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Boston Bomber Dagestan Connections; Russians Tipped U.S. Twice About Suspect; Suspected in Poisoned Letter Case Released; Pressure Cooker Bombs Cheap and Deadly; Boston Bombing Victim Crawled for Help; Former Ricin Suspect Speaks Out

Aired April 24, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a CNN exclusive. We're learning about a secret bomb-making camp attended by foreigners in Dagestan and the shadowy militant who may have influenced a visitor from Boston.

But was the bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, radicalized by a friend back home? Right here in Massachusetts we're looking into the mysterious man who is accused of brainwashing him.

And you'll hear the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, eloquent, he's talking about the loss at a memorial service for a murdered police officer, and scornful of what he calls two cowardly, knock-off jihadis.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Boston. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Here are the latest developments of the Boston bombings. No cause of death has been found yet for the alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The body remains in the custody of the state's chief medical examiner. The suspect's mother says burial has been arranged at a Cambridge mosque but the Islamic Society of Boston says local imams would not be comfortable presiding.

The Massachusetts government says the suspects received welfare benefits when they were younger. And the older brother's family received them through last year. But the brothers were not receiving assistance at the time of the bombings.

An FBI delegation from the U.S. embassy in Moscow went to Dagestan today as part of the bombing investigation. A rights activist there says U.S. and Russian investigators talked with the suspects' parents.

The surviving suspect may have told investigators the brothers were self-radicalized via the Internet, but authorities want to know what the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was doing last year in Russia's volatile Dagestan region.

In a CNN exclusive, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh found there were ample opportunities for contact with or even training by Islamic militants, including one who ran a secret bomb-making camp. Nick is joining us now live from Dagestan.

Nick, what is the very latest information you're getting? NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the clear link between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and extremism in this region came on his YouTube channel, a link to a video of an extremist militant here.

Now we have been learning from police here about the seemingly extensive militant network that particular militant ran and some of the training they carried out in the forest of this area.


WALSH (voice-over): This is the Dagestani militant Abu Dujan in a video that one of the alleged Boston bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, posted owned his YouTube channel. Russian special forces killed Abu Dujan in a shootout last December in Dagestan, and we don't know if he ever met Tsarnaev.

But Dagestani police have revealed to CNN this small-time militant ran training camps for bomb-making that foreigners came to. Police gave us images of Abu Dujan's group training in the woods.

This one explains how to mix and prepare homemade explosives almost anywhere. And the group's pictures suggest they learned to use a mobile phone as a detonator. The local police chief who helped hunt down Abu Dujan says the militant trained foreigners.

ASKHABALI SAURBEKOV, POLICE CHIEF, KIZILYURT (through translator): We do not have audio or visual confirmation but we do have information confirming that Abu Dujan met with foreigners.

WALSH (on camera): What did the foreigners learn in the woods?

SAURBEKOV (through translator): I can't talk about the number of foreigners but they met to exchange their bandit experience. There are Dagestanis who have taken citizenship elsewhere who come here to meet in the historical motherland whose roots are here.

WALSH: And could that have included Americans?

SAURBEKOV (through translator): It's entirely possible, but I know there were Arabs and Turks among them, but whether there were Americans, I don't know.

WALSH: When the police chief told us that Abu Dujan was often observed coming here to the heart of Makhachkala, to this Salafist Islamic mosque behind me, which itself denies any links to extremism, it is possible though that Tamerlan Tsarnaev last year also prayed here.

SAURBEKOV (through translator): Of course the Kotrova (ph) mosque is their mosque where all the Wahhabists go. Our technological work gives us operational information that Abu Dujan went there, met people, and agitated. Not once but many times.

WALSH: There are reports that Dujan was observed at the mosque and he was observed meeting Tsarnaev. Do you know this?

SAURBEKOV (through translator): I really can't answer this. For different reasons, I can't answer. You understand me?


WALSH: I should be clear here, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Abu Dujan, we don't know at this point, we can't confirm if they ever actually met. But look at the kind of training Abu Dujan was able to provide, how useful it could have been to whoever it was that was trying to carry out the attacks in Boston.

