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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Were Boston Suspects Working Alone?; Interview With Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Roots of Radicalism; Interview with Peter Galbraith on Afghan President Receiving Money from U.S.

Aired April 29, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Those involved in the Boston terrorist attacks are either dead or in jail. Or are they? I'm Jake Tapper, and this is THE LEAD.

The national lead, the planning, the bomb-making, the execution. Could the Tsarnaev brothers really have done it all on their own? According to a growing number of members of Congress, the answer is no.

His picture has been plastered all over TV and the Internet for more than a week, but we didn't have any idea of what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev actually sounded like until now. The suspect caught on tape in an unguarded moment.

And the world lead. Ghost money. Tens of millions of U.S. dollars reportedly slipped to the office of the Afghan president off the books. Could it have ended up in the hands of the very enemies our troops are fighting?

Good afternoon. We're coming to you live from Copley Square in Boston.

On the national lead today, it's a thought that's haunting, but entirely possible. Did the Boston bombing suspects have help plotting their vicious attacks? And if so, is the real mastermind still out there ready to wreak more havoc? Some lawmakers, especially Republicans, are raising that possibility. They made the rounds on Sunday talk shows, saying they're not yet convinced Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev acted alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: I think, given the level of sophistication of this device, the fact that the pressure cooker is a signature device that goes back to Pakistan and Afghanistan, leads me to believe -- and the way they handled these devices and the tradecraft leads me to believe that there was a trainer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real test of it, whether he was radicalized or not or where he was radicalized is Russia. And we have to do a lot of investigation in Russia because when he went over to Russia and then came back, things changed, including his brother.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So is this just a sneaking suspicion, or is there actual evidence to back it up? In a moment, we will talk to one the men sharing those concerns, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

But, first, the latest on the investigation from CNN contributor and former CIA operative Robert Baer.

Bob, what's the biggest plot that investigators have to work with to find out how this plot all came together?

BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: My opinion is, it's the circuitry of the bomb. There's a certain signature they are going to find on this.

And I have seen multiple reports, "Wall Street Journal," ABC News, CNN and on, that there -- that police are looking at this as a sophisticated device which does not precisely follow the Internet plans that are in "Inspire" magazine. If that's the case, there's a master bomber out there. If there is a master bomber, is he in Dagestan or is he in the United States? Because if he's in the United States, there's a chance he could strike again.

And I'm waiting for an FBI agent to step forward either in trial or before to tell me just how sophisticated this thing was.

TAPPER: So last week I interviewed a cabdriver. He picked up the Tsarnaev brothers, he says, and Department Homeland Security Officials have interviewed him and are reportedly taking his story seriously. He picked them up the day before the attacks in nearby Malden, Massachusetts.

And according to his story, they had two knapsacks, one of which he held at one point, and said it was heavier than he thought it would be, and he drove them to close to their home in Cambridge. I suspect that the FBI and other officials, law enforcement community, are following up that clue, but that might suggest that the bombs were fashioned in Malden or nearby Malden. What would you make of that?

BAER: I think they were either out there practicing with the firing devices, or they picked them up from somebody. I mean, if they made them off the Internet in their kitchens, they wouldn't be carrying them to rural Massachusetts, outside of town. It just doesn't make sense.

But, Jake, it comes back to the fact that I have played with these things a long time, 35 years now, and it's very difficult to make them go off. And in an attack like this, the last thing you want is a bomb to be a dud, because the plot is uncovered, everybody goes to jail, nothing happens, it doesn't serve their purposes, their ideological purposes.

So you want these things to be foolproof. And in order to have them foolproof, you need a bomb maker to do it or someone with a lot of practice. Otherwise, these things just don't go after with that consistency that they managed to make happen.

TAPPER: All right, Bob Baer, thank you so much. I want to bring in Judge Michael Mukasey. He's a former attorney general in the Bush administration.

Judge Mukasey, you say there's no way these two suspects acted alone. You also wrote in "The Wall Street Journal" that this is an act of jihad and that the Obama administration needs to recognize that.

Why are you so sure this was part of a larger movement?

