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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Tsarnaev Communicating; Interview with Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland; Alleged Plot To Attack Train In Canada

Aired April 23, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning.

Our STARTING POINT today -- he can barely speak of the surviving suspect in the marathon bombing, revealing key details about the attack. And who may have been involved. What Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is now telling investigators in a live report.

Also, we're learning more about the second suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, how he became radicalized and his influence on his younger brother.

Plus, we have a CNN exclusive from a woman who stood just five feet from one of the blasts and she survived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, INJURED IN BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS: A lot of debris falling, and I remember telling Adam, oh, my gosh, I'm alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And a terror plot foiled. Two men who wanted to carry out an attack on a passenger train between the U.S. and Canada, the damage they hope to inflict. We'll tell you about that in just moments.

It is Tuesday, April 23rd, and a special edition of STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: Welcome back to Boston, everyone. Just a block away, we're standing right now from the finish line of the Boston marathon, where those attacks happened more than one week ago.

The suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is speaking not necessarily with words, but CNN's Jake Tapper has learned that Tsarnaev is communicating with investigators. He is claiming that he and his big brother, Tamerlan, executed last week's attack at the marathon finish line and did it in defense of Islam.

Jake Tapper joins us this morning. And, Jake, what are law enforcement officials telling you? JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER: Well, a government official tells me that in these preliminary interviews with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he is providing details. As you say, he's not communicating with words so much, but nodding and by writing things down. But he's communicating the things that he is saying that first of all, that there were no foreign terrorist groups involved with these attacks. He's saying that they were radicalized online. By watching videos online and getting instructions and information online. And in addition according to Dzhokhar, the older brother, Tamerlan, was the driving force behind the attacks.

Now, of course, just to underline, this is what Dzhokhar is saying to investigators. Investigators know that they have to check everything out. They're not taking his word as gospel.

They want to make sure that what he's saying is true, but this is what he is saying. According to government officials I spoke with, the brothers have seen to be what we've seen before -- the self-starter, self-radicalized individuals. They seem to have been self radicalized here in the United States, and the motivating thought seems to be jihadist thought, the idea there is a political and religious motivation, that Islam is under attack, and they need to fight back. That seems to be what investigators have right now.

But just to underline once more, this is preliminary. This is from what Dzhokhar is telling them, nobody is taking Dzhokhar's word for it.

BERMAN: And the claim that he's giving, at least somehow, is that they were radicalized again online by watching videos, not any communication with any foreign terrorist element?

TAPPER: That's as of now, that's what Dzhokhar is saying. And we should say we've seen this before, this is one of the reason why the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki put up videos online. He's now -- he's now been killed by a drone strike. But that's why he did it, to radicalize individuals in different parts of the world.

And apparently some videos like that, we don't know if it's al Awlaki or not, some videos like that did, in fact, radicalize the Tsarnaev brothers, especially it seems, Tamerlan.

BERMAN: Of course, there's a lot of information that seems to be conveyed right now between Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and investigators. Jake, any indication if this happened before or after he was given his Miranda warnings?

TAPPER: I don't know as of now. I mean, I would imagine based on just what the Miranda warning is, you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney, that this probably took place before. But I do not know.

We know that this took place in a hospital room that Dzhokhar was conveying this after nods and by writing, answering questions. And again, the big points -- no foreign terrorist group involvement according to Dzhokhar. No -- the older brother Tamerlan was the one who was driving the -- their action.

And that they were self-radicalized by watching videos online and that they were jihadists, they thought they were defending Islam from what? We'll find out more what they thought they were defending from. We'll find more in the days and weeks to come.

BERMAN: And as you said, the key here is that investigators are following up on these leads. They're not taking them at their words --

TAPPER: This is what Dzhokhar is saying. This is what Dzhokhar is conveying. That's not to say anyone believes it. And investigators know that everything has to be followed up on as opposed to other previous terrorist attacks and other random attacks such as the Aurora shooter or the Tucson shooter.

These individuals were not loners. These were people who had friends. Tamerlan had a wife. Dzhokhar had friends in high school.

So, there are a lot of leads that need to be followed up on and a lot of people need to be talked to.

TAPPER: Jake Tapper, excellent reporting. Thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

We have new details this morning about how the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly pulled off their terror plot at the Boston marathon. The criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, details, step by step, really how this bombing unfolded.

So, we want to go to Miguel Marquez, who's outside Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Good morning, Miguel.

MIQUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. He is here, and he is sedated. He's on a ventilator. He's also restrained at the moment.

We have the criminal complaint has what we expect is one of many charges to come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 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 his ear, maybe a ruse. Seconds later, the first bomb.

(EXPLOSION)

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

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MARQUEZ: 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 and still.

