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Three Arrested in Relation to Boston Bombing; Three Arrested Students Expected to Appear Before Federal Judge; Three People In Custody In Boston Case; Allegedly Assisted Dzhokhar By Disposing Evidence

Aired May 1, 2013 - 13:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: -- from Kazakhstan, I should say. Kazakhstan. They're seen here in this picture taken at Times Square with the 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The third suspect is a U.S. citizen whose identity we have not yet confirmed. Boston Police say all three are in the custody right now of the FBI. We anticipate they will appear before a federal judge in Boston within the next few hours with formal charges being read to them.

Susan Candiotti is in Boston. She's been following this story for us from the beginning. Give us more information on this dramatic new development today, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, you know, I must say that we've been hearing for quite some time that some additional arrests might be coming down the pike and sure enough this appears to be the case. We are learning more about these charges from two sources with whom we have been regularly in touch with. Here are the details. One of them is a charge about lying to investigators, the other is a conspiracy to obstruct justice. The lying part we are told according to one of our sources involves allegedly knowing about the whereabouts of the suspect or suspects of this -- of the bombing after the bombing took place. Knowing them or seeing them after the bombing took place.

The other charge of obstruction of justice involves allegedly disposing of items that were in a dorm room into a dumpster so getting rid -- allegedly getting rid of evidence that might be part of this case. More details on that, Wolf. We're learning from this same source that some of the things they got rid of included fireworks packed inside backpacks that were thrown into a dumpster. We also know, because we've been telling you about this for several days now, that those leads coming from both the interview with the suspect, according to our sources, as well as leads coming from their interviews with these students is what, in part, led investigators to that landfill located somewhat near the dorm where they were searching for where that dumpster had been thrown out, pitched out.

I am told that one of the things they had been looking for is a laptop but that was not recovered. But my sources would never tell me or comment on what was found. So, we don't know for sure whether, at this point, whether any fireworks were discovered or anything else for that matter -- Wolf. BLITZER: And the fireworks could be significant because they could be used to prepare to make the so-called pressure cooker bombs that were used in -- at the end of the Boston marathon.

CANDIOTTI: I'm glad you're pointing that out, that's right. We have been learning that one of the ingredients that was -- is believed to have allegedly been used to put the pressure cooker bombs together involved black powder. We know, according to the company that sold them, a fireworks company did sell and has on tape -- records, rather, fireworks being sold to the older brother. Now, authorities have said that alone wouldn't be enough fire power, but it mixed with other ingredients it could.

Remember, Wolf, that investigators still don't have any evidence they're telling us of whether that -- those bombs were tested here in the United States. Now, they're not excluding that possibility but they're still trying to figure that out. Or did they get the bomb someplace else? Who made them? Who gave the training to the people that put these bombs together, the bombing suspects? That's still a very active part of this investigation, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

CANDIOTTI: But this development today indicates that this investigation is far from over.

BLITZER: Yes, and the three arrests today, that's a pretty dramatic development indeed. Susan, stand by.

Pam Brown is just outside that federal courthouse in Boston. She's getting more information. What else are you learning, Pam?

PAM BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I'm right outside the federal courthouse here. We are awaiting for these three suspects to arrive here sometime today. We don't have an exact time, at this point. What we can tell you right now is this morning there was some sort of immigration hearing involving two of these suspects, their names are Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayako. These are two suspects that were initially taken into custody on the 19th. They were taken into custody from a dorm room at UMass Dartmouth, and then the next day they were arrested on immigrate -- on violating their student visas.

These are two students from Kazakhstan that know Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to sources, so they were being held on the student visa violation charges. And after that, authorities were trying to get information from these two students what they might have known about Tsarnaev. If they perhaps helped him in any way with the terror attack. So, authorities have been holding them for a little bit more than a week.

And then, after this hearing this morning, we found out there were three arrests, that two of the suspects are these two students from UMass Dartmouth. We know as Susan Candiotti said the third suspect that was arrested is a U.S. citizen. We don't know exactly the specifics about the charges for the third suspect, but we do know these -- they all involved something that happened after the terror attack. So, there is no threat to public safety, according to sources.

Again, we are awaiting for the three suspects to appear before a federal judge at some point today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pam, standby outside the courthouse -- the federal courthouse in Boston. Jake Tapper is working his sources. He's getting more information as well. What else are you picking up, Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, we should just say that White House press secretary James Carney was just asked about these arrests and he referred reporters to the FBI. He was asked if President Obama had been briefed and he also would not confirm that but said the president had been continuously briefed on this investigation.

