Boston bombing indictment: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev inspired by Al Qaeda
WASHINGTON -- A federal grand jury in Boston on Thursday indicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing, charging that he and his brother were inspired by Al Qaeda terrorism propaganda and believed the blasts that killed three and injured about 260 were justified because of U.S. activities overseas.
The 30-count indictment, which charges him with detonating a weapon of mass destruction and could result in the death penalty or life in prison, said the 19-year-old Chechen immigrant scrawled a confession on the inside walls and beams of the boat he was hiding in before his capture in nearby Watertown, Mass., saying, “I don’t like killing innocent people.”
But, he allegedly wrote, “the US Government is killing our innocent civilians. I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. We Muslims are one body; you hurt one you hurt us all. Stop killing our innocent people, we will stop.”
The indictment further alleged that the Tsarnaev brothers designed the twin bombs in order to “shred skin, shatter bone and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, were tracked down several days after the bombing. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police, and Dzhokhar was arrested inside the boat. Seriously wounded, he is being held in a federal medical center for prisoners at nearby Devens, Mass.
The brothers are accused of planting two pressure-cooker bombs filled with shrapnel at different spots near the crowded finish line of the race, and then spent the next several days trying to go about their normal routines.
But when their pictures were made public as potential suspects, the brothers allegedly tried to leave Boston, allegedly killed an MIT police officer and then were surrounded by local authorities.
Tsarnaev did not immediately enter a plea to the indictment.
The indictment also said that Tsarnaev downloaded jihadist texts to his computer, including “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation After Imam,” by Abdullah Azzam.
“What all this stuff points to is that Dzhokhar was serious about this,” said J.M. Berger, author of “Jihad Joe” and an expert on American radicals. “It’s suggestive of him being much more heavily into jihadist ideology than previous reports pointed to.”
Berger added that Azzam’s book appeared to be the most significant of the texts named in the indictment; Azzam helped foster the global jihadist movement in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as The Times has previously reported.
“That’s really the landmark text in the modern jihadist movement,” Berger said. “It basically lays out the argument for every Muslim to have an obligation to step up and defend Muslims in peril.”
Tsarnaev had downloaded the first volume of “Inspire,” an Al Qaeda magazine, which had first been published in the summer of 2010 and included instructions on how to build a pressure-cooker bomb.
Matt Pearce in Los Angeles also contributed to this story.
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