New York City was the next stop for Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to officials who interviewed the 19-year-old surviving suspect earlier this week.
According to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators from his hospital bed in Boston that he and his brother spontaneously decided to detonate the rest of their explosives, including a pressure cooker bomb like the ones used in Boston and five pipe bombs, in Times Square.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died from wounds he sustained during a gun battle with police on April 19. Dzhokhar told officials that Tamerlan had only recently recruited him for the attacks.
On Wednesday, U.S. investigators traveled to Russia to speak with the Tsarnaev parents in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province in the country’s south. Both parents said they had no idea what their sons were planning.
Anzor Tsarnaev, the boys’ father, said he will travel to the United States in the next few days. He wants to claim Tamerlan’s body and visit Dzhokhar in the hospital. Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the boys’ mother, said she wants to see her son, but is worried she will be arrested because she is wanted for shoplifting and property damage in Massachusetts. Lawyers have told her she will not be charged.
Both parents say they do not know when or where their eldest son began his radicalization. Tamerlan spent about six months at the beginning of 2012 in Russia’s Caucasus, a region at the border of Europe and Asia between the Black and Caspian Seas. Since 2009, the area has been wrought with political unrest led by religious extremists. Anzor Tsarnaev said he does not know details of his eldest son’s time in Dagestan, other than that he regularly prayed at a Makhachkala mosque.
The Tsarnaev family moved to Dagestan in 2001. The region has become an Islamist insurgency mecca that experiences daily violence, but investigators found no evidence Tamerlan was radicalized before he moved to the United States when he was 18. The family’s former neighbors have been questioned about their lifestyle and they said the family was peaceful. They all expressed surprise that the Tsarneav boys are accused of setting off the bombs that killed three and wounded more than 200 at the Boston Marathon on April 15.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lived in the United States for about 10 years. Both brothers received welfare benefits while living with their parents in Massachusetts. Tamerlan, his wife, and daughter also received welfare until last year when they became ineligible because of income.