But just to give a little bit more -- flush out a little bit more about these two suspects -- the three suspects who are being charged with obstruction of justice. Two of them obviously from Kazakhstan, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayako. I'm sure I'm botching those names, but they're being charged with obstruction of justice because law enforcement officials believe they disposed of fireworks and a laptop, at the very least, belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One government source tells me that what these students -- and there's a third student, an American student as well. What these students are claiming is that Dzhokhar reached out to them and asked them to dispose of these items. They did not know of his involvement in the terrorist attacks. This is what they're claiming. And they did it.

The timeline according to this U.S. government official is that this request from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came some time after the photographs of the suspects were released and that's about 5:15 on Thursday the 18th right after the bombing. But before the Tsarnaev names were publicized, that's the window that this one government U.S. official tells me, in which this request was made. As others have stated, there was this search of a landfill within the last few days, according to government officials. That's what officials -- law enforcement officials were looking for in the landfill, these fireworks and also this laptop.

Also interestingly, Wolf, officials are cautioning, first of all, that right now there is no evidence that these individuals, these three students knew anything about the attacks before they took place. So, far, there's no evidence. They're being charged with question -- they're being questioned about what they did and charged with what they did after the attacks.

But there's some interesting information and that is, first of all, Tazhayakov, the Kazak student, one of the two Kazak students, is said to have returned to Kazakhstan in December. On January 3rd, -- according to U.S. government officials, January 3rd, he was removed from the roles at UMass Dartmouth. He was no longer a student. And yet somehow, he was still able to be admitted back into the United States when he returned from Kazakhstan on January 20th. And what one U.S. government official says to me is they should not have let him back in, bells should have gone off.

Now, again, nobody's saying that he -- this young man was involved with the terrorist attacks but another indication that there are issues when it comes to information sharing. One other item having to do with information sharing, although probably not as significant, has to do with the fact that all three of these students were questioned by the FBI, according to a government official, late into the night on Friday the 19th. That's right after the terrorist attacks into the morning on Saturday and then they didn't find enough to charge them with anything.

But it wasn't until the next day, Saturday, that immigration and customs enforcement found out about these students and these questions, looked up the students in their database, realized that two of them were not of legal status, and that's when ICE went in and put them in their custody. And earlier today, obviously, those two students were taken from ICE custody and given to the U.S. marshals. So, still some items when it comes to information sharing between the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

And then, the question about the fact that one of these students was not supposed to have been able to get back into the country, because he was no longer legally a student at UMass Dartmouth. But, as I said before, the questions are -- the charges are about them disposing of items, fireworks and a laptop, that belonged to Dzhokhar that, according to them, he requested that they dispose of and they said -- they say -- no one is saying it's true, that say they did not know the significance of it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I guess key, Jake, would be if they had seen the FBI video, the pictures that had been released from the end of the Boston marathon and they recognized their two friends there, the Tsarnaev brothers, and they said, wow, we know these two guys. Then, if they got a phone call from the younger Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar, saying, please go to my room and throw away X, Y and Z. If they knew that the FBI was looking for them and they then went ahead and threw away into some sort of dumpster a box or a bag or whatever from that room, that's a major crime.

TAPPER: Well, exactly. And, I think, that's why the one U.S. government official shared with me the window in which this request was to have been made between the time 5:15 on Thursday the 18th, between the FBI releasing photographs of the suspects and they're being named early in the morning on Friday April 19th. That's the window. And the question is, did these three students that are accused of disposing of this laptop and fireworks belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, did they know, had they seen the images? I guess we'll hear more from them but that's one of the reasons why law enforcement is taking this so seriously is that they disposed of it, according to this government official, by their own admission, after the photographs had been released.

And, as you know, the photograph of Dzhokhar was much more easily identified than the photographs of Tamerlan. Tamerlan who, of course, is the older brother who has now been killed, was the less recognizable because he didn't have a beard, because he was wearing sunglasses, because his hat was being worn forward whereas Dzhokhar was much more recognizable with his hat on backwards looking more like himself -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, clearly, these three who were arrested today were friends with the younger -- with Dzhokhar as opposed to Tamerlan, the older brother. Jake, thanks very much. Good information.

