Bombing suspects originally plotted July 4 attack

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev admitted the plans two days after his capture

Topics: Associated Press, Boston Marathon, Boston Bombings, Boston, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Patriot Day,

Bombing suspects originally plotted July 4 attackSuspected bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Credit: Wikimedia/FBI)

BOSTON — The brothers suspected in the bombing of the Boston Marathon initially envisioned themselves as suicide bombers who would strike on the Fourth of July, according to a new report.

Two law enforcement officials told The New York Times that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who survives, admitted the plans two days after he was captured in a suburban Boston backyard on April 19.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also confessed that he and his older brother had watched online sermons of radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki before carrying out the attacks, according to the Times sources.

The Tsarnaev brothers moved up the date of the attack to April 15, Patriot Day in Boston, when they finished making their pressure-cooker bombs ahead of schedule, according to the officials. The paper said the bombs were assembled in the Cambridge, Mass., apartment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a shootout with police.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body had lain unclaimed, but Boston Department of Public Safety spokesman Terrel Harris said a funeral home retained by the 26-year-old’s family picked up the remains Thursday afternoon.

He said he had no more information about plans for the remains.

The medical examiner determined Tsarnaev’s cause of death on Monday, but officials said it wouldn’t become public until his remains were released and a death certificate was filed.

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It was unclear on Thursday evening whether the death certificate had been filed.

Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, who has been living with her parents in North Kingstown, R.I., learned this week the medical examiner was ready to release his body and wanted it released to his side of the family, her attorney Amato DeLuca said.

Tsarnaev’s uncle Ruslan Tsarni, of Maryland, said Tuesday night the family would take the body.

“Of course, family members will take possession of the body,” Tsarni said. “A family is a family.”

After the hearse carrying Tsarnaev’s body departed Boston, television stations reported that their helicopters followed it to the Dyer Lake Funeral Home in North Attleborough.

About 20 protesters gathered outside the funeral home. An Associated Press photographer later saw a hearse leaving the home escorted by two police cars.

The April 15 bombing, using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards near the marathon’s finish line, killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Authorities said Tsarnaev and his younger brother later killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer and carjacked a driver, who escaped.

Authorities said that during the gunbattle with police, the Tsarnaev brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago, set off another pressure cooker bomb and tossed grenades.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in a federal prison and faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

Three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends, college classmates, were arrested and accused of helping after the marathon bombing to remove a laptop and backpack from his dormitory room before the FBI searched it.

A top Republican senator on Thursday asked President Barack Obama’s administration to explain how one of the students entered the United States without a valid student visa.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, in a three-page letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, asked for additional details about the student visa applications for Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, college roommates from Kazakhstan charged with obstruction of justice in the marathon bombing case, and how Tazhayakov was allowed to re-enter the United States in January.

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