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Female DNA Found On Boston Bomb; Privacy Versus Freedom

Aired April 29, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, investigators say they have found female DNA on parts of a bomb that was detonated in Boston and this news comes on the very same day that police spent 90 minutes at the home of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow. What was in the evidence bag that they removed from the home today?

Plus "Misha" revealed. The mysterious man accused of radicalizing Tamerlan Tsarnaev is found and speaks. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin tonight OUTFRONT with breaking news, a major development in the Boston bombing case. Investigators have found female DNA on at least one of the bombs used in the attacks. What exactly does that mean? We're going to get right to that along with all the other angles of the story tonight in Boston.

Susan Candiotti and Paula Newton have the latest on the investigation. In Rhode Island, Erin McPike on what the FBI found at Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife's house today. In New York, Deb Feyerick with the latest on a possible link between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a known Jihadist, and in Washington, D.C., Tom Foreman with a look at how authorities could have prevented the attack and at what cost to America's privacy and freedom.

But I want to go to Boston, first and Susan Candiotti with this breaking news. Susan, what do you know about the female DNA that investigators apparently have found on one of the bombs used in Boston?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, certainly this is an intriguing and a very important development. By finding that female DNA on one of the pressure cookers, it certainly helps move forward this investigation. We know that investigators have been looking for any kind of evidence among the remains of the pressure cooker bomb, looking for hair samples, any DNA samples, for fingerprints, for example.

Now we know that it has tested positive for DNA. We also know that today the FBI retrieved a DNA sample from Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell, at her parents' home in Rhode Island. Now just because they took a DNA sample and even if hers should match the female DNA sample on the pressure cooker, it doesn't necessarily implicate her or any other particular female in terms of whether they had anything to do with the preparation or the construction of the bomb.

Because, for obvious reasons, our sources caution us that it could also mean that a female at any time could have come into contact with any portion of the bomb, maybe even before this pressure cooker was even put together, a wide range of people. So, it could involve perhaps, if it's not her DNA, it could be possibly her daughter's DNA. That match has not yet been made or it could belong to somebody else all together. But certainly, Erin, it does move this case forward.

BURNETT: It certainly does. We're going to find out a lot more. Susan said, obviously, significant development. But if it is the wife's DNA, is it possible she wasn't involved? We're going to talk more about that with a forensic expert in a moment.

But as Susan indicated, FBI investigators spent 90 minutes today inside the family home of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell. That's where Russell has been living since the bombings. Now she was at the residence when investigators arrived.

Erin McPike was also there outside the home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Erin, as we talk about the fact that now female DNA has been found on one of the bombs. You saw them today remove something very specific from Katie Russell's home.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Erin. We saw these FBI investigators go in with evidence-gathering equipment. So that included a black case that one of these investigators was hugging against her chest when she came out.

Another that was a big, black briefcase or looked like a big, black briefcase, sort of hard shell sort of equipment case. There was a clear plastic cylinder that looked like a two-liter soda bottle. But of course, the most interesting thing was this clear plastic bag marked DNA samples and it had what looked like kits and a pair of scissors in it, but DNA samples was clearly written on that bag -- Erin.

BURNETT: Obviously, everyone is going to be asking a lot of questions about what the significance of that could be in light of our reporting on the DNA, on the bomb. We know also, Erin, that Katie Russell left the home with investigators, or at the same time as investigators, I guess. She has now returned back. Do you know where they went?

MCPIKE: They went to her attorney's office where she was meeting with federal investigators for about 90 minutes there as well. They have since come back to the house, as you mentioned. But Erin, I should point out that there are still federal investigators or some sort of federal presence still stationed outside this house as they've been the past week -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Erin McPike, thank you very much, reporting from Rhode Island tonight. Female DNA on at least one of the bombs, the breaking news tonight and that's what authorities are saying, as they continue investigating the Boston marathon terror attacks.

Now we want to emphasize, it's unclear whose DNA it is and it is unclear whether, when we find out who that person is, that person actually helped build the bomb or carry out the attacks. It could be a crucial link.

OUTFRONT tonight, Dr. Larry Kobilinsky joins me on the phone. He is a forensic expert and adviser to the State Department, regarding forensic science laboratories in the Ukraine. Good to have you with us, Lawrence.


