Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
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By Jake Tapper
The facts, as asserted by the criminal complaint, in the case of the United States of America v. Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos, provoke a number of questions that further seem to undermine the suspects’ veracity – or at least suggest law enforcement isn’t stating their entire case yet.
Through the haze of conflicting accounts and changing stories, we arrive at the what the FBI says is the timeline:
Thursday, April 18:
After the suspects’ photos were released, Kadyrbayev was driving home when Phillipos called him. Phillipos told him to turn on the TV when he got home because one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks “looked familiar.” He did so and “thought that one of the bombers looked like (Dzhokhar) Tsarnaev.”
Kadyrbayev texted Tazhayakov: “Have you seen the news?”
Kadyrbayev informed Tazhayakov that TV news was showing photographs of Tsarnaev and identifying him as one of the terrorists.
At their apartment, Kadyrbayev showed Tazhayakov “photographs of Tsarnaev broadcast by CNN.”
Between 8:43 p.m. and 8:48 p.m. Thursday, Kadyrbayev texted Tsarnaev and “told him he looked like the suspect on television. Tsarnaev’s return texts contained ‘lol’ and other things” Kadyrbayev “interpreted as jokes such as ‘you better not text me’ and ‘come to my room and take whatever you want.’”
Kadyrbayev then texted Phillipos and told him to go to Tsarnaev’s dorm room, where the other two met him. Kadyrbayev showed Tazhayakov the text from Tsarnaev that said, “I’m about to leave if you need something in my room take it,” which caused Tazhayakov to think “he would never see Tsarnaev alive again.”
Question: So, shortly before 9 p.m. Tsarnaev “jokes” that Kadyrbayev should “come to my room and take whatever you want,” and minutes later the three students go to his apartment and collect incriminating evidence – and those are unrelated? There remains no admission that the text from Tsarnaev was an instruction to take the incriminating evidence.
At Tsarnaev’s apartment, the three noticed a backpack containing "fireworks,” fireworks that had been “opened and emptied of powder.” Kadyrbayev “knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the Marathon bombing.”
Kadyrbayev also found a jar of Vaseline in the room and told Tazhayakov he believed Tsarnaev had used the Vaseline to “make a bomb.”
Question: Who sees Vaseline and thinks, “Oh, that must have been used to make a bomb”? (In a footnote we’re told that about one month before the bombing, Tsarnaev had told the two Kazakh students “he knew how to make a bomb.” Was that part of it?)
Kadyrbayev “decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend avoid trouble. He decided to take Tsarnaev’s laptop as well because he did not want Tsarnaev’s roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack.”
Question: Does that make any sense? He decided to take Tsarnaev’s laptop as well because he did not want Tsarnaev’s roommate “to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack”? That’s less suspicious?
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos returned to Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov’s apartment with the materials.
Phillipos later recalled that all three of them “started to freak out, because it became clear from a CNN report that we were watching that Jahar was one of the Boston Marathon bombers.” Kadyrbayev said they “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get into trouble.” Phillipos said he didn’t understand what Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were talking about because “they were speaking in Russian.”
Kadyrbayev asked, “Should we get rid of the stuff?” (or words to that effect) Phillipos recalled.
“Do what you have to do,” Phillipos replied.
They put it all, along with some trash, in a big black trash bag. Kadyrbayev threw the trash bag into a Dumpster.
Friday, April 19:
About 6 a.m., the three saw news reports identifying the Tsarnaev brothers as the terrorists and reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was dead.
Phillipos was interviewed by investigators on April 19, 20, 25 and 26. On April 19, according to the court document, he lied to investigators about the trip to Tsarnaev’s dorm. On April 20 and 25, he said he remembered going to the dorm room, but no one was there and the door was locked. During the April 26 interview, according to the court document, Phillipos confessed his lies and gave some of the above account. On April 26, law enforcement recovered Tsarnaev’s backpack from the landfill in New Bedford.