Now With Alex
updated 4/23/2013 10:50:05 AM ET 2013-04-23T14:50:05

Suspect tweeted about Nutella, his kitten and, after the bombing, being a "stress free kind of guy."

The only living suspect of the Boston marathon bombings, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, left an extensive digital footprint, even after allegedly carrying out the attack.  On Wednesday, a day after two homemade bombs killed three people and injured more than 170, the college student tweeted: “I’m a stress free kind of guy.” That day, he returned to his university, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where he attended classes, partied, and worked out at the gym.

For the most part, his tweets over the past year seem no different from those of any regular college student. On March 22, he wrote, “I was gonna go for a 6am run aha I’m joking I woke up to eat some Nutella.” In November 2012 he tweeted a photo of what appears to be his kitten and said, “We’re best friends already, f— my allergies tho.”

A message he sent in March of that year, however, may be a window into another side of the college student. He wrote, “decade in america already, i want out.”

Alex Wagner discussed the suspect’s possible motives with NBC’s Pete Williams and the NOW panel — watch the full segment above.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student at “UMASS-Amherst.” That is incorrect. He was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Video: Was Tamerlan the mastermind and Dzhokhar 'brainwashed'?

  1. Closed captioning of: Was Tamerlan the mastermind and Dzhokhar 'brainwashed'?

    >>> the one surviving suspect in the boston marathon bombing, dzhokah tsarnaev, has begun communicating with police for the first time since his dramatic capture on friday evening. the 19-year-old suspect is awake and being interrogated. reportedly writing down answers due to a bullet wound to his throat. one that may have been the result of a suicide attempt made during tsarnaev's standoff with the police. it's possible that the fbi may bring official charges against him this afternoon. for investigators, the top priority is determining weather dzhokhar and his brother, tamerlan had accomplices. on thursday night the suspects hijacked an suv and according to t"the new york times," told its owner they planned to go on to new york city .

    >> we have reason to believe based upon the evidence that was found at the scene, the explosions, the explosive ordinance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had, that they were going to attack other individuals.

    >> as the investigation continues, more clues are revealed relating to the psychology of the suspects. but so far, any conclusions are few and far between. one day after the bombing, as boston mourned the dead and wounded, dzhokah tsarnaev went to parties, attended classes at his college, amherst and worked out.

    >> i said yeah it's a tragedy that it's happening right now, it's a sad thing.

    >> some suggested that dzhokah tsarnaev's brother, tamerlan was the mastermind of the plot and heavily influenced dzhokhar into participating.

    >> the brother was a follower. he read the magazines on how to create bombs, disrupt the general public and things like that and he brainwashed his younger brother into, from there. what happened on marathon day. you know, that's so unfortunate.

    >> it is a theory that's supported by the brothers' uncle who asserted that tamerlan had quote used his younger brother . he went on to say that he had stopped speaking to tamerlan in 2009 because of his religious radicalization.

    >> i was shocked when i heard his words, his phrases, when he started talking all, i mean every other word -- he starts sticking in, words of god, it wasn't devotion, it was something -- as it's called being radicalized. not understanding even what he's talking.

    >> the " boston globe " reports that in january, tamerlan interrupted a speaker at a cambridge mosque who made a connection between the prophet mohammed and martin luther king jr . the congregation disagreed with tamerlan and he was quote, shouted out of the mosque. speculation continues about why these two young men may have conspired to kill en masse, as the country marks a week since the deadly bombing. in medford, massachusetts, the funeral for 29-year-old victim, krystle campbell began just over an hour ago and at 2:50 p.m ., president obama will join the city of boston in a moment of silence, mayor menino will observe the time from boston common . joining me washington bureau chief of the the " huffington post ," graham, and the grio editor, joy reid and the deputy director of the " national journal ."

    >> and pete , there's a lot of information that's come out over course of the weekend. we know that the fbi is interrogating dzhokhar tsarnaev. what are they hoping to get from him at this point?

    >> interrogating may be a bit of a grand word here, because it's certainly not the kind of interrogation they had planned, where they speak to someone. it's being conducted with notes and nods and because he can't speak, he's on a ventilator. so it's a very slow process. but during this period, their government is limited in terms of what they can ask him. because they're doing this public safety exception to the miranda rule . they've not advised him of his rights. so they can only ask about potential threats to public safety . were there other conspirators, other bombs out there, any reason to believe that public safety is in any way jeopardized.

    >> pete , one of the persons cited in terms of this idea that there may have been more violent plans on order at the hands of the brothers is this person who was hijacked by the brothers on thursday night. and the driver of a mercedes suv. we know that he's been cooperating with police. is there anything else that we know about his involvement in all of this?

    >> yeah, the business about new york is very iffy, frankly. i've emailed briefly with this person. he claims that he escaped with they stopped at a gasoline station . but he's also told the police that he was told by these two men, that they were the marathon bombers. but that they were not going to kill him because he was not an american. what he told the police was, that he thought they were speaking arabic. that's probably not the case, they were probably speaking russian or some dialect. and he thought he heard the word " manhattan ." but he wasn't sure about it. you know, people i've talked to today say they don't quite know what to make of that. you know, i guess you have to ask yourself, do mont people say when they're going to new york , i'm going to manhattan . or do they say, i'm going to new york . so that's very difficult to tell if that's indeed where they were going. they clearly wanted to get away. but whether they had any destination in mind or not, i think they have no idea and that's one of the questions they'll ultimately get around to asking the surviving suspect.

