The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings told interrogators that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, U.S. officials familiar with the interviews said.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has acknowledged from his hospital bed his role in planting the explosives near the marathon finish line on April 15, the officials told The Washington Post.
The blasts — the first successful large-scale attack since 9/11 — killed three people and wounded more than 250 others.
Tsarnaev was arrested late on Friday in suburban Watertown just outside Boston.
The officials, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed by police in an overnight shootout, did not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.
But the evidence so far suggests the brothers were “self-radicalized” through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world, the officials told the Post.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has provided limited information to authorities that indicates he and his brother acted independently, without direction or significant influence from Islamist militants overseas, the Post reports.
U.S. officials said they were still working to assemble a detailed timeline of a trip the older Tsarnaev took to Russia, but see no evidence that he received instructions there that led to the attack.
“These are persons operating inside the United States without a nexus” to an overseas group, a U.S. intelligence official to the Post.
U.S. officials have said that the FBI questioned Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the request of Russian authorities who had become concerned that he was becoming radicalized, the Post reports.
The request was conveyed to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. U.S. officials told the Post that they sought follow-up information from Russia, but that Moscow failed to respond.
Officials also expressed skepticism that Russian authorities were concerned about the elder Tsarnaev’s contacts during his trip to Russia.
“The evidence points to the fact that they let him into the country and let him out of the country,” the U.S. official told the Post. “They didn’t take any legal action, which they could have while he was there.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston said on Tuesday that according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s condition is now listed as “fair,” the Post reports.
On Monday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
He made his first court appearance in an unusual nonpublic proceeding in which a federal judge and several lawyers went to his hospital bed in Boston, the Post reports.
Meanwhile, the Boston Public Health Commission said on Tuesday that at least 250 people have sought medical treatment at area hospitals for injuries related to the bombings.
The number has gradually increased in the past week as people sought delayed help for minor injuries that didn’t heal on their own or hearing problems, a commission spokeswoman told the Post.
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