Azamat Tazhayakov (left), Dias Kadyrbayev, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (right) in a photo taken in Times Square. The picture, which appeared on Tsarnaev’s page on VKontakt, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, is believed to be from November 2012.
Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were accused Wednesday of removing evidence from his dorm room. Criminal complaints were filed against the three.
The complaints against the three revealed that Tsarnaev cut his long hair after the April 15 attack but before the FBI released his photo and that he allegedly told friends in March that he knew “how to make a bomb.”
The complaints suggest that the 19-year-old suspect was practically blasé when one of the friends texted to say “he looked like the man in the FBI photos of the bomb suspect.”
Among his replies: ‘lol,” according to the complaints.
Attorneys for the three suspects that were arrested for allegedly assisting in the Boston Marathon bombing maintain their clients’ innocence and say that they were shocked by the attack.
The complaints were filed against Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice, and Robel Phillipos, who was charged with making false statements.
The backpack was later tossed in the garbage, though the suspects’ gave conflicting statement about whether that happened before or after Tsarnaev had been publicly named as the bombing suspect following a night of bloody mayhem.
As the allegations against them were unveiled, Tsarnaev’s three friends appeared in Boston Federal Court Wednesday afternoon. None of the charges suggested they had prior knowledge of the dual bombings that killed three and wounded more than 200 near the finish line of the race.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev — who are from Kazakhstan and were detained more than a week ago on immigration charges — did not seek bail and were ordered held until a May 14 hearing.
Phillipos is being held until a detention hearing Monday. As he was read his rights, Federal Judge Marianne Bowler admonished him, saying, “I suggest you pay attention to me rather than looking down.”
Outside the courthouse, Harlan Protass, a lawyer for Tazhayakov, said his client “has cooperated fully with the authorities and looks forward to the truth coming out in this case.”
Robert Stahl, a lawyer for Kadyrbayev, said the college sophomore “absolutely denies” allegations of a coverup and was “shocked and horrified” by the bombing. He said his client told investigators about ditching the items from the dorm room but “did not know those items were involved in a bombing.”
Although only Tazhayakov is currently enrolled, all three men knew Tsarnaev from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
The narrative outlined in the court papers begins about a month ago when, according to Tazhayakov, Tsarnaev told him and Kadyrbayev that he “knew how to make a bomb.”
Kadyrbayev last saw Tsarnaev on April 17, two days after the bombing, at his dorm room and noticed that he had given himself a short haircut. They chatted outside the dorm, the complaint said.
Little more than 24 hours later, the FBI released photos and video of two men wanted in the bombing. The suspects were not yet identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan.
At least two of the three friends thought one of the men in the pictures looked like Tsarnaev, and Kadyrbayev texted him to say so, the FBI said.
Tsarnaev fired off a flurry of texts, including, “lol,” “you better not text me” and “come to my room and take whatever you want,” the court papers said.
The trio then met at Tsarnaev’s dorm room, where they learned he had already left and were let in by his roommate. After watching a movie, they spotted a dark backpack containing seven red tubes of fireworks that had been emptied, and Kadyrbayev decided to take it, according to one of the complaints. They also took a laptop – now turned over to the FBI — because they didn’t want to arouse the roommate’s suspicions about the backpack, the document said. After leaving the dorm, the three friends “started to freak out” because they realized Tsarnaev was wanted in the bombing, Phillipos said, according to the feds.
They then “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get in trouble,” Kadyrbayev told agents, according to the complaint.
Kadyrbayev allegedly put the items in a large trash bag and tossed it into a dumpster near his off-campus apartment.
The suspects’ statements clashed on whether that happened the night of the April 18, before Tsarnaev was formally identified as the accused bomber, or the morning after – an important point if their defense is that they had no idea the items could be evidence.
Tsarnaev never returned to his dorm room. Authorities say that after the FBI put their pictures out,
Dzhokhar told law enforcement officials during questioning he and his brother wanted to defend Islam after the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.