And bear in mind that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in the same city as that militant for about half of last year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Six months-plus indeed. Nick, as we reported earlier, officials from the U.S. embassy in Moscow, they are there right now in Dagestan questioning Tamerlan's parents. Tell us what we know about those questions, the meetings.

WALSH: Well, it began yesterday. The FBI and Russian security service, FSB, involved in this questioning of the parents. I'm sure they're trying to piece together what exactly happened in those six months and perhaps any other visits that may have occurred here by Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

It is apparently clear at this point that the Russians on two occasions asked American officials for assistance or further information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and the Americans consider that request to be a bit too vague.

There is clearly going to be more of a diplomatic spat emerging out of this, but I think, clearly, the thrust of the FBI investigation is going to be trying to find out exactly from the FSB perhaps, the Russian security services, how much more they knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and perhaps any links he may have had to militants in Makhachkala here in Dagestan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Nick, stand by for a moment.

I want to drill a little bit deeper right now in the possible, the possible influence or training by militants in Dagestan. Nick is standing by but I want to bring in our national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, what role has overseas training played in other bombing attacks and plots here in the United States?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The ones that have been really significant, Wolf, have always involved overseas training, which is why it seems somewhat implausible that this was entirely domestic in the case of Boston.

You will recall that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was masterminded by somebody called Ramzi Yousef. He trained in an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in around 1990. He was also somebody who studied engineering at university, which was obviously helpful.

Then you'll recall the failed Times Square bomber, who tried to blow up an SUV on May 1st, 2010, Faisal Shahzad. He had bomb-making training from the Pakistani Taliban, but it only lasted about five days in Waziristan, which might account for the fact that he couldn't successfully detonate the bomb in his SUV.

And finally, Najibullah Zazi, who had a plan to blow up several bombs in the Manhattan subway in 2009 around the eighth anniversary of 9/11, who was also somebody trained in bomb-making in Pakistan by al Qaeda, was actually on the phone getting -- trying to get clarification about the exact amounts of explosive materials that he would be using in his bomb plot.

So it is -- we haven't seen a serious successful attack in the United States coming out of a jihadist movement or a serious near miss that didn't have overseas training. It's not impossible that there wasn't overseas training in the Boston marathon case, but I think it is quite unlikely given the historical record -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. And let me bring back Nick in Dagestan.

By what you're hearing on the ground, is Russia looking into possible connections between this militant, we'll put a picture up of him, Abu Dujan, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old, dead, alleged bomber here in Boston?

WALSH: Well, Russian officials, the FSB I spoke to in Moscow, have no comment to make on this case at all. And that has been the case for quite some time.

But that policeman we spoke to earlier on, I put the question straight to him. You know, he told us Abu Dujan went to this Salafist Islamist mosque in the heart of Makhachkala several times, met other people that the police considered extremists at that mosque, they'll deny any such links.

And of course we have heard from people around here it's entirely possible Tamerlan Tsarnaev may also have been to that mosque. We don't have concrete proof that the two men met at this point.

But the piece of the jigsaw -- forgive me for mixing metaphors here, are beginning to overlap at this point. It is entirely possible that, of course, the opportunity was there. We just don't know if it was seized upon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, Peter, let's look ahead a little bit. The coming days. Do you anticipate, knowing what you know about U.S.-Russian relations right now, and there has been some tension as we all know, that there will be full cooperation, the Russians will share whatever they know with FBI and other U.S. officials who are on the ground there?

BERGEN: I think in this instance, Wolf, you know, Russia has been -- Russia, as you know, has been fighting various kinds of wars in Chechnya since the 18th Century. So -- and this is very much in their wheelhouse. In fact, you know, in the past they've sort of wanted the United States to take a more kind of sympathetic view of what they regard as Chechen terrorism. So, I mean, I would be extremely surprised if there wasn't very, very good cooperation on this issue because it is so much in both countries' interests.

BLITZER: Peter Bergen, thanks very much. Nick Paton Walsh, on the ground in Dagestan, thanks to you as well.

