Suspected Boston bombers eyed July 4th attack date — and 6 other new revelations

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has reportedly given investigators fresh insight into the attack

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother reportedly watched sermons by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on YouTube.
(Image credit: AP Photo/

Earlier this week, we found out that suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was "idolized" by the three college students accused of getting rid of evidence that implicated him in the attack. We also discovered that girls at his college found him "adorable."

Now details have emerged about what Tsarnaev told FBI investigators in the days after his capture.

Communicating by writing on a piece of paper and nodding, the wounded Tsarnaev shed light on his preparations for the bombing, according to The New York Times. After eventually being read his Miranda rights, he was moved to a prison medical center in Fort Devens, Mass., about 39 miles west of Boston.

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Here are the latest reported details from the case:

1. July 4th was the original target date

According to The New York Times, Dzhokhar told interrogators that he and his brother Tamerlan were originally planning to detonate the bombs on July 4th. But after finishing the explosives faster than anticipated in Tamerlan's Cambridge apartment, they decided to move the date up to April 15, Patriots' Day.

2. Suicide attacks were considered

The brothers considered suicide attacks before deciding to set off pressure-cooker bombs, reports the Times. They also drove around Boston to scout several possible bombing sites before settling on the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

3. They watched sermons by a famous radical cleric

Dzhokhar told investigators that he and his brother watched sermons by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on the Internet, according to Times. Awlaki was an American-born senior member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — a Yemeni affiliate of Al Qaeda proper — who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011. He was considered a threat because he was effective at spreading his jihadist message on sites like YouTube, and was regularly referred to as "the next Bin Laden." Awlaki was linked to the failed attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit in 2009, and the 2009 mass shooting at Ford Hood, Texas.

4. They were on their own

Dzhokhar told investigators that he and his brother acted alone, reports the Times. He also claimed that they weren't part of a larger terrorist network, and didn't know of any other planned attacks.

5. They had contacts with Dagestan militants

On Thursday, a Russian intelligence official told The Los Angeles Times that he believed Tamerlan met with militants in Dagestan during a six-month sojourn in 2012. Dagestan is a restive region in southern Russia where the Tsarnaev family — who are ethnic Chechens — had lived before emigrating to the United States.

"It looks like there was some interaction," the official said, before adding, "It doesn't seem like it was involving logistics or planning."

6. Tamerlan's wife is cleared for now

CBS News reports that the fingerprints and DNA on the bomb fragments at the site of the attack do not match those of Katherine Russell, Tamerlan's widow. Former assistant FBI director John Miller tells CBS News that investigators are still looking into a phone call made between Russell and Tamerlan hours after authorities released photos of the bombing suspects.

7. Tamerlan's body has been claimed

The body of Tamerlan, 26, who died in a shootout with police, was claimed on Thursday by a funeral home retained by his family, reports the Associated Press. The medical examiner, who determined the cause of death earlier this week, will reveal the details of his death after his body has been released and a death certificate is filed.

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Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.