FBI Wanted Tamerlan Tsarnaev as Informant Before Bombing, Says Defense

Image: FBI Wanted Tamerlan Tsarnaev as Informant Before Bombing, Says Defense

Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014 10:27 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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The FBI pressed Tamerlan Tsarnaev to become an informant, claims the defense team of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as part of a tactic to introduce a new, mitigating factor in the story of the late older brother.

According to The Boston Globe, the defense said in a March hearing, "We do not suggest that these contacts are to be blamed and have no evidence to suggest that they were improper, but rather view them as an important part of the story of Tamerlan’s decline."

The suggestion is that Tamerlan may have misinterpreted his interaction with the FBI, and this may have contributed to his "paranoia and distress" that would ultimately lead to the bombing.

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"We seek this information based on our belief that these contacts were among the precipitating events for Tamerlan’s actions during the week of April 15, 2013, and thus material to the defense case in mitigation," the defense stated.

"The underlying data concerning the brothers’ activities, state of mind, and respective trajectories is critical. Evidence that shows Tamerlan to have had a substantially longer and deeper engagement than his younger brother with extremist and violent ideology is mitigating for the light that it sheds on their relative culpability."

The move was likely surprising to the prosecution, which has stated in the past that it had "no evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was solicited by the government to be an informant."

A statement from October of 2013 was cited by the bureau in early March in which it said, "The Tsarnaev brothers were never sources for the FBI, nor did the FBI attempt to recruit them as sources."

Dzokhar, who recently turned 20, is set to stand trial in November for his alleged role in killing three and injuring 260 with a makeshift bomb made of a pressure cooker, as well as his role in the shootout that followed in which his older brother was slain by police.

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