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FBI: Tsarnaevs planned to explode bomb in Times Square

April 25, 2013 at 3:37 PM   |   Comments

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BOSTON, April 25 (UPI) -- The FBI told New York officials the Boston Marathon bombing suspects planned to travel to New York City and detonate explosives in Times Square.

"Last night, we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday at a news conference.

"He told the FBI apparently that he and his brother had intended to drive to New York and detonate additional explosives in Times Square. They had built these additional explosives and we know they had the capacity to carry out the attacks."

The newspaper said the information came from questioning of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in his hospital room.

Tsarnaev told investigators he and his brother needed more gas for the car they were in, forcing them to stop at a gas station and allowing police officers to catch up to them.

Several media outlets also quoted unnamed sources as saying Tsarnaev told investigators the brothers had targeted Times Square.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a confrontation with police. His brother Dzhokhar, 19, has told investigators they planned to drive to New York to set off more explosive devices but ended up throwing them at police instead, sources told The New York Post.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday information from the brothers showed they may have intended to go to New York to "party."

The Post said the FBI told state officials about the New York link Thursday.

One gun -- a semiautomatic handgun -- has been recovered from the two men suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings, police told ABC News.

The gun, presumably used by Tamerlan Tsarnaev was recovered at the shootout scene in Watertown, Mass., and is in the custody of the Massachusetts State Police, ABC News reported Thursday.

No guns were recovered from the boat in the back yard where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured Friday after an intense manhunt. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed earlier Friday.

Law enforcement sources said the recovered gun was a Ruger 9mm semiautomatic handgun and the serial number had been obliterated.

The apparent lack of firearms led some officials to theorize the brothers' fatal attack on Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, was an attempt to arm themselves, officials said.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15. Recent figures indicate 34 people were still hospitalized, one listed in critical condition, ABC News said.

Law enforcement officials told ABC News Tamerlan Tsarnaev apparently began collecting materials for the explosives at least two months ago when he was spotted at a New Hampshire fireworks store. Store personnel told the FBI $400 worth of fireworks were sold to him in February.

U.S. officials also said the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service contacted the CIA and the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The older Tsarnaev brother "had changed drastically since 2010" and was preparing to travel to a part of Russia "to join unspecified underground groups," said a one-page request from the intelligence service, cited by The New York Times, that was sent to the FBI in March 2011 and to the CIA in September 2011.

U.S. authorities told Russian intelligence they had no suspicious information about the man but they put Tamerlan Tsarnaev on two government watch lists late that year that were supposed to alert authorities if he traveled overseas.

One of the databases, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, contains about 700,000 names and is the source for information for other government watch lists -- including the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database and the Transportation Security Administration's "no fly" list.

When Tamerlan Tsarnaev left the United States Jan. 12, 2012, for a six-month trip to Dagestan and Chechnya -- predominantly Muslim republics in Russia's North Caucasus region -- his flight reservation tripped a security alert to customs authorities, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate committee Tuesday.

It evidently did not set off a TIDE alert because the spelling variants of his name and the birth dates entered into the system -- variants Russia included in its warnings -- were different enough from the correct information to bypass an alert, a U.S. official told the Times.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been the subject of a massive manhunt all day Friday and was cornered just before nightfall, hiding in a boat in the driveway of a house in Watertown.

"They probably didn't know whether he had a gun," one law enforcement official told The Washington Post. "Hours earlier, he and his brother had killed a police officer, shot another officer and thrown explosives out of their cars as the police were chasing them. They couldn't assume that he did not have a gun and more explosives."

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