Return to Transcripts main page


Three Arrested in Relation to Boston Bombing; More Developments I Boston Bombing Case; Congress Expected More Arrests Relating to Boston Bombing

Aired May 1, 2013 - 12:30   ET


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: They wanted to get ahead of what is obviously a concern that there might be more attacks, making it clear that there's no public safety harms or any public safety threat at this time.

And from what I can tell so far from discussions I've had, these all have to do with after-the-fact attempts to escape, which is consistent with, you know, one of the theories we've been talking about which is the brothers seem to have no idea, once they put this thing together, no idea what to do with themselves once the attack was over.

They were like sort of watched it, were gleeful about the attack and then simply didn't have ideas.

So it looked like they were going to friends, trying to figure out a very, very unsophisticated exit plan which looks like it included asking college friends to dispose of duffel bags outside of a college dorm.

The last thing is, Wolf, I think and I just can't confirm right now, this will be before a federal court this afternoon. My guess is that, just given normal protocols, they'll probably all be in Boston, that you wouldn't want a related case to be in different federal courts throughout Massachusetts.

So while we have New Bedford and Dartmouth, both in play, there probably is a strong case to just bring everything to Boston where security is very strong and where the U.S. attorney's office is.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. And that's what Brian Todd's been reporting, that the federal court in Boston is probably going to be the scene where these three students will show up, will be brought probably within the next few hours, and the formal charges will be filed before a judge magistrate there in Boston in the federal court.

It was a little confusing, as you point out, because the first official word of these arrests came from Boston police, so the assumption was that the Boston police had arrested these three individuals.

The FBI was silent on that initial Boston tweet that went out when the Boston police said three individuals have been arrested, details to follow. We assumed it was Boston police doing it, but now we know that the FBI has formally gone ahead and arrested these individuals, two of whom have been questioned, as you pointed out, over the past several days for potential violations of their visas, their student visas, to attend the University of Massachusetts' Dartmouth campus and that's why they were being questioned.

Apparently, one of wasn't even attending classes. That would have been a violation of the student visa.

So we have the picture of the three of them, Juliette, at Times Square. And it causes a lot of heartburn and a lot of nervousness out there because of the fear, the suspicion, that these two brothers, if they would have -- if they wouldn't have been arrested, may have been heading to Times Square to plant a bomb, one of their pressure cooker bombs, or do some other horrible thing at Times Square.

So this visit to Times Square last year, it just brings that to the floor and raises serious questions.

KAYYEM: Right. Absolutely. And I think that's where the investigation will definitely go.

Look, I'm just going to say these are the easy charges to bring against these two defendants, not easy in the sense that we're being casual about it, but if you're a prosecutor and you want to hold them, you're going to bring the charges that are most easy to prove, which is that they lied to you during investigations and that they obstructed justice. That probably has to do with them disposing of evidence.

But what we don't know, and the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office have been clear about this case from the beginning, is that these initial charges always have the option -- you always have the option to add additional charges.

So, you know, in terms of just getting them under custody, you're going to bring the charges that you can sort of prove more easily. It could be that an investigation shows that they knew something of what the brothers had planned.

But right now, you know, just given what we're learning about the exit plan, right, the sort of post-marathon exit plan, it is looking much less sophisticated than that they were sort of going to do this and then plan a whole bunch of other things.

And that just contributes to an idea that they had contacts here in Massachusetts, perhaps other students. Doesn't mean that there weren't foreign connections. It just means that a lot of this planning went on here. That's why there's been so much focus in Boston.

And then, going to the point I said before, Wolf, that's why it is important that the Boston police are still a part of this. You know, there were discussions about how much they knew from the FBI about those original investigations several years ago.

Very important that the Boston police take management of the public safety issues here in the city given what this city has been through over the last two weeks.

And, you know, I'm glad they were the first to tweet because people just want to feel that their city is calm and moving on, so to speak.

BLITZER: Several members of Congress over the past few days broadly hinting they suspected there would be more arrests and today three additional arrests.

Juliette, stand by. We'll come back to you.

We'll take a quick break. We're getting more information coming into the CNN Newsroom from our reporters who are covering the story.

Dramatic news, three arrests, three additional arrests in the Boston bombing investigation.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We're following breaking news in the Boston bombing investigations.

I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Boston police say there have been three more arrests. We now know the FBI, federal authorities have arrested three individuals.

You see two of them there, two Kazakh -- two students from Kazakhstan who went to Times Square last year with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston bombings.