While investigators dig into Tamerlan Tsarnaev's visit to Dagestan, remember, he was there for six months last year, could the bombing suspect have been steered to radical Islam by a friend right back here in the Boston area, including near his home in Cambridge? Brian Todd has been looking into this part of the story for us, it's a very sensitive part of the story.

What are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new information tonight on influences that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had that may have made him veer toward radical Islam. Relatives are describing a shadowy figure who they say held sway over him in recent years.


TODD (voice-over): Family members now describe a mysterious man who they say had a mesmerizing influence on Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They only know him as "Misha." They say they don't know his full name.

Here is how the suspect's uncle described the man and his influence on the older brother in an interview with CNN.

RUSLAN TSARNI, SUSPECTS' UNCLE: There is a person, sort of some new convert into Islam of Armenian descent. I said, this person just -- he took his brain, just brainwashed him completely. Tamerlan is off now. There is no (INAUDIBLE) and respect his own father. That concerned me big time, unbelievably.

TODD: More pieces fit together in a telephone interview Wolf Blitzer did with the ex-brother-in-law of the two suspects. Elmirza Khozhgov said he had met Misha twice, been introduced to him by Tamerlan. Khozhgov said he didn't witness Misha actually turning Tamerlan into a radical Islamist, but...

ELMIRZA KHOZHGOV, SUSPECTS' EX-BROTHER-IN-LAW: But he surely did have influence and did teach him things that would make Tamerlan, you know, go away from the people and go more into the religion. And maybe, maybe that is possible that he suggested to him some radical ideas.

TODD: Khozhgov said Tamerlan Tsarnaev had told him he had quit boxing and listening to mainstream music because Misha taught him that in Islam it's not good to do those things.

Asked if he suspected that Misha was connected to any terrorist groups...

KHOZHGOV: I didn't suspect either him or Tamerlan being connected to terror groups or having terrorist ideas. But I know that they had a lot of conversations about just, you know, Islam and how Islam is being attacked from the outside, you know, from the Western countries and how Islam is under pressure.

TODD: Asked when Tamerlan became a more devout Muslim, the ex- brother-in-law and the uncle both say they noticed it about four years ago.

We searched for Misha using the Internet, a search database, and social media, cross-referencing his name with descriptions of him. One name did come up. We scoured matching addresses in the Boston area, phone numbers, and e-mails. We couldn't find him so we're not mentioning his name.

Has Misha ever been connected with the Islamic Society of Boston, the mosque the two suspects attended? I put that question to mosque spokesman Yusufi Vali.

(on camera): Is there such a person in this congregation? And do you think that there could be anything to that?

YUSUFI VALI, SPOKESMAN, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON: Not to our knowledge. Not to our knowledge, no.


TODD: And another mosque official told me, quote, "we are looking for him, too." They say they want to find this Misha person as much as anyone else right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Now the younger -- Tamerlan, the older, the older brother, he is still what, not been buried?

TODD: That's right.

BLITZER: And you're speaking to imams and other Muslim religious leaders who feel uncomfortable participating in a formal religious burial for this guy?

TODD: That's right. We spoke to people at the Islamic Society of Boston where he attended. Asked him, first of all, have you been contacted by the family to make arrangements for his burial? They say as of now, this afternoon, no, they have not.

And when I asked them, you know, if they contact you, will you do it? Will you hold a funeral service for him? One of the mosque officials said, yes, we will, we have an obligation to do that, we don't have excommunication here in Islam, it is our obligation.

But this person did throw in a caveat saying the elders, the senior imams are not comfortable with doing it so it may be a lay person who does it.

BLITZER: And, as you know, under Muslim religious law, you are supposed to bury someone who dies immediately with -- as quickly as possible.

TODD: Right. That's right.

BLITZER: That hasn't happened yet all these days later.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much.

Up next, we're getting new information on the extraordinarily tight security over at the hospital where the wounded suspect is being held.

And we're also digging into that 2011 triple murder here in Massachusetts in which the victims had their throats slashed, including one of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's best friends.


BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Boston. We're learning more about the tight security surrounding the wounded suspect here in Boston. CNN's Ashleigh Banfield is joining us now. Ashleigh, you're over at the hospital. You have new details about what's going on over there at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Share with our viewers.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, I've spoken with three people who work at this hospital who all have the same essential descriptions of the extraordinary security situation surrounding this very high value detainee, you might call him. As Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tries to recover and is in fair condition in this hospital, there is a phalanx of security around him.

In fact, there an entire unit, a whole ICU that has been shut off. And even visitors who have friends or patients anywhere nearby are being told that they have to go up and around and over to get to where they need to go. It's on a higher floor and I do know that the number of the floor, but because of the security situation I prefer not to broadcast that. It's on a higher floor in one of the buildings here in the complex at this hospital behind me.

And there are no fewer than about six federal marshals that are on hand as well as the actual hospital police force that's here, a number of officers. One of the people I spoke with that has actually been in the presence of the suspect in this case, the defendant now, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has said that he doesn't look good. He is still unable to speak.

And he believes that based on the conversations from all the authorities who are openly discussing the situation in this very closed secure environment, that he is possibly able to write, although he didn't witness it himself. But it is a remarkable scene that surrounds this person, in particular, as they continue to talk about how to transfer him potentially in the next few days, that according to the district attorney.

I also want to tell you that person said to me they cannot wait to get him out of here, although, some people have said that it's business as usual. They don't notice the difference at the hospital. Clearly, in that particular area, it is quite remarkable.

BLITZER: Ashleigh, I know you're also digging into that 2011 triple murder here in Massachusetts in which one of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's best friends died. A new investigation apparently has been reopened. What are you learning?

BANFIELD: Well, it's so interesting. There's different nomenclature when you're talking about these things. You know, a cold case, murder case never closes especially one that has absolutely no leads that they've been making public to suspects. So, it is not a closed case, it's not a reopened case, but it is a reinvigorated case without question.

And I can tell you first hand from the sister of one of those murder victims, she tells me that she's been in touch not only with the detectives, with the actual local police detachment that originally investigated that case. Those detectives are still on that case. But she's also been meeting with the Middlesex district attorney's office and has another meeting scheduled for next week.

And just so you know what this district attorney is up against, not only in this triple homicide that they think may now be connected to Tamerlan Tsarnaev because of the close connection and friendship that he may have had.

This is also, Wolf, the district attorney's office that needs to process the crime scene from last week where those officers in attempting to take down these two suspects were shot at, were -- endured a hail of ordnance and explosives and IEDs, and then, ultimately, the next day, the suspect was captured and then brought here to this hospital. So, it is a remarkable amount of criminal activity that they need to process.

And I can tell you first hand from a conversation I just had within the hour of a source that very close to the Middlesex County district attorney's office that there may be a conflict of opinions that's brewing right now as to who's going to handle this. there Is the DA and assistant DAs that would very much like to handle these crimes and prosecute them locally. And there's their U.S. attorney's office that is also in very deep conversations with this D.A. over the kinds of crimes that they would like to prosecute.

And just so you now, the first day on the job for the D.A. in Middlesex was yesterday. She was sworn in at 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. She has a lot of work ahead of her.

Clearly, they have to establish who's going to handle these crimes, but there's no need to rush over here and read any kind of Miranda rights or any sort of arraignment for a local crime here at this hospital because that young man is not going anywhere and there is no federal statute of limitations or state statute of limitations with regard to murder.

So, they have all the time in the world they want if they want to prosecute him for any kind of murder in the neighboring county, Wolf.

BLITZER: And security is very, very tight over there at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Ashleigh, thanks very much.

Coming up, he's only a couple doors down from one of the bombing sites, and he took in victims just after the blasts occurred. Ahead, my interview with a restaurant manager struggling to get his business back up and running.

Plus, a dancer wounded in the blast now faced with the challenge of dancing without her left foot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have moments where I just throw water bottles across the room and throw my walker and just get angry and mad that someone did this to me.


