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Three More Suspects Arrested in Boston Bombing Case
Aired May 1, 2013 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go, hour two, breaking news on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. We are live today in Boston as we're learning much more about this rapidly developing case here involving the Boston marathon bombings from two and a half weeks ago.
We have correspondents covering all different angles of this breaking story. First, here is what we know. Three more people now in custody of the FBI, we have photographs here of two of the three young men. You see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev there, second to right on your screen.
Here are the other two young Kazakh students where -- we keep talking about. These are the ones who allegedly are facing these federal charges, lying to officials after these bombings. In addition, they are accused of moving items, specific items, from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room at UMass Dartmouth and throwing them into the trash can.
The criminal complaint filed against them, conspiracy to obstruct justice by conspiring to destroy, conceal, and cover up tangible objects belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, namely a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks. And here we have the pictures of these fireworks right here, again, these photographs coming from this criminal complaint.
The bin, this dumpster they allegedly threw this backpack and laptop in was, according to our source, then taken to a nearby landfill. This, of course, sort of connects the dots for us, because we have been reporting the last couple of days about this landfill. You see these investigators going through bits and pieces of trash, trying to find the laptop, trying to find the bag.
This third suspect we're learning about, this young man by the name of Robel Phillipos, was, according to this criminal complaint, the one who had confessed that he had lied. So he acknowledges the lie when he was talking to agents about what the other two had done.
I want to bring in national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, who is also a columnist for "The Globe," professor at Harvard.
Good to see you again.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Walk me through here. Let's just take it back for a minute. Take it back. So, they're initially facing immigration charges. Right?
BALDWIN: There are at this school, UMass Dartmouth, which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
KAYYEM: Two of them.
BALDWIN: Two of -- two of them.
BALDWIN: And then now it is a parallel story here, parallel paths.
KAYYEM: Right. Right.
So, there were two courtroom -- court proceedings. We have two different judicial systems. One is immigration. One could say it is safe to say it is an easier system. If you violate your immigration status, you go before an immigration judge. So, as of this morning, at least two of them were facing something -- some sort of immigration charge.
That turns around within an hour, and now they're facing this indictment.
The key takeaways -- I just finished it -- that I have seen, one is interesting, and obviously we -- this is the first read. This is what the FBI is alleging at this stage. They met here. So for all of us putting the pieces together about the foreign influence, the FBI is alleging -- or at least based on statements by the two that were indicted today -- they met here at the school.
Family -- they became sort of family friends. They spent a lot of time together. And then it describes what could only be, I safely say -- and I don't mean to minimize it, but just a lot of stupid activity on the part of those these two guys.
They know it is Dzhokhar. They're getting texts from him. They go to his room, and at least for now they're alleging that they wanted to protect him. Now, this may seem really idiotic or it may be part of a conspiracy.
BALDWIN: One of the texts, according to this he complaint, "You look like the guy on TV."
KAYYEM: Yes. Right. LOL, LOL to finish that text. Right.
KAYYEM: So the -- they then go in and dispose of materials, the backpack and then later the computer. They're led in voluntarily by the roommate of Dzhokhar, and just try to get rid of the evidence, as if they're -- because they're protecting Dzhokhar.
What we don't know by the allegations -- and we actually don't need to know right now -- is whether they did that because they were involved with the planning of the Boston Marathon bombing. As I said earlier, this is -- all we need is this right now. This is the early indictment, early complaint.
The U.S. attorney's office can add on to them if we later find that they were later involved beforehand. At least in the allegations in this, everything is focused on the -- the -- essentially the cover- up.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But then I just want to add to that --
BALDWIN: Go for it.
BANFIELD: It was the last line of page 14 of the complaint.
And it is very telling. The investigator says that the backpack that was recovered from a landfill -- I will remind you that the law enforcement agents were able to recover Tsarnaev's backpack after getting this information from these suspects from a landfill in New Bedford where they believed to be dumped by the service that removes it from those apartments that they were in.
It was partially enclosed in a garbage bag with red drawstring handles. So, it looked like garbage, obviously. Inside the backpack, the agents recovered the fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and here is what is really telling -- a UMass Dartmouth homework assignment sheet, among other things.
And the investigator says, "I have determined that the homework assignment sheet is from a class in which Tsarnaev is currently enrolled.
BANFIELD: It is right here, black and white, the allegations. It's remarkable and stupid.
KAYYEM: And stupid, and for purposes of those people trying to put the pieces together, and don't try to put them together too quickly. This is going to lead in many directions.
But however masterful an attack it was in terms of the fact that the bombs worked, they worked simultaneously, they --
Everything we saw post-Monday at 2:00 p.m., Monday the 15th at 2:00 p.m., looks really, really disorganized.