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MARQUEZ (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.

DR. JEFFREY KALISH, DIRECTOR OF ENDOVASCULAR SURGERY: 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.

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MARQUEZ: Now, another sign that Boston is starting to get back to normal now that Boylston Street has been turned over to the city. The city has a plan now to open it up at least in a limited fashion to those who live there, and businesses, so they can get in there, and then, hopefully, to the general public very soon -- John.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Miguel.

I should tell you. We've actually seen the first groups of people going behind us to Boylston Street, right there, to go back to their homes and residences. One other interesting thing we caught a glimpse of, a glass repair truck. Maybe someone going back, again the finish line just a block and repair some of these broken windows that have to be up and down Boylston Street.

All right. Michael Marquez, our thanks to you.

There are more details coming to light this morning. Signs that may show his older Brother, when Dzhokhar's older brother, Tamerlan, was radicalized and once Dzhokhar Tsarnaev possibly began to follow his lead.

We'll get that from CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's prospective on Islam. January 18th, Friday prayers at the Islamic Society of Boston's mosque in Cambridge, a mosque leader is giving a service, extolling the virtues of the prophet Muhammad and Martin Luther King Jr.

According to mosque officials, it was too much for Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

ANWAR KAZMI, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON BOARD MEMBER: Some people said that he said something to the effect that you cannot, you know, compare or make a parallel between a prophet and a non-Muslim. Some people said that he referred to the person who was giving the sermon as a hypocrite. The adamant word is monophyte (ph).

TODD: Anwar Kazmi says the disruption was a clear violation of mosque etiquette. He says people in attendance explained that to Tamerlan Tsarnaev told him to back off. Mosque officials say it was the second time he had objected to something said at a sermon.

We pressed him. Were there any red flags that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been radicalized?

NICHOLE MOSSALAM, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON SPOKESWOMAN: Unfortunately, there were no indications and if trained specialist from the FBI were not able to see anything. You know, I'm sure you can understand how people who are merely acquainted with these individuals seeing them sporadically at prayers would not see, you know, anything of this nature as well.

TODD: Mosque officials say Dzhokhar never came to the mosque without his older brother. Friends and acquaintances tell CNN Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the leader between the two brothers. One friend saying Dzhokhar was, quote, "definitely the follower in this situation."

John Pinto co-owns a Brazilian restaurant in the Tsarnaev's neighborhood.

In recent months, he saw the brothers come in, sometimes sitting down, sometimes getting chicken and lamb for take-out. Pinto says Tamerlan Tsarnaev always walked in front of his younger brother, swaggering, looking serious and tough.

JOHN PINTO, CO-OWNER, MIDWESTERN GRILL RESTAURANT: (INAUDIBLE). I believe -- I think the big brother is the one in the command. He said, OK, let's go, we do this, we do this, we do this, whatever. This one always go on the front, and another one just getting behind him.

TODD: It may not have always been that way. Rose Schutzberg lifeguarded with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at Harvard in the spring and summer of 2011. She says this about the younger brother. ROSE SCHUTZBERG, FRIEND DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV: You know, there was an effort to sort of create some distance between himself and his brother just because they didn't see the world quite in the same way.

TODD: Neighbors gave us new information on the broader family dynamic.

(on-camera): This is the top floor apartment here on Norfolk Street in Cambridge where the Tsarnaev family lived. Neighbors say the entire family, parents, brothers, and sisters lived here together at one point. One neighbor told us he observed tension in the family when they all live together.

(voice-over): It was at this address where Tamerlan Tsarnaev was arrested in July 2009 for assaulting his girlfriend. The complaint doesn't show her name, but quotes Tamerlan Tsarnaev is saying, "Yes, I slapped her." Neighbors told us they thought the tension in the family dissipated after the parents and sisters moved out a couple of years ago.

Brian Todd, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Our thanks to Brian Todd for that.

Now, as this investigation moves forward, more details emerge about the Tsarnaev brothers. There will be congressional meetings as to what the FBI did and did not know, as well as how the brothers got their guns and explosives.

Let's bring in the Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger right now. He's the ranking Democratic on the House Intelligence Committee. He's in Baltimore this morning.

Thank you so much for joining us, Congressman. Great to see you.

REP. C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), MARYLAND: Good to be here. Sure.

BERMAN: As we said, there are these closed door meetings that you are having in Washington with members of the intelligence community and FBI. I am sure of interest will be those 2011 meetings with Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

What do you hope to learn from intelligence officials?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, the most important thing is we provide oversight to all of the intelligence agencies, including the FBI. So what we want to do is to see when the FBI investigated that the tip that came from Russia, about bomber number one, the older brother, was really cleared of what Russia was concerned about.

And we will have a classified hearing today at 5:00.