BURNETT: All right, so let me just ask you -- I know there are a variety of scenarios here. But obviously, they are collecting DNA from the wife. They now have female DNA on the bomb. But just make this clear, she could have, if it is her DNA -- and we'll get to why it could be someone else's in a moment. She could have come into contact with this and not have anything to do with making it, right?

KOBILINSKY: That's absolutely correct. You know, we're talking about skin cells. We're talking about touch DNA. Simply by touching an object, you leave your cells and you leave your DNA behind. One of the problems, though, with DNA is that we don't know when the DNA got on the object. It could have been a day, a week. It could have been two weeks before anything happened with respect to the construction of the bomb.

So, we can't jump to any conclusions. The good news is that we have some information. We must have genetic information about, you know, who came into contact with the bomb or parts of the bomb. We know that DNA survives explosions. So, we were fully expecting to get some genetic information. I think the surprise is that it's from a female. And, obviously, this DNA is to comparative science, you need to match it to something to make any sense out of it.

BURNETT: So they're obviously clearly looking at the wife? They have to be. She lived in that apartment. But when you talk about DNA on a bomb, is there a way for them to know, for example, whether the DNA on the bomb fragment came from a possible victim or is it somewhere so embedded in the DNA of the bomb, for lack of a better word, that you would be able to say, well, this DNA is likely from someone who was around during the building process as opposed to a victim?

KOBILINSKY: No, Erin. You raise a good point. DNA could be from one of the victims. It most likely would have been in the form of blood rather than skin cells. But, again, we're talking about a comparative science. And we're talking about the source of that DNA on the bomb. You need to compare it with something. You need to have some other profile to make the comparison. And that's why Katherine Russell is an obvious choice. It certainly is possible that it came from one of the victims as well. We have to interpret what we see.

BURNETT: All right, if the DNA -- they're checking her DNA. If it ends up being that it is her DNA, how do they make a link that she then knew about it and what its purposes were as opposed to, for example, touching a pressure cooker that her husband took out of the box and left on the kitchen counter? KOBILINSKY: Erin, you raise an absolutely perfect question there. All we can say is that her DNA is associated with the bomb or a part of the bomb. How it got there, when it got there, could it have gotten there simply? Of course, but it certainly gives us more leads and the focus of the investigation would then be on her if, in fact, it was a match.

BURNETT: All right, well, Lawrence, thank you very much. We appreciate your taking the time. As we have reported, investigators with a lot of questions about several people, one of whom is Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, who lived in that small apartment and in very close quarters with her husband in the months leading up to the bomb and in the days after the bomb exploded.

Still to come, a mysterious man named "Misha," you may have heard of him. He has been accused of radicalizing Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The person, the one person who has spoken to "Misha" is OUTFRONT.

Plus, surveillance cameras have provided key information during the investigation, should we just give up our privacy in this country? Because after all, if you're not doing anything bad, why do you care if they're watching you?

And the dramatic rise in female suicide bombers. An OUTFRONT investigation into black widows, coming up.


BURNETT: Prosecutors are building their case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and they are relying on a crucial piece of evidence, surveillance cameras. You know there were so many of them around there. While these eyes in the sky have provided key intelligence, there's no question about it, intelligence that led to the suspect's being identified, the security and surveillance comes at what price to Americans' privacy? Our Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before the brothers reach Boylston Street, before the bombs and the hunt that followed, could police have been watching them and, frankly, all of us more carefully? That is the center of a fiery debate in Washington and the answer is complicated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The technology exists. It's just that our constitution protects you from having that put in place against you.

FOREMAN: The potential technological power available to police is immense. First, more cameras, the number of surveillance cameras has exploded since 9/11. In Chicago alone, the American Civil Liberties Union estimates there are around 10,000 private and public surveillance cameras. Along with facial recognition software and that could allow police to track many thousands of people every minute.

Second, more monitoring of communications and travel, if police tapped into our cell phones, computers and GPS units, they could collect a wealth of information about almost everything any one of us is doing. And, third, more security on the scene at large events. More searches, more metal detectors, more officers questioning and frisking anyone who might even look like trouble.

Mind you, aside from the legal restraints on such eaves dropping, security experts warn making these measures work in a country of 300 million would be tough. Just think of the sheer volume of data to be processed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, law enforcement doesn't want to capture all of that. Most of us are not doing bad things. Law enforcement wants to figure out who they need to focus on and who they can just let go.

