Joint court motion seeks release of man accused of lying to authorities after Boston bombings

WORCESTER, Mass. — Prosecutors and defense lawyers filed a joint court motion Monday asking a judge to release one of the friends of Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from federal custody while awaiting trial.

Robel Phillipos, 19, was charged last week with lying to investigators looking into the April 15 bombings. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted.

Authorities say he lied to investigators about visiting Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the bombings.

Both sides said in the court motion that they agree to allow Phillipos to be released under strict conditions, including home confinement and monitoring with an electronic bracelet, along with a $100,000 bond.

A magistrate judge is expected to consider the request during a hearing Monday afternoon.

Defense attorneys for Phillipos said in court documents their client had nothing to do with the deadly bombings and isn’t a flight risk.

Three arrested for allegedly helping suspect after Boston bombings

Three friends of one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were charged Wednesday with interfering with the investigation after the attack.
The three were identified as friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who has been charged with carrying out the bombings along with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. The younger brother was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the same school attended by the three people charged with helping him after the bombings, according to authorities.

The friends were identified in a federal complaint as Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19-year-old students from Kazahkstan, and Robel Phillipos, also 19. The two Kazakh students were accused of “knowingly destroying, concealing, and covering up” a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks that belonged to Tsarnaev. Phillipos was charged with lying to federal investigators.

The two Kazakhs have been in the United States on student visas and attended the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth along with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Phillipos. The two Kazakhs were taken into custody April 20 on charges of violating their visas.
According to the affidavit, shortly after the FBI released photographs and video of the two bombing suspects late on the afternoon of April 19, the three friends went to Tsarnaev’s room at UMass-Dartmouth. While they were there, Tsarnaev sent a text message to Kadyrbayev saying, “I’m about to leave if you need something in my room take it.”
They noticed a backpack containing fireworks that had been opened and emptied of explosive powder. “Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the marathon bombing,” said Cieplik.
Kadyrbayev later told the FBI that he removed the fireworks “in order to help his friend,” and that he also took Tsarnaev’s computer and a jar of Vaseline that he thought might have been used to make bombs, according to the complaint. All three later decided to throw the backpack and computer into a dumpster near the apartment shared by Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov in New Bedford, Mass., according to the complaint. The affidavit said that Kadyrbayev put the material into the dumpster.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev face maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.
At a brief initial appearance this afternoon in US District Court in Boston, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev waived their right to a bail hearing. They will appear in court again May 14. In a separate hearing, Phillipos also waived his right to a bail hearing. Another hearing was slated in his case for Monday.
Phillipos’s attorney, Derege Demissie, said Phillipos had nothing to do with the actions of Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev and had simply made a “misrepresentation” to authorities.
F.B.I. investigators have continued to focus on Tamerlan Tasarnaev’s widow, Kathryne Russell, to see if she played any role in in the attack or in helping him and his brother try to cover up their actions, knowingly or unknowingly.

Aunt: Boston bombings suspect struggled with Islam MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP)

The elder suspect in the Boston bombings regularly attended a mosque and spent time learning to read the Quran, but he struggled to fit in during a trip to his ancestral homeland in southern Russia last year, his aunt said. Tamerlan Tsarnaev seemed more American than Chechen and ‘‘did not fit into the Muslim life’’ in Russia’s Caucasus, Patimat Suleimanova told The Associated Press. She said when Tsarnaev arrived in January 2012, he wore a winter hat with a little pompom, something no local man would wear, and ‘‘we made him take it off.’’ After returning from Russia, Tsarnaev made his presence known at a Boston-area mosque, where his outbursts interrupted two sermons that encouraged Muslims to celebrate American institutions such as the July 4 Independence Day and figures like Martin Luther King Jr., according to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. During one incident congregants shouted at him, telling him to leave, the center said in a statement released Monday. His mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told the AP that her son greatly enjoyed his time with her relatives, but never traveled to her native village in a mountainous region of Dagestan, which is a hotbed of an ultraconservative strain of Islam known as Wahabbism. Wahabbism was introduced to the Caucasus in the 1990s by preachers and teachers from Saudi Arabia. The mother said her relatives now all live in Makhachkala and the town of Kaspiisk. She refused to say which mosque her son frequented, but Tsarnaev’s parents and aunt firmly denied that he met with militants or fell under the sway of religious extremists.

