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Boston Under Siege

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is recovering from gunshot wounds to his neck and leg as authorities wait to question him about the attack. They are likely to press charges Sunday.

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News Footage of the Boston Bomber Chase

From the wild firefight in Watertown to the crowd erupting in applause after his capture, see the most dramatic moments from the pursuit of the terrorist suspect.

Suspect Fled on Foot

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fled Thursday's firefight on foot, Mass. State Police Col. Timothy Alben told reporters Friday evening. He remained at large. Still, the authorities re-opened Boston's subway and lifted the request to stay indoors.

Gunshots in Watertown


Every American Muslim's Fear

The Tsarnaev brothers are Muslim. They are homegrown jihadists. But careful, writes Charles King, are these terrorists really any different from Adam Lanza and other mass murderers?

The naming of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured alive last night, have made the nightmare scenario for many American Muslims come true. The Tsarnaev brothers will forever be the poster children for a particularly American fear, reflected in everything from blockbuster films to popular fiction: that the English-speaking, dark-haired young men with unpronounceable names, who wear baseball caps, win scholarships, and garner wrestling trophies, are also the ones who could blow you up.

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in an image taken before the explosion at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Handout/UPI, via Landov)

 News media are already marking the Boston bombings as a turning point, the moment when homegrown jihadists truly came into the open and declared their desire to destroy America from within. And unlike the spectacular plans for bringing down an airliner over Detroit or leaving a car bomb in Times Square, the weapons of this jihadist war require only trips to a hardware store and a sporting goods shop. “We give him a green card and he comes to hate America,” said Fox News’s Megyn Kelly on Friday.

But in a moment of instant opinions and too-quick analysis, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. The important point about the Tsarnaev brothers is not that they were Chechens, or Muslims, or may have recently visited relatives in Russia. It’s that in asking why mass killers do what they do, we’ve settled into a familiar pattern of turning first to religion and ethnicity as ways of making sense of things.

Bombing Coverage

NBC Gets Boston Right

Other outlets may be reporting the latest Twitter rumor, but NBC has been consistently correct. ‘Today’ executive producer Don Nash tells David Freedlander how Savannah Guthrie has come into her own—and why Matt Lauer was stuck in Texas.

Don Nash had just gotten back from a vacation in the Bahamas when his phone rang at 3 o’clock Friday morning. By 4:30, the executive producer of the Today show was at 30 Rock, and by 6 a.m. the show was on the air, broadcasting live reports from the ongoing manhunt in Boston.

Savannah Guthrie and Don Borelli

Savannah Guthrie and Don Borelli appear on the "Today" show on April 19. (Peter Kramer/NBC NewsWire/Getty)

Throughout the rest of the morning, NBC provided steady, fact-based coverage of a hyperactive event, cementing a week in which the network was consistently right about events on the ground even as other networks and news outlets seemed to report the latest rumor to pop up on Twitter. The performance could spark a turnaround after what has been a difficult stretch for the Today show and, by extension, NBC.

“This is a story with a lot of moving parts, and in the age of social media there is a lot of reporting coming from a lot of different sources, and I think we are just being extra careful,” Nash said. “If that means we are not going to be first sometimes, that is OK. We would rather be right and last than be first and wrong.”

The Aftermath

Defeating Fear

It was a week filled with terror, anxiety, and mourning. Joshua DuBois on how Americans can respond to such horrifying events.

As I type this, thousands of police officers and millions of citizens in Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown, Massachusetts, are on high alert, as authorities hone in on the second suspect in Monday’s horrible bombing. I hope by the time you read this article or soon after, justice will have the upper hand, and that the people of Boston will finally have some relief.

In West, Texas, a town still smolders after a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant claimed multiple precious lives, including of brave first responders who rushed in to help.

And here in Washington, D.C., we are a city on edge, with ricin-laced letters in our mailboxes, covering even the simplest tasks—riding the subway, going into work—with a thin layer of anxiety.

Fear is at our national doorstep. We’re huddled inside as it knocks. The question becomes, how will we respond? No one knows for sure, but we would do well to look to history for a few instructions.

Up All Night

Twitter Never Sleeps

Social media blanketed the Boston police shoot-out, and who knew an alleged terrorist was tweeting? Lauren Ashburn on how the mainstream press was eclipsed.

While most of us were sound asleep, Andrew “You can call me Kitz” Kitzenberg took to Twitter to chronicle the most intensely watched news event in the world—all from his Massachusetts home.

Spectators clap, Watertown Mass.

Spectators clap and cheer while law-enforcement members leave the scene near Franklin Street on April 19, 2013, in Watertown, Massachusetts. (Photo Illustration: TDB. Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty)

12:55 a.m. Shoot out outside my room in Watertown. 62 Laurel st.

12:57 a.m. Shoot out with 5 minutes of gun fire and pressure cooker bomb

Tsarnaev Brothers

From Boxing to Bombs

Tamerlan was killed in a firefight, and Dzhohkhar survived to be taken alive by police after a 22-hour siege. As the search for answers begins, Michael Daly on what set the brothers on the path to violence, and how Boston defeated them.