FOREMAN: Still, the bigger question remains. Does freedom from terror have to mean less freedom overall? For OUTFRONT, Tom Foreman, Washington.


BURNETT: It's a big question. It's one after 9/11 this country had to address. Now we have to address it again. OUTFRONT, Matt Welch, he is the editor-in-chief of "Reason" magazine and Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary and CNN contributor.

Ari, let me start with you because you've been in the middle of this controversy before, obviously, as we all know. Forty-eight percent of people, according to "The Washington Post" after the Boston bombings, worry the government is going to too far, 41 percent say the government won't go far enough. So split pretty much evenly right now.

Do -- does our government need to go further? Because you can make the argument, look, if they had more ability to watch over people, they could have stopped these guys from killing and injuring all these people to begin with.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Erin, there's a forever strain between liberty and security in our country. And that particularly gets tested at a time when something happened in Boston or after September 11th. And I'm reminded of one of the most beautiful sayings I ever heard which happened to be at a law school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the president of Harvard University once said that laws are the restraints that make us free, which is an amazing paradox, if you think about a restraint can make us free.

But that's what civil society is. And when times are tense and there's a security risk to our country I err on the side of law enforcement. And there is -- and this is a good debate to get into. A libertarian inside we all should listen to. But at the end of the day I come down on the side of we need to protect the people, protect the people, so you don't just get massacred by walking into a street. And that's, I think, the action the Boston Police took in that spirit.

It's also why we have those security cameras up, not to invade our privacy but protect us and keep us free. BURNETT: And, Matt, he makes a good argument. I mean, when people think about it, they may not want those cameras. But if it's going to save their life or someone they know or stop a bombing like this, why wouldn't you have them?

MATT WELCH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REASON MAGAZINE: Well, I mean, for one, we have this sort of false notion that it's a one to one trade- off, right? There's the -- the balance between liberty and security. And if we just take away some of the liberty, then the security goes like this. I kind of reject that. I mean, if that was true, the most secure, the most surveillance state country in the world would be the most secure.

Well, East Germany wasn't secure. Ultimately, it was unstable. It was vulnerable because you can't suppress freedom that much and get away with it. Right? So it's not necessarily tension. Open societies, open countries tend to be safer and freer at the same time. So in the case of Boston, you can't just have security cameras all over the place run by the government. It's not efficient for one because it relies on central intelligence. So it's -- we have to be mindful of constitutional restraints here.

BURNETT: But hasn't the threat, in a sense, change? You talk about East Germany. The threat, though, here has changed, these are -- these are self-radicalized jihadists, they're hard to find any other way. I mean, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who I know you disagree with on a lot of things on this, but he said, look, the world has changed and our interpretation of the Constitution is going to have to change.

In a "New York Daily News" op-ed a federal judge noted the word privacy isn't even in the Constitution.

WELCH: Yes, you know the --


BURNETT: Abortion discussion for that, but it's not actually in there as a right.

WELCH: The world has changed. It's gotten safer. We have less terrorism in this country than we did in the 1970s. There aren't people launching pipe bombs on every street corner in Greenwich Village anymore. That era is done. We're not hijacking planes and going to Cuba every other weekend. It's actually gotten safer in this country. So yes, it has changed, what shouldn't change is the idea that there should be a restraint, something in between the government's desire to do something and an individual's right to walk around free of unreasonable search and seizure.

BURNETT: Ari, let me ask you. The FBI is saying look, that these brothers could have learned to build these bombs online. And they're saying, if Google, if the company had been forced to tell us that these guys are coming to these kind of websites, then we could have found them. And I looked up the other day, you know, how to build a pipe bomb. I mean, the results are limitless. It's unbelievable. I find it shocking they can't -- they wouldn't have to report that.


BURNETT: Is it worth saying Google, if people are looking for those kinds of things, you have to tell us?

FLEISCHER: No. Hey, I don't think we should start limiting what people can do online. I do think that the government does have a responsibility to keep as accurate a list of potential suspects as possible. The FBI's job after September 11th is to work with other agencies. So if somebody is on a list for good reason, the FBI should be able to do a good job in potentially surveilling that person all within the rule of law.

You have to have as a starting point that you reason to suspect somebody is doing something and not have a dragnet to suspect all just for the simple act of going online. That would go too far.

