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Lawmakers ask who knew what about Boston bomb suspect


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In Washington, Senate Intelligence Committee member Richard Burr, R-N.C., said after his panel was briefed by federal law enforcement officials that there is "no question" that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was "the dominant force" behind the attacks and that the brothers had apparently been radicalized by material on the Internet rather than by contact with militant groups overseas.

The brothers’ parents are from Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province in Russia’s Caucasus, where Islamic militants have waged an insurgency against Russia. A U.S. Embassy official said Wednesday that a team of U.S. investigators has traveled to Dagestan to speak to the parents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

At a glance

Lawyers defending bombing suspect amid furloughs

The lawyers defending Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-KHAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) are dealing with federal budget cuts that are forcing them to take three unpaid weeks off, even as they prepare a defense for the high-profile case.

The office of federal defender Miriam Conrad in Boston has been appointed to represent Tsarnaev. The office must complete the furloughs before the end of September because of cuts of around 10 percent.

Furloughs have caused delays in another terror-related case in New York. A public defender representing Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law told a judge this month that furloughs were making it impossible to prepare for trial quickly. The judge said he found it “extremely troublesome” and “stunning” that sequestration was interfering with the prosecution.

Officials: Boston bombing suspects had 1 gun

Two U.S. officials say investigators in the Boston bombings have recovered only one handgun believed to have been used in a gun battle with police.

One official said the serial number on what they described as a 9 mm pistol was scratched off. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation still in progress.

Tamerlan Tzarnaev died in a shootout with police. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was later caught hiding in a boat.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis says over 250 rounds were fired in the shootout. Police said the men also used explosives. Davis said shots were fired from the boat where Tsarnaev was found. It wasn’t clear whether he was armed when he was captured.

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Family members reached in the U.S. and abroad by The Associated Press said Tamerlan was influenced by Misha.

After befriending Misha, Tamerlan gave up boxing, stopped studying music and began opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to family members, who said he turned to websites and literature claiming that the CIA was behind 9/11.

"You could always hear his younger brother and sisters say, ‘Tamerlan said this,’ and ‘Tamerlan said that.’ Dzhokhar loved him. He would do whatever Tamerlan would say," recalled Elmirza Khozhugov, the ex-husband of Tamerlan’s sister. He spoke by telephone from his home in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The brothers, who came to the U.S. from Russia a decade ago, were raised in a home that followed Sunni Islam, the religion’s largest sect, but were not regulars at the mosque and rarely discussed religion, Khozhugov said.

Then, in 2008 or 2009, Tamerlan met Misha, a heavyset bald man with a reddish beard. Khozhugov didn’t know where they met but believed they attended a Boston-area mosque together.

The disclosures about the possible role of Misha in influencing Tsarnaev was described as "new information" by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "It’s important we have the appropriate authorities check that out," he said Wednesday on CNN. "Obviously if there are people fomenting that type of activity in the United States we want to know who they are and hold them accountable."

Napolitano said Tuesday that her agency knew of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia. She said that even though the suspect’s name was misspelled on a travel document, redundancies in the system allowed his departure to be captured by U.S. authorities in January 2012.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Embassy official said U.S. investigators traveled to southern Russia to speak to the brothers’ parents, hoping to learn more about their motives.


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In other developments:

— A lawyer for Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife, Katherine Tsarnaeva, said his client "is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation," although he would not say whether she had spoken with federal authorities. Another lawyer for Tsarnaeva said the 24-year-old deeply mourned the loss of innocent victims in the bombings.

— The Massachusetts state House turned aside a bid by several lawmakers to reinstate the death penalty in certain cases, including the murder of police officers. In a 119-38 vote, the House sent the proposal to a study committee rather than advance it to an up-or-down vote.

— In New Jersey, the sisters of the suspects, Ailina and Bella Tsarnaeva, issued a statement saying they were saddened to "see so many innocent people hurt after such a callous act." Later, in brief remarks to several news outlets, Ailina described her elder brother as a "kind and loving man." She said of both brothers: "I have no idea what got into them" and also that "at the end of the day no one knows the truth."

— Phantom Fireworks of Seabrook, N.H., said Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought 48 mortar shells at the store in February. Company Vice President William Weimer, however, said the amount of gunpowder that could be extracted from the fireworks would not have been enough for the Boston bombs.

— A fund created to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks has generated $20 million. Mayor Thomas Menino said more than 50,000 donors from across the world have made donations to One Fund Boston.

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Dozier reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy and Bob Salsberg in Boston, Lynn Berry in Moscow, and Adam Goldman, Eric Tucker, Matt Apuzzo, and Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.



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