Use of WMD among Boston charges

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Massachusetts university student who is a suspect in the Boston Marathon blasts, was on Monday charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was accused of joining with his brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.

Two U.S. officials said preliminary evidence from the younger man’s interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religious extremism but were apparently not involved with Islamic terrorist organisations.

The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia, had been living in the U.S. for about a decade.

In the criminal complaint outlining the allegations, investigators said Tsarnaev and his brother each placed a knapsack containing a bomb in the crowd near the finish line of the world’s most prestigious marathon.

The FBI said surveillance-camera footage showed Dzhokhar manipulating his mobile phone and lifting it to his ear just instants before the two blasts.

After the first blast, a block away from Dzhokhar, “virtually every head turns to the east ... and stares in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm,” the complaint says. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, “virtually alone of the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm.”

The criminal complaint shed no light on the motive for the attack.

The Obama administration said it had no choice but to prosecute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the federal court system. Some politicians had suggested he be tried as an enemy combatant before a military tribunal, where defendants are denied some of the usual constitutional protections.

But Tsarnaev is a naturalised U.S. citizen, and under U.S. law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, said White House spokesman Jay Carney. The next step in the legal process against Tsarnaev is likely to be an indictment, in which federal prosecutors could add charges. State prosecutors have said they expect to charge Tsarnaev separately in the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who was shot in his cruiser on Thursday night on the campus in Cambridge.

Entitled to have lawyer

After Tsarnaev is indicted in the bombing, he will have an arraignment in federal court, when he will be asked to enter a plea.

Under federal law, as a defendant charged with a crime that carries a potential death penalty, he is entitled to at least one lawyer who is knowledgeable about the law in capital cases.Tsarnaev did not speak during Monday’s proceeding, except to answer “no” when asked if he could afford his own lawyer, according to the notes. He nodded when asked if he was able to answer some questions and whether he understood his rights.

A statement released on Monday by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs bolstered the U.S. officials’ comments about seeking details on the suspect’s other modes of communication and his associations.

Two foreign nationals arrested on Saturday on immigration violations are from the central Asian nation and may have known the suspects, the Ministry said. U.S. authorities came across the students while searching for “possible links and contacts.”

According to the criminal complaint, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hands when he was captured hiding out in a boat in a backyard in the Boston suburb of Watertown.

The document included a chilling detail of the suspects’ flight from Cambridge: one of the brothers — it wasn’t clear which one — told a carjacking victim during their getaway attempt, “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.”

Shortly after the charges were unveiled, Boston-area residents and many of their well-wishers including President Barack Obama at the White House observed a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m. the moment a week earlier when the bombs exploded.

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