BANFIELD: Can I also just ask you just with regard to --
BANFIELD: -- all what we're talking about in these complaints, minus that homework assignment sheet, really speaks to the cover-up.
BANFIELD: But in the same sense, if you have a bombing and let's just say there is an allegation down the road that they knew it was going to happen or they participated --
BANFIELD: -- well, then why would it be several days before they get rid of the evidence? Wouldn't you think that that would be -- they would be frantic in those days? If these suspects had anything to do with it, they would be frantic to get rid of that evidence.
KAYYEM: Right. That's exactly right.
So, going to back to the 15th, if you can remember, these were not suicide bombers. These were not people who were -- these are people looking to hide.
Well, if you're going to try to hide successfully, you should hide the evidence. And so this is just consistent with what you were saying, that none of it really makes sense in terms of what were they -- what were they thinking by doing this, of course, if they were thinking about the cover-up?
KAYYEM: And then that's where the friends come in, and just essentially try to hide this stuff, because, as one of them says, you know, we were friends. I didn't want to get him into trouble.
It shows a sort of just disjoint between what happened and the activity of these students.
BALDWIN: And we're minutes away. Let's say this again. We're minutes away from this very first court appearance with these three young students, these three young people at the federal courthouse, not too far again from where we are here in Boston. KAYYEM: Right.
BALDWIN: Brian Todd is there, I'm sure, with a bevy of other news crews, sort of awaiting this first appearance.
Brian, tell me what you're seeing and what do we expect?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we can expect the people named in this complaint, the three people who we have been talking about, to make an appearance here at about 3:30, in little less than half-an-hour.
Afterward, we're expecting at least one attorney for them to come out and speak to the media, and detail what happened in the courtroom, and, of course, talk about their defense of this.
We have observed heavy security here at the Moakley Courthouse near Boston, homeland security officers here in full kind of riot and other gear, just swarming this place and just keeping very close guard on it, police and other vehicles, all around the building. It's very heavy security here. We have got roving teams kind of trying to film these suspects if they come in, unless they already have come in.
If they come in, in one of side entrances, hopefully, we will catch that. The crux of these complaints -- and you guys have been going through this for the last couple of hours -- as we know, the crux of the complaint is that on April 18, the day before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody, that all three of these people have admitted that they removed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's backpack from his dorm room and that two of them, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, said that they agreed to get rid of the backpack after concluding from news reports that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was one of the Boston Marathon bombers.
They found -- later, officials found the backpack that they removed in the landfill. The backpack contained in it -- and, again, you have been going over this -- fireworks, a jar of Vaseline and a homework assignment from UMass Dartmouth.
The complaint says that the two of these defendants, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, placed the backpack in a trash bag, and threw it into a dumpster. Now, a couple of other details from the complaint are very interesting. According to this complaint on page 11, a footnote, it says during the interviews, Tazhayakov informed the FBI that while eating a meal with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and one of the other suspects here, Kadyrbayev, about one month before the marathon bombing, that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had explained to the two of them that he knew how to make a bomb.
So that's something that we will try to get some more detail on. What did they know about any of this beforehand? And, again, these accusations in the complaint all involve actions, alleged actions after the bombings, no evidence, no indication at all that any of these three people involved in this complaint were involved in the planning of the bombings prior to it.
But, of course, people are -- investigators are going to try to get at what they knew about this before the bombings, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Brian Todd, thank you so much. We're going to come back to you as soon as we see activity where you are posted at that federal courthouse in mere minutes.
Meantime, want to go back to Washington to our chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "THE LEAD," Jake Tapper.
And, Jake, you are hearing that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have contacted all three suspects the day before he was caught. What did he reportedly ask these guys to do?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that he had contacted the suspects. I don't know about all three.
Well, here is the thing. If you go through this criminal complaint, there are a lot of unanswered questions that I suspect the FBI is going to be trying to flush out as they build the case even stronger. We know based on text messages sent by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Kadyrbayev, the suspect arrested today, that Kadyrbayev had texted Tsarnaev after the photographs were released -- quote -- "and told him he looked like the suspect on television. Tsarnaev's return text contained 'LOL' and other things that Kadyrbayev interpreted as jokes, such as, 'You better not text me' and 'Come to my room and take whatever you want.'"
Now, I don't understand why "Come to my room and take whatever you want" is a joke. That doesn't really make much sense to me, but then we know --
TAPPER: -- the three suspects arrested today went to Tsarnaev's apartment. And then here are some other thins that don't really make a whole lot of sense.