But, you know, about the earlier point, the thing you have to remember is we're not East Germany. That's a very valid point about totalitarianism versus freedom. And freedom is the right side and will win. But this needs to be seen on the American continuum, where we're not about to become totalitarian, but we do need to be safe.

And one of the reasons we don't have planes hijacked to Cuba is because we yielded our liberties and we walk through metal detectors now. We even take off our shoes in the more recent era. So these are the legitimate tensions in a democracy between security and freedom. It's not a one up, one down. But there is a tension. And the fact that we walk through a metal detector to get on flight is a yielding of some liberty for the sake of security.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you.

And viewers, let us know what you think. To go to a marathon, would you walk through a metal detector? After all that could have caught the bombs. Would you do it? Or is that going too far?

Again, thanks to both of you.

And still to come new details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's trip to Russia and whom he may have contacted there.

Plus a manhunt now underway in northern California. Police searching for a man suspected of killing an 8-year-old girl. We'll be right back.


BURNETT: A manhunt is underway tonight in northern California after an 8-year-old child, a little girl, was found stabbed to death in her home.

Leila Fowler was killed on Saturday as she and her 12-year-old brother were home alone in Valley Springs, that's about an hour south of Sacramento. Police say Fowler's brother is not a suspect at this time but are continuing to talk to him since he was the last person to see his sister alive.

Paul Vercammen is OUTFRONT in California tonight.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (voice-over): Sheriff's deputies on foot and in patrol cars made their presence seen at Jenny Lind Elementary School. This is where Leila Fowler, the 8-year-old girl stabbed to death in her Valley Spring home over the weekend, attended third grade. Some classmates held flowers for Leila, their parents held on to fear.

WENDY CONVERSE, VALLEY SPRINGS PARENT: I'm scared for my kids and for the family. It's horrible. He was friends with her in the class, they're classmates, they sit together at school. It's very sad. Things like that don't happen here.

VERCAMMEN (on camera): And, Elijah, tell us about what you have and why.

ELIJAH, FRIEND: I'm sad. She was -- I didn't want her to die.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Leila's mother told CNN via Facebook, "We are devastated. And she was so full of life. Look at our baby girl, she didn't deserve this."

Police say Leila and her 12-year-old brother were home alone Saturday when he saw an intruder leaving the house. He then found his sister stabbed, severely wounded. She later died. Since then, police have been running down leads but have no specific suspect.

CAPT. JIM MACEDO, CALAVERAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We're searching, you know, extensively into attics and storage sheds. It is a difficult area to search, it's rural, remote. The grass is tall right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of empty homes and outbuildings around here, a lot of huge rock proppings where somebody can hide in.

VERCAMMEN: Authorities have combed the home and the neighborhood for evidence.

MACEDO: We did collect some fingerprints during that search and we also collected what we believe to be DNA. Those prints and that DNA will hopefully be processed within the next week.

VERCAMMEN: Michael Range lives near the Fowlers and heard of Leila's deadly stabbing from a neighbor boy.

MICHAEL RANGE, VALLEY SPRINGS PARENT: And I took my kids instantly and locked the doors, and waited to find out actually what happened. So it was scary. I mean, we've been inside all weekend.

VERCAMMEN: A lot of residents here feel trapped, pinned down after the mysterious death of Leila Fowler, who would have turned 9 in June.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, Valley Springs, California.


BURNETT: We're going to keep following that story.

Still to come, more on the breaking news that we told you about at the top of the hour. Investigators have found female DNA on one of the bombs used in the marathon attack.

And then who is Misha? We are learning more about the mysterious man authorities believe radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The only man who had speak to Misha is next.


BURNETT: I want to get back to breaking news in the Boston marathon bombing attacks tonight, because authorities are now saying that they found female DNA on at least one of the bombs.

Now, I want to make it very clear at this point, while this could be a significant development, it is not clear whose DNA it is, and it is not clear whether it means a woman actually helped to carry out the attacks. But investigators obviously are searching for any link.

Our Joe Johns is in Washington tonight with the latest.

And, Joe, what does this development mean exactly?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, everything you said is on point. Sources tell CNN that, yes, female DNA was discovered on a fragment of one of the bombs of the Boston marathon. They're obviously trying to find out whose DNA it was.

They did apparently take DNA samples today at the family home of Katherine Russell, who is Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow.