BLITZER: As investigators focus on the older bombing suspect's visits to Russia, U.S. authorities are taking heat for not necessarily monitoring as closely as they should his activities after being tipped off by the Russian government. CNN crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, has some new information on this part of the story. What are you learning, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've now learned that the Russians told the U.S. about Tamerlan Tsarnaev twice. First, they told the FBI early in 2011 and late the same year, a government source tells CNN. They also told the Central Intelligence Agency, too, the CIA. Now, the question is, what did the government do about it?


JOHNS (voice-over): When Tamerlan Tsarnaev left the U.S. for Russia in January 2012, the Department of Homeland Security took note. His name was included in the customs and border protection system called TECS, which is supposed to detect unusual or suspicious travel. It was there because the now dead Boston bomber was also included in the FBI's enormous terrorism screening data base, a half million names of known or suspected terrorists.

He was also on the National Counterterrorism Center's terrorist identity's data mart environment, TIDE for short. Similar to the FBI list and updated several times a day with much more specific information. Tsarnaev departure was communicated to the joint terrorism task force in Boston. So, how is it that three government agencies knew about Tsarnaev, but he got such freedom to travel?

Intelligence and law enforcement officials tell CNN Tsarnaev was included because in March of 2011, at the prompting of the Russians, an investigation was opened into possible ties with Islamic extremists. But three months later, having interviewed him, his family, and looking at some of his online activities, the U.S. did not see a threat and cleared him.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The FBI took action in response to that notification, investigated the elder brother, and investigated thoroughly and came to the conclusion that there was no derogatory information, no indication of terrorist activity or associations either foreign or domestic at that time.

JOHNS: And that's the reason Tsarnaev's name was not placed on any U.S. watch list that could have actually stopped him from flying when he left the U.S. for Russia and returned last year. Authorities said Tsarnaev wouldn't have been deemed suspicious because he was supposed to be traveling to Russia to see his family. By the time he returned, he was cleared by the FBI and the system was no longer required to notify about his travels.


JOHNS (on-camera): The takeaway question is how Tsarnaev was able to return to the U.S. from Russia without arousing suspicion. Law enforcement authorities say he'd already been thoroughly checked out and they found no terrorism activities or other derogatory information and the case was closed even before he returned to the country.

As for the Russians, that information they provided to the CIA late in 2011 we're told was no different than what had already been investigated by the FBI earlier in the year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: More investigation on this part of the story going on right now. Joe, thanks very much.

Just over a week ago, it was a scene of a bloody carnage in the chaos of those deadly bombings. Today, Boylston Street is open once again. Take a look at a live picture. I want to show you right now. There it is. You see a lot of activity there. It\s truly an amazing sight. I had the chance to see it all firsthand.


BLITZER: A street that's been eerily quiet since that awful day burst back to life today. Thousands of people crowded Boylston Street, the scene of both bombings. This is where the damage was done. People have now gathered to just reflect and think about how this city has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of my friends and family were really affected by it, and it is still really hard to wrap my head around the fact that this happened here especially. But I just thought it would be necessary to, you know --

BLITZER: Why did you decide to come here today?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To support the businesses and just to feel some camaraderie with everyone.

BLITZER: Most shops and stores are up and running. Ed, you're back in business today. First time in a long time. This is the first day you really opened for business here on Boylston street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We've been closed for about nine days now, and it's really been tough. You know, from a financial situation, from the terrorist attacks, from employees with families not getting paid. You know, just dealing with this on a daily basis really been tough.

BLITZER: A few places still need time to recover.

This is right where the bomb went off in front of the Forum restaurant. You can see it's still boarded up.

And doors along Boylston Street all bear marks of the methodical investigation after the attacks. During the nine days this whole area was closed, it was a crime scene and major investigations were going on. They literally searched every little crevice. You can see the checkmarks, explosive ordnance division checked off. Fire department checked off. They went in every one of these buildings, floor by floor, room by room to make sure there were no unexploded bombs or any other evidence left behind.

But while some areas show scars, flowers, notes, gifts, and flags are turning this most famous street in Boston into a living memorial.


BLITZER: I'll say, it was a very, very moving experience for me. I'm sure for everyone who walked up and down Boylston Street. Especially when you saw the finish line over there for the Boston Marathons and you know that not far away two bombs exploded, killing three people, injuring more than 250 others, and wreaking such havoc on this entire community.