They noticed the backpack containing fireworks that had been opened up. The gunpowder had been taken out. Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the marathon bombing. He also found a jar of Vaseline in the room, and told Tazhayakov, the other -- one of the other suspects, that he believed Tsarnaev had used the Vaseline to make a bomb.
Now, I don't know about you, Brooke, but that's not what my reaction is when I'm walking in a CVS and I see a thing of Vaseline, that somebody is going to use that to make a bomb. That's not just like a knee-jerk response to a sighting of Vaseline. It is just kind of odd.
BALDWIN: It is odd. It is curious. And you know these investigators are asking a lot of questions and perhaps they're questions these young people should have been asking their friend some days ago. Jake Tapper, thank you so much for going through this criminal complaint.
Quickly, we're going to go to break in just a quick moment. Ashleigh Banfield, you had one more little nugget?
BANFIELD: Quick detail for you. This is really interesting, and I don't think I have heard this yet. Forgive me if I'm repeating, but Kadyrbayev says in this affidavit, this criminal complaint, that apparently on the afternoon of April 17 -- and that would be two days after the marathon bombings --
BANFIELD: -- on Wednesday, so prior to knowing all of this activity we're talking about, but after the bombings, "He said he drove to Tsarnaev's dormitory and texted him to come down and meet him. When Tsarnaev came down, Kadyrbayev noticed that Tsarnaev had appeared to have given himself a short haircut," so possibly to obscure his --
BALDWIN: Changing appearance.
BANFIELD: Yes, there you go.
BALDWIN: Changing appearance.
KAYYEM: Oh, I was just going to add, as to what Jake said, I think he's right. What kind of behavior is this? Is this a joke? Is this these people who don't get the consequences of what they're doing? Or is this part of something bigger?
And I think that -- to remember about the complaint is that it is the first salvo to keep them. There might be more. And so just like we have seen with other things going on, sometimes, the first salvo gets a lot more complicated over time.
BANFIELD: And as Alan Dershowitz aptly noted earlier on, sometimes you charge in order to squeeze and squeeze harder and get information that leads you to your more important conviction, which, of course, is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
BALDWIN: -- keep asking the initial charges.
Juliette, thank you. Ashleigh, thank you.
After this quick break, we are going to take you to New Bedford, where we have Susan Candiotti standing by. Again, we're waiting any minute now to see these young suspects appear at this federal court outside. Of course, cameras are not allowed inside federal courthouses, but outside, we could get our first glimpse as they make this first appearance here in Boston.
Back after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: Back here, live coverage in Boston.
Three more people now in FBI custody. Two of them are charged with obstruction of justice, the third with lying to federal agents investigating the bombing. And as we're getting new information, I'm reading through, what is this now -- it is a 14-page criminal complaint.
We're learning a little bit more as far as what these three young people, two of whom from Kazakstan, one an American citizen, several of whom attending UMass Dartmouth with this younger suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, what they knew about this plan, either pre-bomb attack here on Boylston Street in Boston, but specifically also after the fact, what kind of communication.
It sounds like there was communication, there was texting going on between Dzhokhar Tsarnaev having been, according to this complaint, tossing a backpack, tossing inside of this backpack fireworks, Vaseline, a homework assignment all wrapped up in this black bag and tossed in a dumpster which investigators have now found in a landfill.
I want to bring in Jim Walsh, who is joining me here.
Thank you so much for being with me, sir.
JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Good to be with you.
BALDWIN: And then also Ashleigh Banfield along on my side.
First, just as we have been going through -- and I don't know if you have had a chance to read it or not -- your reaction?
WALSH: Well, I think if you're viewer who has just turned in or seen a headline and it's says three more arrested, two of them are foreigners, it would be --
WALSH: -- you might want to jump to the conclusion.
BALDWIN: You're thinking Bigger plot.
WALSH: Exactly. Exactly.
So, I don't think we can underline enough that while there may be more charges coming, right, this may develop as it goes along, right now, that's not the way it looks with respect to --
BANFIELD: Although I just want to add to that, there is one detail that one of these foreign students actually had returned to Kazakstan in December -- WALSH: Right.
BANFIELD: -- and then as I understand the (INAUDIBLE) he had dropped behind on some of his classes, fell in the outs with the school, but still was able to return back to the United States.
BANFIELD: And that would have an issue violation -- or a visa violation.
WALSH: It would.
BANFIELD: Yet he was still around I think January 20 allowed to return back into the United States.
So, the Kazakh visit over December could have been a holiday visit. We don't know, yes.
WALSH: Exactly, Ashleigh. That's what I was going to say. Just -- he's from there. So, it is not incredible that he would go back and visit.
BANFIELD: Over a Christmas vacation from college.
WALSH: Yes, exactly.
