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Tsarnaev's three friends charged in Boston blasts cases

May 02, 2013 13:29 IST

Three teenage college friends of Chechen-origin Boston bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tried to save him although they knew that he was involved in the terrorist attack, with two of them destroying his key belongings and the third lying to the police.

But little did they knew that their effort would land them in jail for helping someone who is suspected of two bomb blasts in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 200 others on April 15, in one of the worst terrorist attack in the US post 9/11.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Wednesday arrested and charged Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both of New Bedford in Massachusetts, of trying to destroy the key evidences -- a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks. A third, Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements to officials.

According to the criminal complaint filed before a Boston court, law enforcement agents recovered Tsarnaev's backpack from a landfill in New Bedford where they believed it to have been dumped by the service that removes garbage from the Carriage Drive apartment complex.

The backpack was partially enclosed in a black garbage bag with red drawstring handles. Inside the backpack, the agents recovered fireworks, ajar of Vaseline, and a homework assignment sheet, among other things.

The assignment sheet is from a class in which Tsarnaev is currently enrolled, said the FBI agent Scott P Cieplik.

These are the items that Tazhayakov, Kadyrbayev -­ from Kazakhastan -- and Phillipos, a US citizen, took from Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts -- Dartmouth after the FBI released photos of Tsarnaev and his elder brother Tamerlan, as the suspects of the Boston blasts.

According to the FBI affidavit, the three quickly knew that the video and picture released by the Boston police was that of their friend Tsarnaev.

The same evening, they met at the UMASS-Dartmouth campus and went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room. His roommate let them in, stating that Tsarnaev had left a couple of hours earlier.

"Tazhayakov, Kadyrbayev and Phillipos -- all 19-year-old -- spent some time inside the room watching a movie. They noticed a backpack containing fireworks. The fireworks had been opened and emptied of powder. Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty ireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the Marathon bombing," the affidavit said.

"Kadyrbayev decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble. He decided to take Tsarnaev's laptop as well because he did not want Tsamaev's roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack," the FBI special agent said in his affidavit.

After the three returned to the Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev's apartment with the backpack and computer, they watched news reports that featured photographs of a man later identified as Tsarnaev, the FBI said.

According to Kadyrbayev, they then collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash.

Kadyrbayev placed the backpack and fireworks along with trash gathered from the apartment into a large black trash bag and then threw the trash bag into a dumpster near the Carriage Drive apartment. They did this around 10 in the night.

Tazhayakov and Phillipos did not participate in placing the trash into the dumpster but knew that Kadyrbayev had done so.

During questioning Tazhayakov told the investigators that he became friends with Tsarnaev at UMASS-Dartmouth in fall 2011. They grew closer in fall 2012 when Tsarnaev began spending a lot of time at his apartment.

Phillipos during the initial interview concealed the fact that he, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room on the evening of April 18. Later he conceded having gone there.

Tsarnaev, 19, is in custody on charges that he planted bombs that exploded along the marathon route.

Image: Defendants Dias Kadyrbayev (L) and Azamat Tazhayakov are pictured in a courtroom sketch.

Photograph: Reuters

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