 

The Boston Bombings Have Nothing to Do With Immigration Reform

A day after the Boston Marathon bombings, the New York Post falsely reported that law enforcement suspected a Saudi national may have been responsible. Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa responded with predictable outrage. “If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background-check the 11 million to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?” he told the National Review. King, a leading opponent of efforts to reform the nation’s immigration laws, was one of several conservatives—including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and talk show host Laura Ingraham—who are straining to draw a line from the Boston attack to the immigration bill.

Now the question is whether the Gang of Eight senators who authored the bill, and particularly the Republicans in the group, can wrest back the narrative from these doubters. On CNN’s State of the Union show Sunday, South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham argued that the bombings strengthen the case for reform. It’s better to improve the immigration system than to keep it as is, he said, so authorities have a better idea of who is coming and who isn’t. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Arizona Senator John McCain made similar statements this weekend.

On Being Brown in America

The recent bombings in Boston threw up many questions. One of the most pressing, in my somewhat narrow view, is the meaning of being brown in America.

On April 17, two days after the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring almost 200 others, CNN’s John King went on air to say that the suspect was a “dark-skinned male.” In the CNN video, which shows that the time of the broadcast was 1.15 p.m. on Wednesday, we see King pointing to a photograph from the front-page of The New York Times. A positive identification had been made based on a surveillance video from a Lord & Taylor store just outside the frame of the picture in the Times, King said. A little later that afternoon, King would go on to assure viewers that a subsequent arrest had been made.

No one had been arrested that day, of course, and, alas, there was no dark-skinned male. What is remarkable is that even while first reporting his piece of “exclusive” news, CNN’s King felt it necessary to qualify what he was saying.

This behavior isn’t entirely the product of the Internet. In fact, it is not even new. It has its roots in history and, arguably, in law. Let us go back to the days even before Maugham had his detective Ashenden looking at the photograph of a dark-skinned male. I’m referring here to the 1917 Immigration Act in the U.S. — also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act — which regarded as undesirable aliens all those individuals who had their origin in Asia, a region spanning the so-called Middle East to the Pacific Islands, thereby lumping them in with “homosexuals,” “idiots,” “feeble-minded persons,” “criminals,” “insane persons,” “alcoholics,” “professional beggars” and others.

Catholic bishops: Don’t let Boston attacks derail immigration reform

(RNS) Leading U.S. Catholic bishops on Monday (April 22) denounced efforts to use the Boston Marathon bombings to derail the push for immigration reform, saying it is wrong to brand all immigrants as dangerous and that a revamped system would in fact make Americans safer.

“Opponents of immigration … will seize on anything, and when you’ve got something as vivid and as recent as the tragedy in Boston it puts another arrow in their quiver,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters.

“To label a whole group of people – namely, the vast population of hard-working, reliable, virtuous immigrants – to label them, to demean them because of the vicious, tragic actions of two people is just ridiculous,” he said. “Illogical. Unfair. Unjust.”

Dolan was joined on the conference call by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, both top spokesmen for the bishops on migration, in pushing for passage of a landmark immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate last week.

In the wake of the April 15 attacks and the identification of two young men of Chechen origin as the suspects, some conservative politicians have argued that immigration reform should be put on the shelf.

Immigration reform advocates counter that having a better, more comprehensive system would have enabled authorities to maintain better records on immigrants like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed after a shootout with police, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who remains hospitalized.

That history of religious bias is also why the bishops are especially sensitive to efforts to brand all Muslims as suspect.

“They are going through now what we did in the 1840s and 1850s,” said Dolan, a student of church history. “Whenever a group is painted with a wide brush we begin to bristle.”

Hate Crimes in MA, NY Follow Boston Bombings

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said hate incidents in Massachusetts and New York occurred following the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

A Bangladeshi man was beaten at Applebee’s in ‘revenge attack’ over Boston Marathon bombings.  The man has claimed he was beaten at a New York City Applebee’s in retaliation for the Boston Marathon bombings – because of the color of his skin.

Abdullah Faruque, 30, says that he was heading out of the restaurant to smoke a cigarette when he noticed a group of Hispanic men who had been at the bar followed him out.

They then confronted him.