Those two students you see there from left to right on those photographs, we'll identify them. They have been named. To the furthest to the left is Azamat Tazhayakov, a student from Kazakhstan at the University of Massachusetts' Dartmouth campus, and Dias Kadyrbayev in the middle, right in the center, right next to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The third student arrested today, a U.S. citizen whom we have not yet identified.

Susan Candiotti is working her sources. She's on the ground for us. What else are you picking up, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, even more clarification and explanation for the charges that according to our law enforcement official is telling us that these men will be facing.

Now, these charges, remember, are twofold. One is lying to investigators and one is allegedly conspiring to obstruct justice. Excuse me.

The first one involving lying to investigators involves allegedly not telling the truth about knowing of the whereabouts after the bombing took place. That's what the charge is. As the FBI interviewed them, they allegedly lied about knowing about their whereabouts or seeing them after the bombing.

The second charge involves obstruction of justice, and here's where we have a bit of new information. We are told that this involves moving things. They are accused of allegedly moving things from a dorm room into a dumpster. Those things include, according to our official source, fireworks packed into backpacks and then thrown into a dumpster, possibly among other items as well.

Now these are the kinds of leads that I was told early on that kept authorities having a high interest in these individuals, in these students, who up until that point up, until today, only charged with student visa violations, allegedly for not attending classes regularly.

Well, now we know a bit more about that, so these leads are what led investigates to search a landfill near that college dorm for two days.

Now they've never said exactly what they did find. I'm told that they did not find a laptop.

However, I was given a "no comment" at the time about what they did find there. And now we know allegedly that they recovered, at least -- or rather, they learned anyway they were looking for backpacks filled with explosives as well as looking for a laptop.


BLITZER: Do we know if they ever found any of those things at that landfill?

CANDIOTTI: That remains unclear. Still working on that part of it, but perhaps we'll learn more when these charges are laid out and when they are possibly unsealed when these individuals make their first appearance in court as early as this afternoon.

BLITZER: And I just want to be clear on this, Susan, if in fact these three students knew that the FBI was searching for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, that he was suspected in the Boston bombing as a result of the photograph that the FBI had released and they then went ahead and spoke with them and he asked them to remove anything from that room, they did that.

That is basically a pretty serious charge dealing with this kind of sensitive material. These guys could wind up in jail for a long time potentially.

CANDIOTTI: These are very serious charges, Wolf. You're absolutely right.

If you know something about a crime allegedly having been committed and knowing that these individuals may be on the run as these two bombing suspects were, and if authorities can prove that, yes, indeed, that is a very, very serious crime to say the least.

BLITZER: Yeah. All right. Susan, I know you're getting more information. Brian Todd's getting more information. All of our reporters are getting more details.

We're awaiting an appearance, we suspect, in the coming hours by these three students in a federal courthouse in Boston.

They are now being held by the FBI, as Susan's been reporting, on charges of making false statements to federal authorities and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

We'll take a quick break, resume the breaking news coverage right after this.


BLITZER: All right. We're going to show you some video now. And this is exclusive video that CNN shot.


BLITZER (voice-over): This is back on April 20th in New Bedford, Massachusetts. You see federal authorities, federal agents, not arresting but detaining these two students from Kazakhstan, students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus on what was then described as immigration inquiries, whether they had violated their visas to attend the University of Massachusetts.

And you see police going to this apartment in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and bringing them into these vehicles, detaining them, bringing them down for questioning.

The students have now been identified, two of them, Azamat Tazhayako and Dias Kadyrbayev. These are students from Kazakhstan, who today have been arrested by federal authorities. And they, together with a U.S. citizen, have been charged with making false statements to federal authorities and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Brian Todd is working the story. He's in Boston for us.

Brian, you're over at the federal court in Boston, I take it, where these three individuals, one U.S. citizen and two from Kazakhstan, are expected to make an appearance later this afternoon?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They're expected here at the John J. Moakley (ph) U.S. Courthouse in Boston any time now, probably sometime this afternoon, we're told. Not clear the time that they're going to appear, but we have cameras all around for the time that they do show up here.

And again, the reporting that we have, according to sources, attorneys for them and also other sources familiar with this case that Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayako, the two Kazakhstani students who were at UMass Dartmouth with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are being charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.

Separately, we've got some information from a law enforcement official who has been briefed about the arrest, saying that the allegation is that these three people, these two students and another U.S. citizen who we have not named yet, are being accused of removing things from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room.

We, of course, know that a landfill was searched near UMass Dartmouth in the days after the bombings and after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested. Officials then were looking for a laptop; I believe Susan Candiotti has since reported that the laptop and possibly a backpack full of fireworks were some of the things that they were looking for in that search and didn't find them.

