Latest update: December 30th, 2013
In the months following the dramatic arrest of 19 year old Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two Tsarnaev brothers who were identified in photographs released by the FBI on April 18 as the apparent perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings, fan clubs, websites and slogans insisting that “Dzokhar was innocent” popped up. Right.
The older Tsarnaev brother, Tamerlan, died as the two attempted to escape in the early morning hours of April 19.
But on Thursday, June 27, a 30-count indictment was issued against Dzokhar Tsarnaev.
The indictment contradicts some earlier media reports that the younger brother was not a killer, but instead was a thoroughly Americanized, goofy younger brother, a naive accomplice bullied by his older brother into “coming along for the ride” on the killing spree.
For one thing, on the day that their pictures began appearing in the international media, the indictment states that the two brothers allegedly armed themselves not just with improvised explosive devices – the ones we all learned to call the “pressure cookers,” but with a semiautomatic handgun and ammunition and a hunting knife. Oh, and a machete. No one does anything nice with a machete.
The brothers killed Mr. Collier that night by shooting him in the head at close range with the handgun and attempted to steal his service weapon, according to the indictment.
The United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, announced the indictment at a press conference Thursday afternoon. She explained that Tsarnaev was charged with 4 counts of murder for the three who died from the bombings, and the college security officer, Sean Collier, who was shot at close range on the evening of the brothers’ attempted escape. Tsarnaev was also charged with “maiming, burning and wounding scores of others.”
Several facts which had not been widely known before were released in the indictment. Including the fact about the machete.
We learned for the first time that more than a month before the bombing the two brothers went to Manchester, New Hampshire, rented 9mm handguns and 200 rounds of ammunition, and practiced shooting. This is important, because it shows that the brothers had been planning and preparing for not only the bombing, but for a shootout if they were apprehended.
We also learned that after the pictures of the Tsarnaev brothers began to appear in the media on April 18, and after arming themselves with the IEDs, the gun and ammo and the knives – including the machete – the brothers drove to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, approached safety officer Sean Collier, and shot him in the head at close range, killing him.
The brothers then carjacked a man who was in his Mercedes. It was Dzokhar who took the victim’s ATM card and withdrew $800 from the victim’s account. The Tsarnaevs told the victim they planned to take his car to Manhattan.
During the shootout in Watertown, we learned, that Dzokhar drove directly at the officers who were attempting to arrest Tamerlan, and that the younger brother drove over Tamerlan, causing him serious bodily injury.
As everyone already knows, Dzokhar escaped at that point and hid in a boat parked outside a Watertown residence.
But, according to the indictment, the night of April 19, as Tsarnaev hid in the boat, he wrote messages with his own blood, on the inside of the boat. Those messages are confessions and included, according to Time:
- “The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians.”
- “Can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished.”
- “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.”
- “Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [unintelligible] it is allowed.”
- “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”
The charges against Tsarnaev include 17 different counts that carry the possibility of the death penalty, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction, and other counts for which life imprisonment are potential sentences.
According to Ortiz, it is up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not the death penalty is sought, and an announcement will be made when Holder makes that decision.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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