BERMAN: Now, I understand there are things you can and can't tell us. Some information is classified, other things not so much. Our Jake Tapper, reporting news overnight that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is speaking with investigators and telling us that they were radicalized here in the United States, watching online videos, that they have no contact with terrorist groups overseas.

Does that concur with what are you hearing?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, at this time, the evidence that we have in the briefings that I personally received don't show any third parties. But there is a lot more to investigate. First thing, when he went to Russia, it seemed when he came back, a lot of things had changed. And also, his younger brother's attitude started to change.

We understand that the older brother was more of a loner. But the younger brother was more social, very well-respected by his friends. So we've got to find out and we're doing that now. We're looking at it from an international point of view and from an internal point of view.

And, as more evidence comes out about how -- when he came back from Russia, did he become more orthodox in his Muslim religion? Did that make him change? One of the things we're looking at also, is when you have these -- these bombs, what kind of sophistication, how were they trained to make the bombs?

You know, al Qaeda puts out a magazine called "Inspire" that literally gives directions on how to make the type of bombs that were used here.

One of the things I'm concerned about, and others too, is that they used -- it seems they used cell phones to set the bombs off. Now, that takes more sophistication. So, we need to continue and investigate that issue also.

BERMAN: You bring up an excellent point because one of the things we've heard over the last week is that these explosive devices, these pressure cooker bombs, or crude devices. Still, they work, there were three of them. Are you satisfied that this is the type of thing that people could do on their own without any kind of training?

RUPPERSBERGER: Those of us who've been in the intelligence committee for a while have always been concerned about the lone wolf, the lone wolf that doesn't mean just one individual. It means a small group of people that will come in under the radar. And why there's a concern about that is that when you're under the radar, we can't get the intelligence we would normally get.

You know, after 9/11, we are the most sophisticated country in the world as it relates to receiving any intelligence from people or from a technical point of view. Now -- and if, in fact, there is chatter or there's a big type of plot, we will probably pick it up. But what worries us are the types of situations like the bomber -- the Times Square bomber, the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber, these were all under the radar, Anwar al-Awlaki, who we have brought the justice, by the way.

He was an American who was in Yemen, and he was coordinating these types of attacks, knowing that our intelligence was sophisticated, so he would have to get people either over here or three or four people. Now, when you coordinate that type of attack, you have to make sure to get the type of whatever they need to make the bombs and then how to set the bombs off and the situations I talked about, those bombs didn't go off and we were lucky. We weren't lucky this time, unfortunately.

BERMAN: All right. Maryland congressman, Dutch Ruppersberger from intelligence committee, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

RUPPERSBERGER: Sure.

BERMAN: We really appreciate it.

We're also getting new photos this morning of the Tsavraev Brothers behind barricades at the Boston marathon right before the bombs went off. Most of the pictures are close ups of the brothers together. In some, you can see the smiling faces of people in the crowd. The blast killed three people and wounded more than 170 others.

New this morning, a gas station manager who helped the man carjacked by the Tsavraev Brothers last Thursday night is speaking to CNN. He says he called the police after the victim entered his store. He says it really was a bit frightening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAREQ AHMED, GAS STATION MANAGER: In after, after maybe 30 seconds, I called the police. They came here. He go -- he went inside the back area and he closed the door, and I -- this morning, I called the police. But I remember the gun, they want to shoot me. He was very, very -- he was screaming and he was nervous. He can take his breath, so it's too difficult for me to tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Must have been terrifying for that carjacking victim.

Now, a CNN exclusive, a dance instructor who lost a foot and part of her leg in the Boston marathon bombings, she is vowing to dance again and also to run in the Boston marathon. Adrianne Haslet-Davis was watching the marathon with her husband when they were hit by the second explosion. This is what she had to say to CNNs Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, INJURED IN BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS: I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that we survived. And that we weren't hurt at all. And I didn't feel any pain. I had no idea what had happened and then I sat up, and I tried -- he said we got to get out of here or something like that. And I sat up and tried to move. And I said oh, my gosh, my foot. There's something wrong with my afoot.

And he lifted up my leg and we just lost it. 'm only 32. I don't want this to be the end. So, whether it's, you know, running the marathon, or walking the marathon, or crawling the marathon, and being the last one across, I'm OK with that. I didn't say I'd win it. But I am defiant and I want to come out stronger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It is so nice to see her smile. Now, Haslet-Davis, a dancer, has never run a marathon before. But she does say also at one point in her life, she wasn't a ballroom dancer either she says.