So what they were actually being charged with disposing of, that will probably come out in more detail this afternoon, but we are expecting them to appear at this courthouse later this afternoon, Wolf.

BLITZER: And usually in a situation like this they will, federal authorities, put out their formal documents, an affidavit, if you will, outlining the specific charges. They put that out on the Internet, very often as we know, those of us who have covered these kinds of federal cases.

Nothing has come out yet though, right, Brian?

TODD: Not as far as we know, Wolf. And one of the attorneys for one of these suspects told me that this was by way of a complaint, but as of a couple hours ago he said the complaint was still under seal. So some of that may be coming out online and maybe in papers that we'll get here at court this afternoon.

Also important to remember that it was on April 19th, just four days after the bombings, and it was the same day that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested, that three people, including these two suspects, were taken into custody at UMass Dartmouth or near UMass Dartmouth in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They were released that night for lack of evidence.

Then they were detained the next day on those visa violations, two of them were, not the third person. Again, not clear whether the third person who was taken into custody on April 19th is the same third person who now is being charged with obstruction of justice. We'll get some clarity on that later this afternoon.

BLITZER: I know we will. We do know the names of two of the individuals arrested today. And we also know these two students from Kazakhstan went to Times Square with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last year.

And that's the picture of the -- there were five of them. We don't know the -- we've blurred out the pictures, the faces of the other two who went to Times Square, but we now know three of them there, the two students from Kazakhstan plus Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

All right. We'll take a quick break, resume the special coverage right here on CNN NEWSROOM right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to the breaking news we're covering out of Boston, three arrests today in connection with the Boston bombing investigation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER (voice-over): Two students from Kazakhstan -- you see them there, these students, together with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, visiting Times Square last year; plus a third student, a U.S. citizen -- we have not yet identified that third person -- we do expect a court appearance before a federal judge later this afternoon in Boston with more details.

We know the charges so far, making false statements to federal authorities, conspiracy to obstruct justice -- presumably meaning trying to throw away potential evidence, including some backpacks discovered in the dormitory, in the room where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was staying at the University of Massachusetts.

Peter Bergen is our terrorism analyst, special national security analyst as well, knows a whole lot about this kind of stuff.

What do you make of this latest development, Peter?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the fact that the Boston police said there's no risk to public safety sort of speaks for itself. And these people, they are serious charges, lying to the Feds; that's what got Martha Stewart in trouble. And obstruction of justice is even more problematic.

But we're here on the second anniversary of bin Laden's death, Wolf, and it's sort of an interesting moment to reflect on what his legacy is.

Obviously Al Qaeda is in terrible shape, hasn't been able to do an attack on the United States since 9/11.

But bin Laden's most toxic legacy is really the ideology of bin Ladenism which does live on, and unfortunately the Brothers Tsarnaev seem to have signed up for that ideology, living in Boston. They're on the record as saying, the surviving brother, that it was the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that radicalized them and that they wanted to protest.

So even though bin Laden himself is dead, killing his ideas has proven more problematic than killing the man.

BLITZER: And you still suspect -- we don't know because this investigation is really still very much at an early stage -- whether these individuals, these suspects, were sort of self-inspired, if you will, or if they had a direct operational involvement with any sort of Al Qaeda affiliate or anything along those lines. That's what federal investigators are now trying to determine.

BERGEN: It wouldn't fit, Wolf, with the history of any successful or even unsuccessful bombing attacks in the United States from long before 9/11.

The first Trade Center attack in '93, the bombmaker trained overseas.

The unsuccessful Times Square attack in 2010, the bombers trained overseas.

The unsuccessful attempt to bomb the Manhattan subway in 2009, around the eighth anniversary of 9/11, the bomber trained overseas.

So I mean, it's a pattern that we've seen again and again. It defies common sense that two bombs would go off simultaneously without a minimum of significant practice and probably overseas training.

You know, it's one thing to blow up one bomb successfully; it's not -- it's more than twice as hard to blow up two bombs simultaneously.

BLITZER: And we know they had a third bomb as well, as police discovered in that shootout a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings.

All right. Peter, standby, we're going to continue our special coverage here in the CNN NEWSROOM, the breaking news out of Boston, three arrests; we're waiting for their appearance before a federal judge in Boston.


BLITZER: This is the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

We're following important breaking news out of Boston. Police now say three more people have been taken into custody in the marathon -- Boston Marathon bombing investigation.


BLITZER (voice-over): Here's the latest information. Here's what we know right now. At least two of the suspects are students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. They were classmates of the bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The two are from Kazakhstan, I should say, Kazakhstan. They're seen here in this picture, taken at Times Square with the 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.