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, look at the evidence.

Number one, the keen and intense Islamic interest of the dead defendant, the fact that he was, by all accounts, radicalized, there's no reason for doing that, other than as a bit of Islamist terror. In addition to which, it was conceived as a suicide operation. They obviously were intent on doing as much damage they could, but with the knowledge that they were going to be caught and/or killed.

In fact, the initial information had it that the one who was killed was wearing a suicide vest, which simply reinforces the impression of Islamist terrorism.

TAPPER: Judge Mukasey, you also suggest in "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed you wrote a few days ago that you think the Obama administration and more pointedly that the FBI is too delicate about Islamic terrorism. Explain what you mean and why that would be significant.

MUKASEY: Well, the FBI for years has been purging its training materials of any reference to Islamist terrorism.

It's also been taking instruction on that and on sensitivity from organizations that are themselves Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, CAIR and ISNA.

TAPPER: You say in your "Wall Street Journal" piece that Tamerlan Tsarnaev is the fifth person since 9/11 who has participated in terrorist attacks after being questioned by the FBI. The FBI questioned them first. And then they went on to commit these terrorist attacks. What needs to happen to stop these people from slipping through the cracks?

MUKASEY: I think what needs to happen is for people to get their minds around the fact that we're dealing with an ideology and that we need to approach it in that way, and to understand what motivates the people who do this and keep records of the people who are interviewed and what they -- where they go and what they do.

Apparently, after the interview, supposedly nothing was found, and the matter appears to have been dropped.

TAPPER: All right, Judge Michael Mukasey, thank you so much. We hope you will come on again soon.

MUKASEY: Thank you. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Two hundred and sixty-four people were wounded in the terrorist attacks last week; 23 are still in the hospital. We also want, as we do every show, to take a moment to remember those who were killed, 8-year-old Martin Richard. His mom and sister also terribly wounded in the blast; 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, she was at the marathon to see a friend finish; 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, a Boston University graduate student from China, and, of course, 26-year-old officer Sean Collier, the MIT officer allegedly gunned down by the suspects three days after the bombing.

Today, federal agents were inside the family home of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow and the mother of his child, Katherine Russell.

I want to go live to Erin McPike, who's on the scene in Rhode Island.

Erin, how long were the investigators with the family, and do we know specifically what they were looking for?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, they were in this home behind me for about 90 minutes, and when they came out, what I can tell you is a couple of them were carrying these black equipment cases, and one of them had a clear plastic bag that was marked DNA samples.

Now, also, when they left, some of these federal agents and investigators got into some cars and Katie Russell and her attorney got into the attorney's car and they all left in a long caravan. And where they went was Katie Russell's attorney's office in downtown Providence. And, Jake, they left at 2:15, and the latest information that we have is that they are still inside the attorney's office where federal officials are.

I can also tell you that there is still at least one federal agent stationed outside this house right now.

TAPPER: Erin, no one knew Tamerlan like this woman, but while everyone from the Tsarnaevs' parents to his aunts and uncles have been talking to the press, she has remained quiet. Is there any specific stated idea why that is?

MCPIKE: Well, Jake, what I can tell you from being in this town, North Kingstown, it's a very small town. It's an American family, and she has two younger sisters. Her parents still live here. A lot of the members of the community have a lot of really nice things to say about the family and also about Katie. She doesn't herself remain well-connected to this community because she moved away six years ago, but every time we have tried to talk to the FBI about her, they have basically said she has attorneys so she's not talking.

And a lot of people in this community won't say much either, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Erin McPike, thank you. Coming up, we will let you hear for the very fist time the voice of a suspected terrorist. New video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is straight ahead. And his uncle says he was brainwashed by a man who until now was only known as Misha.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This person just, he took his brain, just brainwashed him completely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now Misha is finally speaking out about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

And, later, some people will do anything to make a buck. We will look at how contractors are already cashing in on the terrorist attacks in Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston.