Now, what could this mean? We don't know. But the law enforcement sources we talked with stressed that DNA that they found at the location of the bombing could be belong to anyone who came into contact with virtually any of the consumer products that were used to make the bomb. So, it may well not implicate anyone of anything. It could have ended up on a battery. There was a battery there, a remote control there.

Obviously, as far as we can tell, there was certainly something on the pressure cooker. And there were probably a lot of handlers in the chains of commerce as all these products went to market.

So, it's not to speculate. All we know is that they have DNA. They're not sure what it means and it belongs to a female -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Joe Johns, thank you very much. And just to add to that as we get ready to go to Deb Feyerick, forensic expert a few moments ago telling me there's a big difference between skin cell DNA and blood DNA. That blood DNA could have indicated that this came from a victim. Skin cell DNA from someone along that supplied chain as Joe indicated, or perhaps from the woman more intimately involved in the making of the bombs.

Well, Deb Feyerick is in New York tonight with new information on another front in the bombing investigation tonight -- because investigators, Deb, are now looking at a possible link between Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother, and a jihadist in Russia who died in a firefight with police while Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in the region, right?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And, clearly, that's one of the red flags that makes it so interesting to investigators.

But what we're learning is that they're looking into the possible link between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a young boxer, a Canadian-turned- jihadi by the name of William Plotnikov. Now, Plotnikov and six others that were killed in the Dagestan region in July of 2012. That's exactly the same time that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in the very same region.

Plotnikov's body was prepared for burial by an imam on July 14th. They believe it was brought down from the mountains and prepared for burial. And then a few days later, Tamerlan left Dagestan and went to Moscow where he caught a plane to return to the United States.

Now, why that's interesting -- the time line of this is that Tamerlan was actually waiting for his Russian passport to arrive. He had applied at an office in Dagestan, he was waiting for the document, the Russian passport to arrive, and he left without it. And that's what makes it so curious.

When he flew into New York, he did have a passport and his permanent resident card. Two documents that he would have to enter the United States. But it's curious as to why he would have left that region without his new passport. That's why they're looking at this closely --Erin.

BURNETT: Yes. Amazing, especially if that was, you know, extensively the reason why he was going.

Now, investigators, I know, Deborah, are also looking for a link between Tamerlan and another militant. And what's the connection in that case? I mean, obviously, the whole thing is, did he learn how to build these bombs there, was he radicalized there? And now, there's another guy, too.

FEYERICK: Exactly, exactly. The other link is with a man by the named Mahmoud Mansur Nidal. He was an 18-year-old man, also from that region, also training, considered to be a known associate of Abu Dujan, who is this sort of warlord and Islamic extremist -- a warlord and an Islamic extremist, who was killed back in May of 2012. So what we see happening here is the creation of the timeline where Russian counterterrorism forces are really going after these rebels who are in the mountains. So, you have first the death of Mahmoud Mansur Nidal in May of 2012, and then you have the death of this Canadian jihadi, William Plotnikov.

So, whether those two deaths influenced Tamerlan to basically get out of Dagestan, that's what they're looking at right now. There's still no direct link that he met specifically with these people. That's what's been so frustrating to investigators as they sort of -- he was in the right place at the right time. They're just trying to link him there definitively, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to Deb Feyerick. Obviously, that could be another crucial link.

And another one is this. The mysterious Misha. You heard the name by now. He is said to have influenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev and reportedly has come forward saying he had no role in the bloodshed. His denial comes at the same time the CNN has learned the FBI has interviewed the man, Misha, who is from Rhode Island, about his ties to the Tsarnaev family.

OUTFRONT now, the man who spoke to Misha, Christian Caryl from "The New York Review of Books."

And, Christian, thanks very much for coming on.

You know, you caught Misha and his family by complete surprise when you went to the home. Misha, you said his real name is Mikhail Allakhverdov. And, obviously, you'll say it right if I'm mispronouncing it.

And then you described him as a 39-year-old man of Armenian- Ukrainian descent, of medium height, with think -- his thin, reddish blond beard.

What more can you tell us about what he was like?

CHRISTIAN CARYL, SENIOR FELLOW, LEGATUM INSTITUTE: Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me on, Erin. It's a great honor.

He was a very interesting character. I'm not sure what I was expecting. But the man I met certainly did not fit the description, purely superficial terms, of a kind of Islamic mastermind who was manipulating people. He seemed actually rather agitated and very, very nervous and -- but despite that, he was quite welcoming. His family was very welcoming.