They're both foreigners. So, you think, well, maybe there is a foreign plot. But when folks are foreign students and they go a college, often, those are the people who you become friends with are the people who are from that region.
BANFIELD: I want to throw a little bit of water on this, only because right directly from the complaint, item 24, April 18 -- by my math, that would have been Thursday -- Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., between those times, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov -- or I beg your pardon -- really struggling with the Russian names today -- Tazhayakov apparently and Phillipos went to the UMass Dartmouth campus and went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room,
Tsarnaev's roommate, unnamed at this point, unnamed roommate, let them in, stating that Tsarnaev had left a couple of hours earlier. Those three spent some time in the room watching a movie. First, we have napping. Now we have watching a movie. They noticed a backpack containing fireworks.
The fireworks had been emptied -- opened and emptied of powder. Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the marathon bombing. Kadyrbayev decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble.
He decided to take Tsarnaev's laptop as well because he did not want Tsarnaev's roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously just by taking the backpack.
BALDWIN: So, it's not just questions about it. It's acknowledgement.
WALSH: Yes, but there -- let's draw -- let's be careful here. That comes after the fact. That's a different charge altogether to say that they were involved before the attack.
BALDWIN: Yes. No, this is all after the fact, all after the bombings.
WALSH: So, when we speak to the question about whether this is part of a broader plot -- and, again, there are still issues about the older brother's travel to -- back home --
BANFIELD: To Kazakstan.
And there are allegations about his interactions with other people. But as it relates to these three so far, the Boston police -- the thing that struck me about this is all law enforcement officials have said and underlined, as they have since the first day, really, that there is no ongoing threat to the city of Boston or elsewhere.
BALDWIN: Right. Right.
WALSH: Right? So, we are not talking about something that is still working --
BALDWIN: And it was important for Boston police to be the one to tweet that this morning, to get ahead of it, to say, look, we're OK. We're OK.
BANFIELD: Let me just also remind viewers when -- if you're just tuning in and you're hearing pieces of this lengthy criminal complaint, these are allegations.
This is still a federal allegation against three suspects. These are by no means facts. The statements that are ascribed to these suspects are also allegations by the government. I just want to make sure that everyone hears that. It is not fact. It is an allegation of fact.
BALDWIN: That's right. And we're just reading through this.
BANFIELD: Yes. BALDWIN: We're getting this new information here really on the fly, as we're all speaking.
And again what we do know specifically is that these three suspects these two from Kazakstan, the one from right here in the United States, will be making their first appearance at this federal courthouse in really now mere minutes, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. We have a camera there at that federal court. We will show you those live pictures as soon as we possibly can.
Jim Walsh, thank you so much.
WALSH: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Ashleigh Banfield, thank you very much.
BALDWIN: As I say, we're getting new information, including new information when it comes to social media and these young suspects and what they knew and why they didn't stop this.
Back after this.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: Welcome back here, live, special coverage in Boston.
Two-and-a-half weeks after the fatal Boston Marathon terror attacks, we are now learning of these three suspects who now have been arrested and in minutes will be appearing at a federal courthouse here in Boston. This is their first appearance.
And according to a source, police caught onto one of these students, these UMass Dartmouth students facing charges after he made a change to his Facebook page.
Deborah Feyerick is covering that for us in New York.
And, Deborah, what was the change?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is what is so interesting.
And it is the suspect Dias Kadyrbayev. He is the one who has -- who really hit the radar of investigators even before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was even caught. The reason being is -- is that, on the Thursday the pictures of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother were released to the media, those three friends, including him, they went to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room and actually removed both the backpack and the computer, as you have been reporting.
But at about 3:00 in the morning, Dias actually removed a photograph of both himself and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from his own Facebook page. That was the first thing that didn't seem to make sense. Another thing that didn't make sense is, a few hours later, at about 4:50, within a 15-minute window, both he, Dias, and his friend Dzhokhar, both of their Facebook photographs were changed, within 15 minutes of each other.
And this is when the bomb suspect is still at large. He's still on the run. So the question obviously on is, were they communicating? Were each of them -- did they each change the Facebook page or did one of them have access to another's account?
So, all of that is being looked at very closely. That is the suspect, though, Dias Kadyrbayev. He's the one who is going to be making that appearance just a few moments from now.
But it certainly doesn't look good for these friends. They may have been trying to protect their friend, but what they did was obstruct justice and destroy evidence -- or potential evidence -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Deb Feyerick, thank you.
And we will take you to that federal courthouse live here in Boston on the other side of the break.
We will also take you to New Bedford. It's a town here in Massachusetts where these young people were arrested. And it is not too far from UMass Dartmouth, where they're attending school, along with this younger suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Special coverage here in Boston after this.