Up next, an injured dancer comes to terms with losing her foot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I went into the surgery, I still thought they could save my foot. I could move my toes. I could feel them touching my toes.


BLITZER: Much more of her candid interview with our own Anderson Cooper. That's coming up.

Also, the Elvis impersonator accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Pbama and others, speaking exclusively to our Chris Cuomo


BLITZER: Joining us now, Tim Fannin. He's the general manager of the restaurant Abe And Louie's right on Boylston Street not very far away from the bombings. You were there on that day, and you haven't been able to reopen the restaurant yet but you are in the process of cleaning up and getting it ready. How emotional is this for you? TIM FANNIN, GENERAL MANAGER, ABE AND LOUIE'S: It's been a tough day. The week has been hard enough. We've gone through the investigation and helping the police if they needed it and that sort of thing. It's tough on our employees not to be at work. Everybody is ready to get back to normal.

BLITZER: Yes, but it's going to take a while. I was over at your place today. It's a great place. Not open yet. Looking forward to eating there one of these days.

Remind us of where you were on that Monday at the end of the Boston Marathon when, boom, boom. Those two bombs went off.

FANNIN: Sure. We had a full house. We had a great party going. We had about 400 people in the building. We heard the first bomb, and I think a lot of people described it kind of like a cannon. I was in the back of the restaurant at the time and heard the first one. And you kind of shrugged your shoulders and thought that was strange. And then heard the second one, and then immediately tried to start getting our folks out of the building. It was just time.

BLITZER: They left through the back.


BLITZER: You got them all out. Everybody inside, the 400 guests you had --


BLITZER: -- all got out OK?

FANNIN: Yes, employees and everybody was safe.

BLITZER: Everybody was safe. So, what did you do? You were the general manager. So, did you run out? Did you flee? Did you check out what was going on?

FANNIN: You know, we made sure we got the building empty. Made sure we helped people we could help. We made sure our staff was safe, our guests were safe, was the biggest thing we were really concerned about.

BLITZER: I walked up and down Boylston Street today, and so many people were coming from all over. Not only Boston but all over the country and whoever was here wanted to see it. I guess the question is will Boylston Street, based on what happened, ever be the same?

FANNIN: You know, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were here today. It's been refreshing. We've had so many phone calls of people asking when we'll be open, you know, asking what's going on in the street. People just walking by and you saw it today. It was just incredible. Sort of the strength of the community.

BLITZER: And Boston strong. These people were great, and they wanted to be there even though several of them said to me, you know, I got to look out a little bit. I was a little worried. My mom said I shouldn't come. You're getting a little bit of that, right?

FANNIN: For sure. For sure. This community, the people that have grown up here, you know, they're a strong sort. They want to get back to work. They want to support all these businesses on Boylston Street.

BLITZER: What is your message to the folks in the United States and indeed, around the world who are watching you, a Bostonian, watching right now? what do you want to let them know about your city?

FANNIN: It's just absolutely a gorgeous city. It's filled with history, filled with wonderful people, hospitable people that want to take care of them, want to come here and see all the history and things we have to offer.

BLITZER: You've got a great place, you've got a great restaurant. Tim, thanks very much and good luck to you, Tim, and all the folks here in Boston.

FANNIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. My pleasure.

BLITZER: Just ahead, you'll hear the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, he's speaking eloquently from personal experience about loss and grief at a memorial for a murdered Massachusetts police officer.

Also, you'll hear from an incredibly brave and determined bombing survivor. A dance teacher who lost a leg. She is now telling how she crawled to safety.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked at a couple people and looked up and said can you help me? Can you help me? I was just covered in blood. A couple people were just in a state of shock and just looked me like oh, my gosh and ran the other direction.



BLITZER: As investigators learn more about the suspects in these horrific bombings here in Boston, CNN's Anderson Cooper has been talking to an unbelievably brave survivor. This dancer lost her left leg below the knee when the bomb went off, and her husband also was injured. I want you to listen to how she saved herself by crawling for help.