The people of Watertown were awakened early Friday morning by the shootout that claimed the first suspect in the Marathon bombing case and then spent an eternal day in fear behind locked doors, feeling the terror that terrorists want you to feel.

The shutdown was finally ended early Friday evening, but the second suspect was still at large and the people had only just begun to venture from their homes when more shots were fired. Word spread that the police had the second suspect surrounded. The people waited and waited and then a voice crackled the good news over the police radio. The people of Watertown were already cheering when the news was tweeted by Boston police.

“CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”

The moment then came to remember the officer who had been murdered the night before and the other officer who been seriously wounded. Those brave souls and the three innocents who had been killed in the bombing and the 170 who had been injured.


The Chechens in America

The two suspects—one dead, one still on the loose—in the Boston Marathon attack are Chechen. Journalist Andrew Meier explains what that means—and why they’re here.

First off—who are these young men? 

From what I’ve been able to gather about the Tsarnaev brothers, only one direct link to Chechnya has emerged. Anzor Tsarnaev, their father—who claims to have spoken with one of his sons the day after the Marathon attacks—lives in Makhachkala, Dagestan, a small region of the Russian Federation that borders Chechnya on the Black Sea. The father has said that his elder son, Tamerlan, now dead, visited “relatives” in Chechnya last year. (U.S. officials report that Tamerlan flew to Moscow in January, 2012, and returned to the U.S. six months later.)

The young men’s father is said to be an ethnic Chechen, but born and raised in Kyrgyzstan—a former Soviet republic in Central Asia. (On Red Army Day in the winter of 1944, Stalin deported hundreds of thousands Chechens from their homeland—many died, but many who survived the journey resettled in Central Asia.) The Tsarnaevs' mother, who does not have a traditional Chechen first name, is said to be from Dagestan.  Tamerlan, the older brother, was reportedly born in Dagestan, while his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was born in 1993—in Kyrgyzstan. So it would seem—at this early point—that their ties to Chechnya were tenuous. It remains to be seen, if in fact Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited Chechnya last year, what he did during his time there.

The suspects' family responds to the hunt for the two young men.


An Impressive Lockdown

In the 12 years since September 11, America has made huge progress on disaster-response—even if suspects are still at large. Boston proves the point.

Homeland-security experts say Boston’s police, firefighters and hospitals responded brilliantly to Monday’s terror attacks—culminating in the 4.6 million-person city lockdown on Friday—a key test of urban preparedness, though the primary suspect remains at large.


Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe, via Getty

Law-enforcement and counter-terrorism officials have been planning such a response since the World Trade Center attacks of 2001. In 2004, a cabinet-level group known as the Homeland Security Council released a paper detailing 15 nightmare scenarios covering everything from biological and chemical weapons attacks to natural disasters. The twelfth scenario is titled “Explosives Attack: Bombing Using Improvised Explosive Device.”

In the simulation, there were multiple attackers, including a truck bomb, suicide bombers and the home-made bombs known as IEDs. All of it took place inside an enclosed sports arena.


Al Qaeda Is Probably Pleased

Russia, the U.S., and Israel: these are some of the targets of the global jihad. Bruce Riedel on why al Qaeda likely welcomes the Boston attack, whether they had any role in it or not.

The two Chechen immigrants apparently responsible for the terror attack on the Boston Marathon may never have had any contact with al Qaeda—or even a single member of al Qaeda—but they are likely soon to be lauded as “heroes” of the global jihad.


Investigators make an inspection from the bucket of a fire truck after the explosions near the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon. (Matt Rourke/AP)

It is much too soon to come to any hard conclusions about the motives and intentions of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged perpetrators, but it is not too soon to understand how al Qaeda and associated jihadists see the Chechen struggle against Russia in the context of their own ideology and narrative. Al Qaeda has long seen the Chechen struggle as part of the global war between Islam and its enemies. For the extremists who run al Qaeda and related movements, Russia’s actions in Chechnya are no different than Israeli actions in Gaza, French actions in Mali, or American actions in Afghanistan. All are allegedly part of a global conspiracy against Islam that ranges from the Caucasus to Kashmir to Bali.

In an audio message issued less than two weeks ago, Ayman Zawahiri, the Egyptian leader of al Qaeda and its chief ideologue, said the greatest enemies of Islam are the “biggest criminals in Washington, Moscow, and Tel Aviv.” Thus Zawahiri lumped American, Russia, and Israel together as the enemies of Muslims everywhere.


Here Comes the Second-Guessing

As the manhunt in Boston unfolds, Obama administration officials are already preparing for the inevitable recriminations surrounding the attack and its aftermath.

As the extraordinary manhunt for a suspected terrorist played out in Boston, officials on the scene were focused on the unfolding operation. But back in Washington some officials were already warily turning their attention to the second-guessing and finger-pointing that inevitably follows a terrorist incident.

