Armed guards surrounded the hospital where 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was said to be in a serious but stable condition yesterday. He was captured on Friday night after a shootout with police who found him hiding in a boat in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
In a rare move, the interrogation team plans to question Dzhokhar without reading him his so-called “Miranda rights”, which give him the right to remain silent.
The FBI’s website says the exception “permits law enforcement to engage in a limited and focused, unwarned interrogation” of a suspect and introduce any statements gathered as evidence in a criminal prosecution. The FBI says “police officers confronting situations that create a danger to themselves or others may ask questions designed to neutralise the threat without first providing a warning of rights”.
Tsarnaev’s arrest ended an intensive manhunt for the sole surviving suspect in the marathon bombing last Monday that killed three people and injured 176. His older brother and alleged accomplice Tamerlan, 26, was killed by police in the early hours of Friday.
Investigators are anxious to find out if Tsarnaev and his brother were working in isolation or if they were part of an underground cell with links to international terrorist groups.
Yesterday US justice officials said Tsarnaev could be charged with terrorism offences related to the worst attack on the US since 11 September, 2001, while still in the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre. President Barack Obama said Tsarnaev’s capture “closed an important chapter in this tragedy”.
But he added: “There are still many unanswered questions. Why did these young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks? And did they receive any help?”
Two men and a woman linked to a housing complex in New Bedford, 60 miles south of Boston, where Dzhokhar may have once stayed were questioned on Friday, but released without charge.
During the hunt for Tsarnaeva, Boston was locked down for more than 12 hours. He was tracked down to a back garden in Watertown after a homeowner spotted blood on his boat.
The student is believed to have lost a lot of blood during the first gun battle with police and could have bled to death from his injuries had he not been discovered. Police recovered handguns, a rifle and at least six bombs from where officers first confronted the brothers in that shootout around 1am on Friday.
Watertown police chief Edward Deveau said the men, who were both driving cars, had started shooting at a lone officer in a police car.
He said: “They both came out shooting. He’s under direct fire, very close by. He has to jam it in reverse and try to get himself a little distance.”
The shootout which ensued involved five other officers who had arrived on the scene, with some 200 shots fired within ten minutes.
Deveau said the men had also thrown an explosive at police which was later found to have been a pressure cooker bomb similar to one used in the Boston Marathon attack.
The mother of the Chechen-born brothers yesterday insisted they were innocent and had been framed.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said Tamerlan had been under FBI surveillance for at least three years. She said: “I am 100 per cent sure that this is a set up.”
The FBI said it investigated Tamerlan in 2011 at the request of an undisclosed foreign government, but did not found any evidence of terrorist involvement.
A total of 57 victims of the marathon bombings were in hospital last night, including three in a critical condition.