ADRIANNE HASLET-DAVIS, WOUNDED DANCE INSTRUCTOR: I crawled on my elbows to try and get into one of the nearest businesses. I believe it was Forum. I could be wrong on the name. And I looked at a couple people and looked up and said can you help me? Can you help me? I was just covered in blood, and a couple people were just in a state of shock and just looked at me like, oh, my gosh and ran the other direction. I don't believe they were ill intended. I just think they were in shock. And then I grabbed the door open with my elbow and crawled into Forum, dragging blood and asked a couple people for help and finally received it.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How long were you there for?

HASLET-DAVIS: We were there -- it seems like forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The timing could have flown. My guess would have been five to ten minutes.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes, maybe 10 to 15. It is hard to tell when it seems like it crawls by. We definitely had some people there, and I kept saying tighter and tighter. The pain was unbearable. I was asking for whiskey. I was yelling at people and asking for whiskey or vodka because we were in a bar, and I thought --

COOPER: Is that the real reason you crawled into a bar?

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes, it is, actually! I just thought, well, may as well get a drink now. This is it.

COOPER: Did people bring you whiskey?

HASLET-DAVIS: No, they didn't.


HASLET-DAVIS: But I thought, you know, this is going to be a long process. I knew that there were bombs going off. I didn't know if there were more -- I didn't hear them but I wasn't paying attention. I didn't know if there were more. I thought I'm going to be here forever. We're going to be here hurt forever and losing all this blood because it was the middle of the marathon. It would -- there were bombs going off probably hundreds of thousands of people hurt and I didn't think that they would get to us as fast as they did.

And before we knew it a doctor came pushing his way through the crowd who's just dressed in civilian clothes and said, I'm a doctor, I'm a doctor, and he immediately tied the tourniquets tight enough that I lost feeling in my leg which I was thankful for.

COOPER: Tying those tourniquets on the scene in that bar, I mean, that probably saved you.

HASLET-DAVIS: It probably did. Yes. I would love to find those guys that were there that helped. I'm thankful to Adam for helping obviously. I thanked him a lot but I'd love to find those other people that I can say thank you to as well.

COOPER: Do you know who they were?

HASLET-DAVIS: No. Not sure. Just Good Samaritans. Yes.

COOPER: At what point -- I know your mom came, your mom and dad.


COOPER: And you woke up.


COOPER: The next day.

HASLET-DAVIS: They were there the next day when I woke up. When I went into the surgery I still thought that they could save my foot. I could move my toes. I could feel them touching my toes. I -- they said wiggle your toe. Do you feel your foot? I could still do it. So I thought that in my forever optimism and thinking positive I would still have my foot and I woke up and I didn't.

COOPER: Do you still feel the foot?

HASLET-DAVIS: I do. Not right this second but I do. When I have a sheet over it I can feel that feeling of the sheet on top of your toes. I still have phantom itch which is weird. You can't -- you can't scratch it.

COOPER: You're determined to dance again then.


COOPER: What is your favorite dance?

HASLET-DAVIS: That's hard to -- hard to say. That's like saying what your favorite song is. It's like, on Sunday mornings I want like a waltz or foxtrot or something slower but on Saturday nights somewhat like a cha-cha or a mambo. Depends. I do them all so.

COOPER: What is the first dance you want to do?

HASLET-DAVIS: Viennese waltz.

COOPER: Viennese waltz.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes. One of the tougher ones but it's fast and it's beautiful and it's a wonderful, wonderful dance.


BLITZER: What a wonderful, wonderful young woman indeed. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

Coming up at the top of the hour we'll take you to the violent region of Dagestan in Russia. We're going to retrace the steps of the bombing suspect during a six-month visit to Russia last year.


BLITZER: FBI and other federal agents are working around the clock to try to determine who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and other officials just one day after charges were dropped against the suspect that was in custody. That former suspect, Paul Curtis, spoke exclusively with our Chris Cuomo just a little while ago.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Is there any connection between you and what was done with these ricin letters? Any at all?


