The Obama White House moved quickly on Wednesday to play down Secretary of State John Kerry’s contention that Tamerlan Tsarnaev — the older of the two brothers believed to be behind the last week’s Boston Marathon terror bombings — had drawn inspiration for the attacks during a trip he took to Chechnya.
“In a situation like this, we ought to let the investigators do their work and not jump to conclusions, as the president said on Friday,” the White House spokesman Jay Carney said, according to The Washington Times
Carney had been asked whether Kerry was adhering to White House advisories to exercise caution in assessing the bombers’ motivations until intelligence officials concluded their investigation.
He said Kerry’s remarks did not reflect any new information obtained by investigators.
Tsarnaev, 26, was killed by police in a frantic overnight gun battle early on Friday. He had spent six months in Chechnya last year, leaving the United States months after he had been questioned by the FBI about possible links to terrorists groups.
His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was arrested by authorities on Friday night in suburban Watertown, Mass. He remained in fair condition and under heavy guard at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston on Wednesday.
Dzhokhar has admitted to interrogators that he and his brother acted alone in the bombings and that his older brother held extremist Islamic beliefs.
In Brussels earlier on Wednesday, Kerry told reporters, “We just had a young person who went to Russia, Chechnya, who blew people up in Boston.”
“He didn’t say where he went, but he learned something where he went, and he came back with a willingness to kill people,” Kerry said.
A State Department spokesman also tried to clarify the remarks, saying that Kerry “was simply expressing broad concern about radicalism and not necessarily offering any more specific information about this case.
“The context of how that came up was really radicalism broadly, I understand, is how the question came up,” said Patrick Ventrell, the department’s acting deputy spokesperson, told the Times. “This isn’t about any new information or conclusion about law enforcement details of this case.”
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