Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out last week’s deadly attack, according to the Washington Post. The paper cites “U.S. officials familiar with the interviews” as its source.
The 19-year-old has been under heavy guard since Friday night at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, where he is recovering from a number of serious injuries, including a gunshot wound to the neck. Reports indicate that he is slowly responding to questions.
According to the Washington Post, officials involved in the investigation also say they’re not finding evidence that Dzhokar and his older brother Tamerlan — killed Thursday night in a shootout with police — are operating with the assistance of a larger terrorist organization.
It seems more likely, they think, that the brothers were “self-radicalized” through the Internet and motivated by U.S. actions abroad.
“These are persons operating inside the United States without a nexus” to an overseas group, an intelligence official reportedly said.
According to the Associated Press, two officials also said Tuesday that the older brother frequently looked at extremist sites, including Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate. The magazine has endorsed lone-wolf terror attacks.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, two ethnic Chechen brothers from southern Russia, are accused of planting two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon finish line last week, killing three people and injuring more than 200. Dzhokhar, who was captured hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a suburban Boston backyard and is hospitalized, was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.
A probable cause hearing – at which prosecutors will spell out the basics of their case – has been set for May 30. According to a clerk’s notes of Monday’s proceedings in the hospital, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler indicated she was satisfied that Tsarnaev was “alert and able to respond to the charges.”
Tsarnaev did not speak during Monday’s proceeding, except to answer “no” when he was asked if he could afford his own lawyer, according to the notes. He nodded when asked if he was able to answer some questions and whether he understood his rights.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.