CUOMO: In your understanding, Christi McCoy, are investigators completely free of your client as someone who's implicated in this situation? Because they have not given clear word. What is your understanding?

CHRISTI MCCOY, ATTORNEY FOR PAUL CURTIS: That is absolutely my understanding, Chris. We are, in fact, I spoke with someone this morning involved in the investigation with the prosecutors, and I actually had made arrangements, I haven't had a chance to speak with Kevin about it yet, that we're actually ready to assist them in as far as what we know, what Kevin knows, what -- you know, if there's anything that might help them.

But I do believe that they have absolutely, even though they may not have publicly said that, I think that they realize what we have known all along, is that Kevin was in absolutely no way connected with these letters.

CUOMO: When they came to you, what was the explanation for why they believed that you were the man? Why did investigators believe it was you?

CURTIS: Well, when they came to me, and I was arrested, it happened really fast. Like a scene out of a movie. So -- I mean, they didn't explain anything. They just kept saying, you know what you've done. And don't move. Don't resist. And I mean, I had to set my coat down. They allowed me to do that. You talk about Homeland Security, Secret Service, FBI, you know, so many vehicles in my neighborhood, I've never seen anything like it. So I was in a state of -- it was like shock, is the best way I could explain it.

CUOMO: How intense did it get in there with the investigators? What were the stakes? What were they doing to you and saying to you?

CURTIS: Well, they were nice. The Homeland Security officer, the Capitol Police lady from Washington, and a gentleman from the FBI -- do I mention any names? I think it was Officer Grant, Agent Grant. Very respectful. There was only one individual in that room that was agitated with me, and he was shaking and very nervous. I think he knew that, you know, we don't have enough on this guy, guys, I don't want to compromise my job, I've got a job to do.

But I think he had been in it long enough over the years that he -- he felt some form of uncertainty. They intensely interrogated me for hours. And it was nerve-racking. I can't even express, my inside nerves were going to come out of my ear.

MCCOY: When he was being interrogated, one thing that he was told, that quite frankly, that upset me just a little bit, but he was told by Agent Grant that there was a young woman in the hospital at that very moment who was probably going to die from her exposure to ricin. And that they needed to know right that minute what was in the ricin, so that they could save her life. That was just untrue.

CUOMO: How did they explain to you that you were going to be released? And what did they say to you when they were releasing you at that time, initially? What did they tell you?

CURTIS: No one in the system told me anything regarding being released. All I got on the inside was, man, you're in trouble. You tried to kill the president. When I got to Christi, on the day it was dismissed, I walked up to a screen window and she just put her hand up to it, when she did that, I just knew it looked good. And she said, just hold on. We don't have all the information, there's been a turn of events, and looks like we're going to get you out of here today. And this will be dismissed.


BLITZER: The investigation obviously continues, thanks to Chris Cuomo for that interview.

Just ahead at the top of the hour, we're taking you to the violent region of Dagestan in Russia. We're retracing the steps of the bombing suspect during a six-month stay there last year.


BLITZER: A massive building collapse in Bangladesh. Our Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What do you have, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more than 80 people are dead and hundreds injured after an eight-storey building housing several garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh. And authorities say many more could still be trapped inside. A government official says the structure was not built in compliance with safety regulations and that legal action will be taken.

A chilling new glimpse at the power of that deadly Texas plant explosion. At the center of the devastation, a crater nearly 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep, investigators are working to determine what caused that blast that killed 14 people, including nine first responders, and injured hundreds of others. But they now say it was not sparked by natural causes.

And tomorrow, all five living presidents will gather for the unveiling and dedication of former President George W. Bush's Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas. A CNN/ORC poll shows American's view of the former president has improved. Forty-two percent now say it was a success, that is up 11 points since January of 2009, while 55 percent say it was a failure. That's down 13 points since 2009. And be sure to tune in to "ANDERSON COOPER 360" tonight at 10:00 Eastern. The former president weighs in on the Boston bombing and talks about life after the White House -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much.

Happening now, we're retracing the steps of Tamerlan Tsarnaev during the Boston bombing suspect's mysterious trip last year to Russia. Who did he talk to? Where did he go?