It remains one of the biggest mysteries in the aftermath of the Boston terrorist attacks two weeks ago today. Who or what could have driven the older brother to radicalism? We're following the twisted path in search of the roots of his extremism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Earlier in life, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a boxer. He dabbled in piano. He hung out at bars. But then at some point four or five years ago, his interests dramatically shifted.

National Public Radio's Laura Sullivan spoke to former roommates of his wife, Katherine Russell.

LAURA SULLIVAN, NPR CORRESPONDENT: It was 2008/2009 when these women say they saw Tamerlan begin to change. And he stopped going out with them. He stopped drinking. He stopped smoking. And he at that point said to Katherine Russell that she also had to become a Muslim.

TAPPER: Tsarnaev was becoming increasingly strict in his Muslim beliefs. His uncle has accused a mysterious man, until now only known as Misha, of brainwashing him starting in 2009. A U.S. government official tells CNN that the FBI has interviewed a man called Misha, an Armenian convert to Islam, in Rhode Island.

Christian Caryl of "The New York Review of Books" tracked down this Misha, and he adamantly denies any involvement in Tsarnaev's radicalization.

CHRISTIAN CARYL, "THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS": He was very, very, very intent on explaining that he had had nothing to do with any kind of radicalization. What he told me was I was not his teacher. If I had been his teacher, I would have made sure that he knew that doing something like this was wrong.

TAPPER: Not clear whether any other Mishas are on investigators' radars. But they're also looking at what role his mother may have played in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's radicalization.

ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, MOTHER OF SUSPECTS: What have you done? What have you done with my son? He was alive.

TAPPER: A U.S. official tells CNN that Russia intercepted a communication in 2011 between the suspect's mother and someone who may have been one of her sons. And they were discussing jihad. Sources say she was added to the U.S. TIDE terrorism database at the same time as her son after the Russians tipped off the U.S. in 20011.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: The older brother had been radicalized. He certainly had very strong radical tendencies, probably his mother did as well.

TAPPER: She jumped bail on shoplifting and destruction of property charges in 20012 and returned to Dagestan. We know that Tamerlan Tsarnaev travelled to Russia in 2012. His time there and whom he interacted with are now the subject of intense scrutiny by investigators. After he returned from Russia in July to the U.S., he could no longer keep his extreme views to himself at the Boston mosque he attended.

(on camera): Mosque officials describe Tamerlan Tsarnaev as extreme and disruptive. Last November after one preacher argued it was OK for Muslims to celebrate American holidays like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, alongside Muslim holidays, Tamerlan stood up and challenged that idea. Then, in January of this year, after one preacher praised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Tamerlan stood up and called the preacher a hypocrite, and a nonbeliever, said he was contaminating people's minds.

NICHOLE MOSSALAM, EXEC. DIR., ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON MOSQUE: It was our community members first and foremost who stood up and told him, what you're doing is wrong. Just to think, you know, that the person standing next to you, that you prayed with, that you bared your soul before God with, was capable of something of this nature -- just it goes beyond anything.

TAPPER: There's another "x" factor in determining what led Tamerlan Tsarnaev down the path of extremism and in some ways, it's the most troubling.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: It does look like a lot of the radicalization was self-radicalization online.

TAPPER: That seems to support what the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has reportedly told investigators. Sermons by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki were likely to have been among the videos they watched, according to U.S. government official. And sources also tell CNN that one of the bombs found last week is very similar to a design found in an online magazine published by an al Qaeda affiliate. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And this is just in to CNN: For the very first time, we're hearing the voice of an alleged terrorist. A new video is now circulating online of suspect number two, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And it's not video of him on the run from the police or being taken into custody after allegedly murdering four people.

It's cell phone video of the suspect before the bombings, playing with his niece. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV, ALLEGED BOMBER: Why did you burp in my face? You burped in my face!

NIECE: No burp face.

TSARNAEV: Get out!

NIECE: No go!

SARNAEV: Get out of my room!

NIECE: No room go!

TSARNAEV: I said get out!

Give me kiss.

NIECE: OK.

TSARNAEV: No. Give me a kiss. Attagirl. Now, get out.

NIECE: No get out.