And I was struck when I was invited into the home by the family, how much he resembled the physical description in general terms that we'd heard from some members of the Tsarnaev family. He's kind of medium height, little bit stocky, as you said, reddish-blond hair. And that matched in general terms of the physical description that the Tsarnaevs had given of him. BURNETT: Now, Christian, you know, Misha is a common name, obviously, in Russia, you know, as a nickname for Mikhail. Did you feel comfortable when you left talking to him that he was, in fact, the Misha that we've been hearing so much about. I mean, I know you're talking about the superficial resemblance to the description. But did you feel confident that this is the guy?

CARYL: I really did, Erin, because, first of all, I heard about him from some Russian-speaking sources in Boston that I had found who have not yet spoken to the press. I'll be writing about them in my next article for "The New York Review." And when I was talking to them, they were very kind. And they knew a lot about the Tsarnaev family because they had associated with the Tsarnaevs for many years and they were actually quite eager to tell their story.

And as they were telling me their story, Misha's name came up and I said, oh, well, that's interesting. Did you know him? They said, oh, yes, we knew him quite well. He was hanging around. We didn't -- you know, we thought he was a very nice, kind of harmless guy. We don't understand why the Tsarnaevs are saying these things about him.

And then I asked him if they knew his name and they did, and they said that he lived in Rhode Island. There's only one person by that name in Rhode Island. There are not very many Armenians who converted to Islam. And Mikhail confirmed that detail to me when I saw him.

And again, there's this physical description that matches. When I arrived at the apartment, I almost -- they understood immediately why I was there. I identified myself as a journalist.

BURNETT: Right. And you were talking in Russian, right? A lot of people watching are saying, you know, you were able to communicate fully in Russian. I'm correct, right?

CARYL: We spoke a lot of the time in Russian. Sometimes, we spoke English. He speaks very good English with a rather pronounced Russian accent. His parents, with his parents I spoke almost entirely Russian.

BURNETT: All right. Now, one thing I want to ask you about -- you had a conversation about how well he knew the family. We've been hearing these different family members saying Misha this, Misha that, that has led to this, you know, outside perception of his importance here. Misha told you he'd never met Tsarnaev's family members, but obviously, the suspect's mother said he was in their home, praying with them.

And here is what she told our Nick Paton Walsh.


ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECTS' MOTHER: When Misha visited us, we just kind of -- he just opened our eyes, you know, really wide about Islam. He was really -- he was devoted and very good, very nice man.


BURNETT: So what do you make of that? He's saying he never really met the family members and she's kind of going into detail about his devotion to Islam.

CARYL: Yes. No -- well, I have to clarify a little bit. What he told me was that he had not met the uncle.


CARYL: Uncle Ruslan and the brother-in-law in Kazakhstan, who were the ones who specifically accused him of radicalizing Tamerlan. He definitely knew the mom.


CARYL: He didn't deny that.

But what he denied is that he had some kind of radicalizing influence on Tamerlan.

BURNETT: And when you talk to him about Islam and his beliefs in Islam, what did you come away with?

CARYL: Well, I came away with a sense that he was certainly very sincere in his beliefs, but, you know, I covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've met a lot of jihadis.

This guy did not give me the impression of being a kind of Islamist extremist. His American girlfriend was sitting there on the couch in her shorts. I mean, admittedly, I surprised him on a Sunday at home, but she was not wearing hijab. She was not, in any way, kind of confined from speaking with me.

Now, look, Erin, this is a very superficial impression, I completely admit it. And I have to emphasize that this was not a formal sit-down inter interview. I surprised these people. They were very upset and agitated, and I tried to ask a lot of questions about all of the things we want to know the answers to.


CARYL: And they just didn't want to go there. So, the story is not over. There were a lot of questions we still have to answer.

BURNETT: Right. But at least you have a sense of this person better than anyone else. We appreciate you sharing it with us. Thanks, Christian.

CARYL: Thanks.

BURNETT: And authorities tracing the suspect's activities in the weeks before the bombing are now focusing on the Tsarnaev brother's home in Cambridge, that small apartment we've talked so much about. If, as suspected, the brothers planned the marathon bombings in that apartment, did they leave behind crucial evidence as to where or from whom the explosives came from?

