Investigators focus on Tsarnaev's Russia trip

Meanwhile at Congressional hearing on bombing, Boston police commissioner urges security without police state

By Natasha Lennard
Published May 9, 2013 5:06PM (UTC)
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Investigators trying to piece together motive and meaning behind the Boston marathon bombings are looking closely at the six months Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased suspect, spent in Russia last year. The 26-year-old who died in a police shout-out is believed to have possible made a number of contacts in Dagestan "from days he might have spent in a fundamentalist Salafi mosque in Makhachkala, the capital, to time spent outside the city with a relative who is a prominent Islamist leader recently taken into custody by Russian authorities," the New York Times noted Thursday.

Via the Times:


It remains unclear to what degree his months in Russia, which were punctuated by volleys of punishing attacks between the police and insurgents, might have changed his plans. But an official here, who said he did not have enough information to confirm or deny reports of Mr. Tsarnaev’s contacts, said he had concluded that Mr. Tsarnaev intended to link up with militant Islamists — but left frustrated, having failed.

“My presumed theory is that he evidently came here, he was looking for contacts, but he did not find serious contacts, and if he did, they didn’t trust him,” said Habib Magomedov, a member of Dagestan’s antiterrorism commission.

Meanwhile, Thursday marks the beginning of a Congressional hearing into the marathon bombings. The hearing, which will address what might have been done to avid the tragedy, will hear Thursday from Boston police commissioner Ed Davis. According to the AP, reviewing Davis' prepared remarks, the police commissioner will urge greater security at large public events but will emphasize that the answer is not to further expand the surveillance, police state. Via the AP:

Boston’s police commissioner told lawmakers conducting the first congressional hearing on the Marathon bombings that government should tighten security around celebratory public events and consider using more undercover officers, special police units and technology, including surveillance cameras — but only in ways that don’t run afoul of civil liberties.

“I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city,” Commissioner Edward Davis said in prepared remarks for the House Homeland Security Committee. “We do not and cannot live in a protective enclosure because of the actions of extremists who seek to disrupt our way of life.”

Investigators used surveillance video from a restaurant near one of the explosions to help identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a police shootout, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, who survived, as the bombing suspects.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Boston Explosions Boston Marathon Bombing Congressional Hearing Russia Tamerlan Tsarnaev