Let's bring in our CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, former Homeland Security -- Department of Homeland Security here in Washington as well. This timeline, Juliette, is critical, if these individuals allegedly went and threw away stuff from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's room after spotting his picture broadcast all over the world after 5:15 p.m. Eastern on that Thursday -- late Thursday afternoon. And they then went ahead and threw this stuff away. That's potentially a significant -- a significant crime.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. Just picking up on what Jake said, that is absolutely right. So, they would have had knowledge that they were assisting in essentially the cover-up or the attempt to get Dzhokhar off. I have to say, just hearing this and Jake's reporting, you do kind of wonder what was Dzhokhar's thinking at this stage? He has now been identified. He is now bringing more and more people into his scheme, if they had nothing to do with the attack beforehand.

As I said earlier, the charges are only the initial charges. So, even though they are only related to a potential cover-up, the U.S. Attorney's Office always reserves a right to determine whether they might have known beforehand. And then, finally on these charges, just as legal and, actually, operational matter. While it is relevant if they knew that Dzhokhar was the guy in the picture, it is actually not even necessary. If it -- during those conversations, Dzhokhar says to him -- them, I did something bad. Put away the computer or throw away the duffel bag, that is enough. And so, like we saw with the original charge against Dzhokhar, the WMD charge, as well as these charges against the three, the U.S. Attorney's Office will always start with the easiest, lowest, you know, get them under indictment charge. And then, we may see additional ones add up as more and more evidence is found.

In other words, if we find out that they actually knew what Dzhokhar was planning. So, this is just a preliminary step and an important one. And the overlay of the immigration criminal -- the immigration system is one that is sort of a post-911 construct. You have immigration judges as well as your sort of normal or the ones that we tend to know, criminal judges.

BLITZER: All right. Very quickly, Juliette, we should be bracing the additional to these three individuals appearing before a federal judge, majestrate of the Boston federal courthouse around the same time some sort of document and affidavit would be released by the Justice Department by the FBI going through a timeline of why they are being charged?

KAYYEM: Yes. So, yes, that will be what it looks like for a reason to be able to detain them and their -- and their charges and we'll start to get more formal over time. So, remember, they're in immigration court this morning under what are -- seem to me to be clear violations, although we're not quite sure on both of them, at least one of them clearly was no longer enrolled in the school, are then sort of ratchet up to the -- to the criminal system. So, we'll see something more formal by the end of the day, at least preliminary charges and, of course, as it ought to be, in the same courtroom where Dzhokhar's -- where the U.S. Attorney's Office is against Dzhokhar. So, that's how it's going to unfold. And we will also, at that stage, know who the American exactly is and what the charges are against him or her. All we know now is that it's not the widow of the older brother.

So this is how these things unfold. And they slowly sometimes not under a microscope at this stage they clearly knew they had something last Thursday night when they had interviewed these guys for the first time. And then used the immigration system to hold them for some period of time. All you have to do is prove a violation as they're building the case in the criminal case. And so now we're going to see the real charges come out in the next couple of hours.

Once again, just as far as we know related to after the fact. And related to Dzhokhar and his brother seeming sort of unsophistication (sic) on what their exit strategy was, which is something I keep coming back to as we try to determine both their foreign and domestic links. Whatever they thought they were doing or whatever others thought they were going to do, the exit strategy really did seem not as coordinated as the attack itself.

BLITZER: Good point. Juliette, thanks very much. We'll get back to you. We're going to continue to follow the breaking news coverage out of Boston. Three arrests, three individuals, three students arrested today by the FBI. We're waiting for an appearance before a federal judge magistrate in a federal courthouse in Boston. You see those two students from Kazakhstan there together with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This is when they visited Times Square last year. We're blurring out the pictures of the other two friends who went with them to Times Square last year. We'll continue our coverage right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We're following the breaking news. We want to update you on what's going on now. Three more people arrested in connection with the Boston bombing investigation. And we've learned that two are classmates of the bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, originally from Kazakhstan. A third is a U.S. citizen. Earlier CNN spoke by phone with Congressman Peter King of New York, who is a member of the homeland security committee.


REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: -- which is part of the ongoing situation. And this basically is, I believe, going to involve three students who helped to allegedly helped to dispose of evidence or to remove evidence and that's what this is going to be about. Two had been in custody on visa violations, the other is an American citizen who has been picked up. (END AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: Congressman says he is not been formally briefed yet on the latest developments but was getting information through his personal contacts. Let's bring in Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard University law school professor who knows a lot about what's going on. The charges when you hear them, Alan, making false statements to federal authorities, conspiracy to obstruct justice, they could be -- these are pretty serious charges if they're proven to be accurate.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: They're very serious charges and they give the government a tremendous amount of leverage against these people to provide as much information as possible.