So, we do know that the Tsavraev Brothers spent several years in the republic of Dagestan and the Russian caucuses, that's where their parents live today. And CNNs Nick Paton Walsh has just spoken with the alleged bomber's mother. Nick joins us now from the capital there. Nick, what's she saying?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A number of things. Very distressed I think mostly, because I spoke to her late last night when she was still under the belief that her eldest son, Tamerlan, was still alive. But she saw in the early hour, in social media video of his body and now accepts that he is actually deceased.

She still does not believe, I think, the U.S. charges against him, says that she believes he has been their target simply because he is a Muslim and does not believe really a fair trial is possible. In fact, saying to me on the phone that she, in fact, believes his voice was taken from him. We know he's now in the hospital but unable to speak, because they want to inhibit his defense.

Conspiratorial, I think, in many ways, suggesting there is some sort of third party behind concocting a case against her son, deeply distressed throughout our conversation, angry at any suggestions of any ties to extremism and also clear that she believes today or tomorrow, her son's body will be buried by his sisters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near a mosque -- John.

BERMAN: It's interesting to hear, Nick, her anger and, in fact, denial and continuing disbelief about this whole thing. Nick Paton Walsh in Dagestan this morning, thanks for being with us.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, we know the surviving Boston suspect is charged with terrorism and using a weapon of mass destruction. Will his new communication with investigators help him in court? We will ask that question to CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

And just days before the Madrid marathon, police arrest two suspected al Qaeda terrorists in Spain as the suspected terror attack on a train between the U.S. and Canada is thought (ph). We'll have a live report on that next.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

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ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. New this morning, police in Spain arresting two suspected al Qaeda terrorists. One is Algerian, the other Moroccan. Spain's interior ministry says their profiles are similar to the Boston marathon bombing suspects.

Officials say there's no indication of an imminent attack, but the arrests come days before the Madrid marathon event, which is expected to draw some 26,000 runners for a marathon half -- marathon and 10K race all run at the very same time.

And a developing story from Canada we're following. Authorities foil an alleged plot to attack a Canadian passenger train traveling to the United States. Canadian police have two men in custody. They claim the suspects had support from al Qaeda in Iran. CNNs Ted Rowlands live for us this morning in Toronto. Ted, what's the latest?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Well, we understand according to authorities that the plot allegedly was to attack a train that was going from here in Toronto to New York. And investigators here in Canada say the two suspects, not only had the will, but they had the capability to pull it off.

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ROWLAND (voice-over): In shackles and under heavy guard, 30-year-old Chiheb Esseghaier was flown from Montreal to Toronto Monday night. He's facing terrorism charges, along with 35-year-old Raed Jaser. Canadian authorities say the two were plotting an al Qaeda supported attack on a passenger train traveling between Canada and the United States.

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: My understanding is that this was always under control of the RCMP and no time was anyone's life actually in danger.

ROWLAND: Authorities say the suspects are not Canadian citizens, but they've declined to identify their nationality or how long they've been in Canada and few details of the alleged plot have been released, though, Canadian authorities have said it was in the planning stages and not imminent. Passenger trains have been terrorist targets before.

In 2004, more than 190 people were killed in Madrid. Dozens of people died a year later in the London bombings, and documents seized in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden showed that Bin Laden wanted to attack trains in the U.S. Canadian investigators say, in this case, the suspects received support from al Qaeda elements 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.

ROWLAND: The Iranian government vehemently denies the assertion that al Qaeda is operating inside its borders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLAND (on-camera): And, Christine, both suspects are expected to appear in court here in downtown Toronto in the next couple of hours at 10 o'clock eastern time for a bail hearing -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Ted Rowlands for us this morning in Toronto on those arrests. Thanks, Ted.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, a lot of people complain about their jobs, but only a few can say they have the worst job in America. Is your job one of the worst? Find out, next.

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ROMANS: "Minding Your Business" this morning looks like a positive open for stocks. Futures indicating a higher open when the bell rings in one hour. Dow futures up 50 points ahead for earning reports from Apple and AT&T.

All right. Do you love your job, do you hate your job? The annual list of the best and worst jobs in America is out this morning. And newspaper reporter is the worst of the worst. An average income of about $36,000 a year. Poor industry outlook hurting that profession's ranking. Lumberjack is the second worst, followed by enlisted military personnel, then, actor, then oil rig worker.

According to Career Path, the best job in America is an actuary, about $87,000 a year. Biomedical and software engineers are next. Audiologist and financial planner round out the top five. And John, they look at everything from physical exertion on the job to happiness to pay to satisfaction overall -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Christine Romans.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, the surviving Boston bombing suspect appears to be cooperating with authorities. How does that affect the prosecution's case? We're going to look at the legal road ahead with CNN's senior analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Plus, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," it has become an anthem for Boston, but the songwriter is working on something new, he says, to honor the city's resilience. We will have the details. They are so good, so good, so good. Details ahead.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

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