He said he was only beaten for a little over a minute, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder and was nearly knocked unconscious in the attack.

He told the Post that he knew he was outnumbered, and just did his best to protect himself.

He said it wasn’t until he got home when he turned on the TV and learned of the bloodbath in Boston.

Investigators Dig for Roots of Bomb Suspects’ Radicalization

The two men suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings were armed with a small arsenal of guns, ammunition and explosives when they first confronted the police early Friday, and were most likely planning more attacks, the authorities said Sunday.

United States officials said they were increasingly certain that the two suspects had acted on their own, but were looking for any hints that someone had trained or inspired them. The F.B.I. is broadening its global investigation in search of a motive and pressing the Russian government for more details about a Russian request to the F.B.I. in 2011 about one of the suspects’ possible links to extremist groups, a senior United States official said Sunday.

Among the unanswered questions facing investigators are where the suspects acquired their weapons and explosives, how they got the money to pay for them, and whether others helped plan and carry out the attack last Monday.  Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston said he believed the brothers were not affiliated with a larger network.  “All of the information that I have, they acted alone, these two individuals, the brothers,” he said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

Mr. Menino said Tamerlan had “brainwashed” his younger brother to follow him and “read those magazines that were published on how to create bombs, how to disrupt the general public, and things like that.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an amateur boxer who had hoped to fight on the U.S. Olympic team, a man who said he had no American friends. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrestled at a prestigious high school, won a scholarship from his city and went on to university.  He identified himself then as a Muslim and said he did not drink or smoke: “God said no alcohol.” He said he hoped to fight for the U.S. Olympic team and become a naturalized American. He said he was studying to become an engineer.

They had come to the United States about 10 years ago from a Russian region near Chechnya, according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md. They had two sisters. As kids they rode bikes and skateboards on quiet Norfolk Street in Cambridge, Mass.

But their lives appeared to take different turns — at least until this week, when a video caught them together on Boylston Street, moments before two bombs unleashed terror at the finish line of America’s most famous race.

The suspects’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni, said in an interview on Sunday that he had first noticed a change in the older brother in 2009. Mr. Tsarni sought advice from a family friend, who told him that Tamerlan’s radicalization had begun after he met a recent convert to Islam in the Boston area. Mr. Tsarni said he had later learned from a relative that his nephew had met the convert in 2007.

As scrutiny increased on how the brothers had been radicalized, Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who heads the Homeland Security Committee, and Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican on the panel, sent a letter to the directors of three of the nation’s leading intelligence-gathering agencies calling the F.B.I.’s handling of the case “an intelligence failure.”

Their efforts included analyzing records from the brothers’ phones and computers, to find associates and witnesses and extremist group affiliations. The agents also scoured credit card records and other material seized from their apartment and car for evidence of bomb components, the backpacks used or any other evidence that could tie them to the bombings.

Two Birmingham Men Admit to Planning Terror Attack

10 April 2013

 

Mohammad Rizwan and Bahader Ali, two Birmingham gang members, pleaded guilty to plotting and preparing for acts of terrorism at Woolwich Crown Court on 10 April. Both men are from Sparkbrook, Birmingham, and planned to carry out an attack in Birmingham, the second most populated city in Britain. Police say that the gang’s plot to detonate eight rucksack bombs in crowded places would have been larger than the 7/7 bombings. In total, eleven gang members were arrested and have been either brought up on charges or convicted of planning terrorist activities and are due to be sentenced later this month. The men face life in prison.

Muslim Group Outraged with Cambridge City Council’s Decision to Give Funds to Citizen’s Advice Bureau

12 May 2012

 

£20 Million has been given to local authorities as a part of the Prevent Strategy, which was introduced by the previous labour government to prevent British Muslim youth from being recruited by ‘radical groups’ after the 7/7 bombings. The money has been used in joint projects with Muslim groups to educate them against radicalization.

 

However, aside from the criticism against the policy which was labelled as surveillance and entrapment of Muslims by some Muslim organization, the projects that the money was spent on have also been a subject of controversy. Many people have been sceptical about the appropriate expenditure of the funds.

 

The Muslim Council of Cambridgeshire’s (CMC) recent statement which lambasted the City Council for allocating the funds to a different project yet again has drawn attention to problems with the Prevent Strategy.