Up to now it doesn't help solve whether or not these two bombers had any help from abroad or whether this was part of a larger plot. These charges all relate to what happened after the bombing itself. Now, they may have even known about the plot. That is not a crime. It's not a conspiracy to know about a bombing that's going to occur and not to say anything about it. It's a terrible, terrible thing to do and it may constitute what's called misprision of felony, which is never prosecuted. But to be a conspirator, you have to have a greater involvement than mere knowledge.

But if they didn't know about it, then it only involves the cover-up, getting rid of material. And they had to know they were getting rid of material that was essential to an ongoing investigation. Lying to the police and federal authorities is the easiest charge ever to prove. People don't realize that if you tell any kind of a lie to an FBI agent or any government official, any federal government official, that's a crime. People commit that crime all the time. Rarely are prosecuted for it. Martha Stewart as we remember went to jail for that crime many, many years ago. But it can be very serious. The real question is, is the government so interested in going after them, or is the government interested in trying to squeeze them to get as much information as they can to get more involvement of what happened at the bombing itself.

BLITZER: And the timeline will be critical. Because the FBI released the photographs of the two suspects around 5:15 p.m. eastern on that Thursday afternoon. And if they can prove that these three suspects identified or recognized those pictures from the Boston marathon, the two suspects, and then subsequently got a phone call from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev saying, you know, please go to my room and throw away X, Y and Z, that would be a pretty solid case of obstruction of justice.

DERSHOWITZ: It would be a very solid case. But even if they can't prove that, there's a concept in the law called willful blindness. And if they get a call from somebody they know and say, by the way, quickly get rid of this knapsack, get rid of this, get rid of that, that might be enough even though even if they didn't know they were involved in the bombing because they didn't ask. They willfully blinded themselves to the knowledge that would make that a crime. I think they have a pretty solid case even if the government can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they actually knew that these were the bombers, that he was a bomber.

BLITZER: Alan Dershowitz, we'll get back to you. Thank you very much. We're going to take a break. Resume the breaking news coverage out of Boston. Three more arrests. We're waiting for their appearance before a federal judge in Boston.


BLITZER: We're getting a new picture. I want to put it up on the screen and show it to you. This is a picture of Dias Kadyrbayev, you see the Kazakhstan student there on the left with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His pal, they're both students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus. We don't know when this picture was taken, but we do know that Dias Kadyrbayev was arrested today by federal authorities on two charges, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to federal authorities. Another student from Kazakhstan, Azamat Tazhayakov also arrested today. A third student, a U.S. citizen, arrested as well. We have not yet identified the third student.

There you see the three, the two student from Kazakhstan, plus Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at Times Square last year. They visited Times Square, all buddies. We're going to be getting more details from the Justice Department, from the prosecutors and FBI shortly. We anticipate that the three students arrested today will make an appearance before a federal judge in Boston. Deborah Feyerick has been working her sources for us. What else are you picking up, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one thing that we do know is that this young man, Dias Kadyrbayev, was always of interest to investigators. And there are a couple of reasons for that. He had been taken in for questioning even before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured. So he was taken in in handcuffs by FBI agents. He was clearly sort of woken up a little bit early because he was wearing just a sweatshirt and his boxer shorts. He was taken in, again, the Friday before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured. And the reason he was of interest is really because of activity that was on his Facebook page.

The photograph that you showed earlier, the one of them sitting there at the table together, the two friends sort of arm-in-arm, well, that was of particular interest because that photograph was removed from Dias's Facebook page 3:00 early Friday morning. The same time that his friend there in the red was on the run.

Also, there was some activity that was taking place according to an intelligence source and that is between 4:50 a.m. and 5:04 the morning that the shootout had happened and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still missing, still on the run. Well, in that window of time, 4:50 a.m. to 5:04, the photograph of both of those individuals were changed on their respective Facebook pages. Dzhokhar's photo was changed to a black and white photograph. And Dias's photograph was changed to a photograph of him wearing an Iron Man mask.

All of those things striking investigators as curious, of particular interest. We can also tell you that there was something else about Dias that never made sense. He goes to University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, however when you look at his Facebook page, he had written down that he was attending MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and that he was scheduled to graduate with the class of 2015. Also, it listed him as being with the department of engineering. Clearly that raised a red flag for investigators because there's a theory that in fact these two brothers must have had help making this device, the two devices actually worked. And so when you get an engineering student that's sort of gets on the radar, clearly there's a mass move to find out exactly why.