Paula Newton is OUTFRONT.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The flags are lowered even on Norfolk Street, the place the Tsarnaevs called home -- a sobering reminder that this isn't over. There is still much to learn about the suspected bombers and their motives.

MARY SILVERMAN, TSARNAEVS' NEIGHBOR: You know, my window looks over their bedroom window.

NEWTON: For Mary Silverman, the mystery started when she wasn't allowed to go home.

SILVERMAN: Law enforcement said you can't go in. I said, why can't I go into my house? He said, well, you're afraid of explosives and then I -- it dawned on me, of course, they're probably thinking that they made the explosives inside the house.

NEWTON: Silverman is terrifyingly close to where the suspects could have put together their plan and their bombs.

(on camera): Were those drapes always drawn over there?

SILVERMAN: Always. Those had been drawn. They never had them open. It seemed odd to me.

NEWTON (voice-over): This third floor apartment clearly didn't give up all the Tsarnaevs secrets. The FBI has confirmed to CNN they are still on the hunt for explosives and still questioning people.

A short distance away --

ALLA BELUBEKIAN, WATERTOWN RESIDENT: I can see a bullet on the left of that window in the second floor.

NEWTON (on camera): And you didn't even know?

BELUBEKIAN: No, we didn't notice that. There was so much shooting.

NEWTON (voice-over): Alla Belubekian shows me where the stray bullet pierced through her sitting room.

BELUBEKIAN: Right through this wall.

NEWTON: Through that wall and then buried in a sofa cushion.

Police took the bullet away, telling her it was one of 69 stray bullets that hit homes and cars as police battled their way through a bloody shootout with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

(on camera): You can still see the damage from that kind of fire power here on Laurel Street. The Tsarnaev brothers were pinned down by police and still lobbing explosives at them. That's why there are still so many questions in this investigation. Where did they get the bombing material? How and where did they put those bombs together? And, crucially, did they have any help?

BELUBEKIAN: Really, really scared when I heard explosions and (INAUDIBLE) no joke.

NEWTON: Belubekian says she left the war in the Caucasus never imagining it would follow her to her new home. She has the same thought that must be nagging at police.

BELUBEKIAN: I think it's really hard for two boys to plan all that on their own.

NEWTON (on camera): Yes. You think they must have had help?

BELUBEKIAN: I believe so.


BURNETT: Now, Paula, do you know what investigators have found so far in terms of evidence from the explosives? That is, quote- unquote, "holy grail" for them right now.

NEWTOWN: Two very important locations. One not far from me, of course, Erin, where the bombs went off. But very crucial, that shootout on Laurel Street. They had unexploded bombs there and I had a good look at them.

But, you know, Erin, the FBI made very clear to me, look, finding out where those explosives come from are a huge part of this investigation why. It can point to whether or not there are other people involved in this plot. Is there some kind of bombmaker out there, either in the United States or perhaps even in Russia that they don't know about?

That bombing signature, Erin, is just so crucial at this point. And they, in terms of executing any search warrants that they have right now have not found the missing link to tell them definitively where those bombs were made.

And another point, Erin, and it has been discussed many times, I've been in labs where scientists are trying to re-create these things, they don't work that often. Very often, you do have to test them. And that's a big part of this investigation right now, too.

BURNETT: Right. Testing and DNA they find there as well.

Well, thanks very much to Paula.

And still to come, a dramatic rise in female suicide bombers. And, of course, as you know, the mother, Tsarnaev brothers' mother a, quote-unquote, "person of interest." We're going to bring you an OUTFRONT investigation into the black widows -- women responsible for some of the most violent and deadly terror attacks in the world.

And days after a factory collapse trapped thousands of workers, the rescue team makes a dramatic decision.


BURNETT: As the Boston bombing investigation focuses on the Tsarnaev brothers' possible terror ties to Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya, one disturbing trend, in that part, is the rise of women suicide bombers. They actually have a name for them there. They're called "Black Widows", named that way because some are wives of insurgents killed by government forces who themselves then take up the cause and become suicide bombers.

Nic Robertson is in Dagestan with an OUTFRONT investigation.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In Dagestan's capital last May, an inferno. Moments earlier, a female suicide bomber known here as a "Black Widow" detonated a bomb at a police checkpoint. Minutes later, another blast. The following day reveals the full horror. The "Black Widow's" brother, driving a car bomb, blew this fire truck apart -- callous timing, killing the emergency service workers just as they arrived to put out the flames.