TSARNAEV: OK, OK. Come here. Give me another kiss.

NIECE: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That video was uploaded to Tsarnaev's Twitter page in March of this year. Though, the exact shot date is unknown.

Tsarnaev is currently in solitary confinement at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. It's a federal prison facility in the central part of the commonwealth, specializing in long-term medical care. His condition is said to have been stabilized and he is now able to speak. He's reportedly been interacting with hospital staff.

Suitcases, Backpacks, even plastic shopping bags -- all of them chock-full of cash. We'll find out what the CIA got in return for paying off Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

And later, communication breakdown. The Russians called the feds and told them they were watching Tamerlan Tsarnaev. So why didn't anybody do anything to stop him?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: You're looking at images from the makeshift memorial that has popped here at Copley Square in Boston, in the Back Bay neighborhood.

Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We'll get back to the Boston terrorist investigations in a moment. But fist, I want to turn to our "World Lead". "The New York Times" is reporting that the CIA -- and this is a technical term -- quote, "made it rain in Afghanistan." What does that mean?

That means they delivered bags of cash over the years to President Hamid Karzai's office in the hopes of gaining some influence. Karzai confirmed receiving the money during a tour of northern Europe today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: Yes. The office of the national security adviser has been receiving support from the United States government for the past 10 years, monthly, in a not big amount, though, small amount, which has been used for various purposes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: In fact, Karzai had told our own Barbara Starr, our Pentagon reporter, back in 2010, that the U.S. was providing cash to his office just like Iran was.

Now, while it's unclear whether President Karzai has personally spent any of this money, this development certainly raises some serious questions about the tactics used in the Afghanistan war.

Joining me now to discuss the implications is Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador and deputy United Nations special representative in Afghanistan. He's now a senior diplomatic fellow the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

Peter, it's nice to see you again.

I want to get your reaction. Are you at all surprised by the news that the CIA was dropping off bags of cash to President Karzai's office?

PETER GALBRAITH, CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION: I wasn't totally surprised because it's the sort of thing that we sometimes do, but I think this is all very unwise and it's indicative of the problems that we're facing in Afghanistan. Here we are portraying Hamid Karzai as the properly elected, legitimate president of Afghanistan. We're trying to fight corruption. And at the same time an agency of the government is dropping off millions of dollars, sometimes in shopping bags, to the president. No accounting, clearly, being used for purposes, maybe semi-governmental purposes like bribing lawmakers.

But with all the corruption that's swirling around the country, don't quite know whose pockets it's been going into.

TAPPER: Peter, I guess the big question is, are we at least getting what we're paying for?

GALBRAITH: What we've been paying for in Afghanistan is not the -- with the millions of dollars that have been channeled to Mr. Karzai personally, but with the $500 billion or $600 billion and the lives of Americans and also the effort of our allies. So, small-scale payments to the president shouldn't be the key issue. But if we're dealing with him, or we have somebody who has accused us of working with the Taliban, has accused us of rigging the election that he himself stole, it's a bit bizarre.

So, the answer is probably: no, we're not. One of the reasons we're doing it apparently is that the Iranians are doing it and they're doing it the same way, putting money into shopping bags.

TAPPER: And we should make clear, of course, that you have a somewhat tumultuous relationship with President Karzai. You've accused him certainly with not -- you know, certainly not out of nowhere -- but you accused him of corruption and especially after the August 2009 elections that were widely perceived as full of fraud, all of which you still stand by I assume, correct?

GALBRAITH: Well, of course. He produced a million phony votes from the election commission that he had appointed in the 2009 elections. His family -- there are allegations of corruption surrounding his family and Afghanistan itself ranks as the third most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.

TAPPER: I'm trying to imagine what the other two must be.

But Peter Galbraith, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

GALBRAITH: Jake, good talking to you again.

TAPPER: Coming up -- he's played on six NBA basketball teams, but now Jason Collins is going down in the history books as the first active pro-athlete in the United States to come out of the closet, one who plays a major team sport.

And -- making big bucks off of Boston. We'll show you how contractors and investors are cashing in after this tragedy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)