SWAT Team on Nicholas Avenue

A SWAT team files down Nicholas Avenue on April 19 during an ongoing manhunt for a suspect in the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon earlier this week. (Boston Globe via Getty)

Throughout the intelligence community, officials were scouring terrorist watch lists and monitoring intercepted conversations to learn anything they could about the origins of the attack and whether any threat remained. But one intel professional conceded that they were simultaneously looking out for any evidence that the government could have missed any advanced warnings or failed to connect the dots in the days or weeks before the Boston attacks. “At this point it’s just part of the ritual,” the source told The Daily Beast. “It goes with the territory.”

So far, nothing has emerged publicly to suggest there has been an intelligence failure of any sort. The administration—and especially the FBI—has gotten high marks for its handling of the Boston bombings. President Obama had been widely praised for his firm but restrained public response.

Heavy History

Tamerlan’s Brutal Namesake?

As the world’s attention levels on the Tsarnaev brothers, a question is bubbling up—was the older brother named after a vicious warlord? By Eliza Shapiro

As information trickles out about the two brothers named primary suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, some in the media are starting to observe that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed Thursday night in a chaotic shootout with police, may be named after one of history’s most ferocious conquerors.


Tamerlan Tsarnaev arrives at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts center in April 2009 in Boston. (Barcroft Media, via Landov)

Amir Temur, also known as Tamerlane, was a Central Asian ruler and warlord who lived in the 14th and 15th centuries. Scholars estimate that his military campaigns throughout Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and the modern Middle East killed about 17 million people, or 5 percent of the world’s population at the time.

Identifying strongly with Mongol culture, Tamerlane wanted to restore the empire of Genghis Khan and conquered the modern nations of Iran, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Syria, India, and southern regions of Russia. He was a devout Muslim who referred to himself as the “Sword of Islam,” even though he razed many of the Islamic world’s greatest cities at the time.

140 Characters

Dzhokhar's Digital Trail

Save for a chilling message that reads like a warning, the surviving Boston suspect’s supposed Twitter account mostly shows a bored teenager.

As Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains on the lam amid a massive manhunt, a few fake online profiles of the 19-year-old have made the rounds. But this one seems to be the real deal—and what at first glance appear to be the musings of an average teenager have now taken on a chilling subtext. 

A cached profile photo of the handle @J_tsar matches images released by law-enforcement officials, and classmates on Twitter use it when they reference Tsarnaev. Other classmates confirmed to BuzzFeed that the profile is legitimate. People who knew Dzhokhar say he went by Jahar because it was easier to pronounce.

As such, as there are a few tweets that have taken on an ominous new light. Namely, this Jay-Z lyric, sent the day of the bombing, urging his followers to stay safe.

And this, the morning of the bombing:

Boston Suspects

Some Immigrants Kill

Two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing have been identified as Chechen immigrants. As the Senate debates immigration reform, Lloyd Green argues for more scrutiny of visa applicants.

Two days after the bipartisan immigration reform bill was introduced in the Senate, reality again reared its inconvenient head. The Brothers Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, have been identified as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. The two were from Chechnya, a Russian region rife with religious insurgency, and were here in the United States as permanent residents, though Dzhokhar reportedly became a citizen last Sept. 11. One is dead, and the other is on the run.

Boston Marathon

Emergency personnel respond to the scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe, via Getty)

If immigration reform is to become law, then Congress and President Obama must first address the fact that not everyone who comes to America likes us. Indeed, some immigrants want to kill us. As the horror of the past week reminds us, America is not immune from terror on its own soil. After 9/11, the country took serious measures to curb the importation of terror and to scrutinize more carefully who is granted a visa to play, work, and study. But it needs to do more.

Already, the number of visas granted to countries that have produced jihadists has been curbed. According to an analysis by NBC News, Yemeni students received 279 visas in 2010, compared with 376 in 2001. Visas granted to Pakistani students dropped from 3,880 in 2001 to 1,093, a 72 percent decline. As for Saudi Arabia, student visas increased, but overall non-immigration visas declined.

Uncle: 'Turn Yourself In'

Adrenalized, impassioned, and unforgiving, an uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Ruslan Tsarni, appealed to his fugitive nephew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to surrender to authorities. 'He put a shame on our family' and 'the entire Chechen ethnicity,' said Tsarni.

FBI: Two Suspects In Boston Bombing

In a press briefing Thursday afternoon, the FBI announced two unidentified suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, revealing pictures and video of the men and asking the public for help. "Identifying and locating those responsible is now our highest priority,' said DesLauriers.

Boston's Everyday Heroes

From the man in the cowboy hat to a baseball player who wrote 'Pray for Boston' on his glove, heroes big and small emerged in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing.

Obama: Everything Is Speculation

Speaking from the White House Tuesday, President Obama said the Boston bombing was being investigated by the FBI as an act of terrorism, but clarified that little else is known about who carried out the attack, or why.

Boston Marathon Explosion

Watch video of one of the explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon and the country.