A brutal conflict spilling over from neighboring Chechnya, playing out as Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited his parents here last year.

(on camera): This is the same checkpoint. We can't stop here. Back then, the attack struck fear into the security services. And according to local journalists, for awhile, police were too afraid to patrol.

(voice-over): Rassul Kadiev, a defense lawyer, tells me Russian authorities are handling the female bombers all wrong.

RASSUL KADIEV, BLACK WIDOWS EXPERT: It's not criminal problem. It's social problem.

ROBERTSON: It is a problem that has been around over a decade, involving wives of rebels killed by government forces.

KADIEV (through translator): When a woman's husband is dead, she has no rights. She can't have a lover or boyfriend. She can't make any decisions. That's why, if she's religious, she becomes an easy target for suicide recruiters.

ROBERTSON: October 2002, 40 to 50 armed Chechen men and women took more than 800 hostages in one of Moscow's principal theaters. It was Russia's capital's deadliest modern day terror attack and the so- called "Black Widows" took a leading role, ready to die, detonating huge piles of explosives.

By the time the three-day siege was over, more than 170 people, including all the attackers, were dead. In 2010, two female suicide bombers attacked Moscow's subway. At least 40 people were killed. One of the attackers, a 17-year-old Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, fit the "Black Widow" profile perfectly. Her husband, Umalat Magomedov, a rebel leader, had been killed by security forces a few months earlier.

(on camera): Abdurakhmanova also represents a changing face of the "Black Widows". She's from here in Dagestan, not neighboring Chechnya, like so many of the "Black Widows" before her. It signals a shift in the battle front.

(voice-over): The so-called "Black Widows" are not holding back. This attack closed the Dagestan's capital, killing five policemen in March last year. A war with women in it unfolding around Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother.


BURNETT: Nic, as you said, unfolding around Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother, according to the House Foreign Affairs Chairman Royce, she's a person of interest. We have absolutely no idea as to her involvement, if there was any, but obviously law enforcement is looking very closely at her.

Would she fit the profile? I mean, she was estranged from her husband, is now back with him. But obviously if involved, wasn't doing anything herself, would have been more leading and manipulating.

ROBERTSON: There is certainly evidence of that in other conflicts where women have played this kind of role. She is perhaps older than the sort of average "Black Widow" age, somebody sort of perhaps in their late teens, perhaps in their early 20s, somebody who is relatively vulnerable in society.

And Zubeidat Tsarnaev doesn't really come across as somebody who is vulnerable. But certainly, she has come across with strong opinions and it is people like that who have been influential on men in their families in the past, Erin.

BURNETT: Nic, are women suicide bombers more effective than men?

ROBERTSON: They certainly create a lot of terror here. There are two reasons for that. Women in society here are generally sort of left to one side, if you will. Men don't really speak to them. So there's an ability there to sort of come into a situation where men are at a police checkpoint and they wouldn't suspect a woman necessarily.

And that's why it creates sort of such terror with the security forces, because women are ignored and they're not looking at them as potential attackers. So, that's one of the reasons here why they're an effective tool for the rebels, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Nic, thank you very much. Reporting live from Dagestan tonight.

And OUTFRONT next, the essay -- something the left and the right can agree on. There is a need for unions tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Rescue workers have called off a search for survivors in Bangladesh today. Last week, the eight-story Rana Plaza complex collapsed, trapping thousands and killing hundreds of garment workers. Most of them were young, impoverished women. And it could have been avoided.

Officials say the complex was built on spongy ground without the right permits and the building's owners ignored massive cracks. The government in Bangladesh has vowed to investigate conditions at the factories and the retailers that use that cheap labor like Walmart and the gap have set aside money to improve safety.

Yet we've heard this song before. Hundreds have been killed in similar disasters over the past decade, every time we hear it's going to stop. It has become obvious that the government and retailers cannot and will not police themselves.

Bangladesh has about 4,500 garment factories which account for 80 percent of the country's total exports. They're not going to do anything that gets in the way of that. In November, when we told you about a factory fire in Bangladesh that killed 112 workers, we said it was time for stronger unions to protect the rights of the workers.

We needed that in the beginning in the United States, too. Now, with another 400 dead, it is more important than ever. Will it finally be the time?

Thank you so much as always for watching. See you back here tomorrow night.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.