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Officials: Bomb suspects' mother was on watch list

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 12:57 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:29 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Musa Sadulayev)
FILE - This April 25, 2013 file photo shows the mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, left, speaking at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan. Two government officials tell The Associated Press that U.S. intelligence agencies added the Boston bombing suspects' mother to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the attack. At right is her sister-in-law Maryam. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev, File)

BOSTON – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhohkar Tsarnaev was moved from a hospital to a federal prison medical center, while FBI agents searched for evidence Friday in a landfill near the college he was attending.

Tsarnaev, 19, was taken from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during a getaway attempt, and transferred to the Federal Medical Center Devens, about 40 miles from Boston, the U.S. Marshals Service said. The facility at a former Army base treats federal prisoners.

Also, FBI agents picked through a landfill near the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev was a sophomore. FBI spokesman Jim Martin would not say what investigators were looking for.

An aerial photo in Friday’s Boston Globe showed a line of more than 20 investigators, all dressed in white overalls and yellow boots, picking over the garbage with shovels or rakes.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, said that the bombing suspects’ mother had been added to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the deadly attack – a disclosure that deepens the mystery around the Tsarnaev family and marks the first time American authorities have acknowledged that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was under investigation before the tragedy.

The news is certain to fuel questions about whether the Obama administration missed opportunities to thwart the April 15 bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Tsarnaev is charged with joining with his older brother, now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Investigators have said it appears that the brothers were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, said the CIA had Zubeidat Tsarnaeva’s name added to the terror database along with that of her son Tamerlan Tsarnaev after Russia contacted the agency in 2011 with concerns that the two were religious militants.

About six months earlier, the FBI investigated mother and son, also at Russia’s request, one of the officials said. The FBI found no ties to terrorism. Previously U.S. officials had said only that the FBI investigated Tamerlan.

In an interview from Russia, Tsarnaeva said Friday that she has never been linked to terrorism.

“It’s all lies and hypocrisy,” she told The Associated Press from Dagestan. “I’m sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I’ve never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism.”

Earlier this week, she said she has been assured by lawyers that she would not be arrested if she traveled to the U.S., but she said she was still deciding whether to go. The suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said that he would leave Russia soon for the United States to visit one son and lay the other to rest.

A team of investigators from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has questioned both parents in Russia this week, spending many hours with the mother in particular over two days.

Meanwhile, New York’s police commissioner said the FBI was too slow to inform the city that the Boston Marathon suspects had been planning to bomb Times Square days after the attack at the race.

Federal investigators learned about the short-lived scheme from a hospitalized Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during a bedside interrogation that began Sunday night and extended into Monday morning, officials said. The information didn’t reach the New York Police Department until Wednesday night.

“We did express our concerns over the lag,” Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the findings on Thursday.

The FBI had no comment Friday.

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