along the Mississippi river. Right now, we started off the morning with very light rain out there with more that is heading in that direction.

And, as we go through the next 24 hours, some parts could pick up about an inch or an inch and a quarter of rainfall. So, that means it's going to take a little bit longer for some of these river levels to recede as that frontal system makes its way in from west to east. As we track through Tuesday at 8:00, we're talking about heavy rainfall, especially across parts of central Illinois, as well as into Indiana.

On a wider view, yes, more snow is still in the forecast for areas, including up towards north and as I said, we could see some snow flurries moving into parts of Chicago but heavier snow certainly going to be out in the four corners.

Zoraida, of course, we'll be watching this. But they certainly don't need any more rain across that region.

SAMBOLIN: No, and these blustery temperatures really awful as well. Jennifer, thank you. Appreciate it.

DELGADO: Thank you, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Coming up, sales are hot for Boston marathon merchandise. But if you want to help the cause, you have to be careful what you buy. We'll explain, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Good morning to you. Twenty-four minutes past the hour. And we are minding your business this morning.

Stocks posted solid gains Monday, recovering some of last week's losses. We are happy to report, Christine. The big question, will we see more gains?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I don't know. At this point, it looks like things are going to pull back a little bit because futures are lower, there was a big drop in Asian markets. There was a weak report on manufacturing in China.

But look at where we stand for the year.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I know. Right.

ROMANS: Zoraida is like she's the optimist.


ROMANS: She's always like to look at the bright side.

So, let me show you.

SAMBOLIN: We've had a lot of bad news. A little bit of good news. Dow up 11 percent, NASDAQ 7 percent, the S&P up almost 10 percent. So, that's what's been happening to your money so far this year.

Stocks aren't the only thing Americans have been buying. Boston marathon merchandise flying off the shelf. Not all of the items help the victims. So, I'm going to tell you how to be careful here.

Now, I'm going to show this one. This may be the hottest t-shirt in the country right now. Adidas made the official apparel for the Boston marathon. And after the bombings, they made these. "Boston Stands as One". A hundred percent of the profits go to One Fund Boston. Adidas has raised 1 million bucks from the sales. You can buy one at

And the One Fund overall has reportedly tapped $10 million in donations already.

What's not selling, Nike has pulled some shirts that say "Boston massacre" across the front. They pulled those out of the factory stores. They were made to commemorate the 1978 playoff series between the Red Sox and New York Yankees. They're pulling those, you know, just because it's not a good tone to be setting right now.

There's also a ton of merchandise selling on eBay, but a few manufacturers are speaking out against those eBay sales. Some sellers claim the proceeds will go to certain funds. You know, it's really hard to know for sure. A group of people, by the way, that definitely need your business, store and restaurant owners on Boylston Street. They're getting back into their businesses today.

Boston's mayor is opening the area block by block this afternoon. It's been remained closed to the public for some time. But if you get a bite to eat -- get a bite to eat if you can on Boylston Street as soon as you are able. That's what I say.

SAMBOLIN: Such a beautiful area, right?

So that the One Fund Boston, does that go directly to the victims?

ROMANS: And they're saying it's going directly to the fund for the victims.

SAMBOLIN: That's fantastic.

ROMANS: But check it out, be careful, you know? I've warned about this. After every kind of disaster, we warn about this. There are always people who want to reach into your pocket. Just be -- your generosity is so wonderful. Be careful with your generosity.

SAMBOLIN: There are bad people out there that, you know, take advantage of situations like this.

Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

Next on EARLY START, a survivor speaks out.



ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, INJURED IN BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS: Yes, I'm angry. I'm not angry 100 percent of the time but I'm angry.


SAMBOLIN: That is an amazing woman. We'll have more from a dance instructor who lost her foot and part of her leg in the Boston marathon bombings. It is a CNN exclusive.