    >> the manhattan piece would seem to be sort of a critical part of denying him his miranda rights , right? the idea is there's some sort of public threat that may be out there. if the threat, potential bomb plan was located in new york city , that would seem to at least justify as the administration would call it, the public safety exemption.

    >> well i don't think they need to justify the public safety exception right now. the court rulings are fairly clear on this. it started, the public safety exception was born in a relatively simple case of someone who robbed a store. a question about whether or not they left a gun in there or not. so they wanted to ask the person where the gun was, it's been extended to terrorism cases. but it's logical that you would want to ask a threat to public safety , regardless of whether they stated manhattan or anywhere else. the mere fact that they had already carried out a bombing. that they had additional explosives when the police were chasing them thursday night, i think gives ample reason that the justice department would argue if it ever gets to court that they had a legitimate reason for invoking the public safety exception.

    >> pete i know you're a busy man. before you go, senator lindsay graham was citing an fbi source, saying that tamerlan 's name was misspelled when he initially got on the plane to russia a year or two ago and therefore got sort of lost in the system. we were asked by the russians to monitor him and effectively vet him as a potential terror suspect and one of the reasons he may not have been vetted as thoroughly as he would have been is because of a misspelling of his name. do you have anything on that?

    >> i think that conflates possibly two issues. one is that they were not really asked to monitor hill. the russians said here's this guy, we think he may have become radicalized. the bureau says that they looked at his communications, looked at everything they could under the limited legal authority they have in these circumstances and ultimately interview him and members of his family and said to the russians , we don't find anything here. can you give us something more to go on? and they say the russians never responded. that's 2011 . then he takes the trip to russia in 2012 . it was initially claimed that he went on an alias, perhaps there was a misspelling of his name. in any event there's a record of his travel to russia . it shows up in his immigration documents that he went to russia in january and came back in july. so the system did record his trip.

    >> nbc news pete williams , as this develops, i'm sure we'll be coming back to you for more, thanks for joining us today.

    >>> also joining the panel now is bbc world news america africaor, katty kay . one of the first investigation questions we're seeing, perhaps not surprisingly because we live and work in a particularly heated partisan times is whether or not there were failures in terms of the fbi gathering intelligence, given the fact that this guy was kind of already on the radar and flagged by the russian government .

    >> we saw this after 9/11 and we're going to see it again. what did they know, what should they have known before he went to russia and after he came back. quiet has to be asked and it will be asked and eventually it will be answered. you also have the investigation itself. they have to still lock down this case against this young man. he's presumed innocent in this country. and you have to be careful even using the, the imminent threat exemption here. any evidence they get from him without the miranda could be thrown out in court and could undermine the case.

    >> i want to talk more in greater detail miranda rights and the constitutional implications of this case. but before we get to that, there's been a lot of information revealed about character, if you will. what could have happened to these two young men to cause them to act, to potentially cause them to act in this way. they are suspects. we don't know that they actually committed the crime. but given who they are and their background. joy, i'll just call to everyone's attention the twitter feed that dzhokhar tsarnaev had. a twitter feed, a window into their soul. the tweets are fairly remarkable in so far as they're not at all what you would expect from someone who is potentially becoming radicalized. on april 16th , this is after the bombing, he tweets, i'm a stress-free kind of guy. the day of the bombing, he tweets, ain't no love in the heart of the city . stay safe, people. november 4th , he talks about a kitten that he's adopted. what did you think when you saw those.

    >> when i first saw them, i thought it must be a fake account. because the things are so mundane. they seem to be the mundane tweets that any 19-year-old kid would do. i mean he seemed to be listening to the same kind of music, most kids his age listen to. tweeting lyrics from eminem or from whatever jay-z, which is pretty much any teenager, anywhere in the country would be doing. that probably is the most frightening about this. these kinds of cases you want the person to be some sort of monster you could easily pick out in the crowd. not an ordinary-seeming kid. he had been in the states since he was eight years old and was very much like a typical american teenager, if you go by those tweets. the other way to look at it, which is also frightening, is that it's really frightening and chilling that someone would be in such a mundane frame of mind after such a horrific thing that they participated in allegedly.

    >> kerry, there's been talk about whether or not his older brother exerted undue influence , the term brainwash has been thrown about. in terms of our collective indictment of these two young men, how much is that mitigated by the notion that he may have somehow been innocent in it so far as his older brother was quote-unquote the mastermind? does it matter at all?

    >> i don't know whether it matters legally. whether it changes the actual case against him or whether it changes the outcome of any case against him. i suspect it will be raised. i have a 19-year-old sond and i can tell you it's hard to get into their minds. because what they say publicly and what they might say on twitter and social media , is not necessarily a reflection of what they're thinking actually inside. and the other thing i would say about them is they're incredibly impressionable. there's a reason we send 19-year-old boys off to war. because they will follow and i think that, it does seem to me plausible that he was living here in the united states . he didn't have his mother and his father here, he was living here with his 26-year-old brother, who was kind of in loco parentis and may have had this extraordinary influence on him. when you put together what his friends have said and the friends we have spoken to have said about dzhokhar. he did seem to be friendly, easy-going likable kid. the questions are myriad, right? it doesn't add up with what he did. what he put on his twitter feed didn't add up with what he did. somehow he's being influenced. he's an adult. he takes responsibility for what he did. he stood in the crowd, he put the back pack down, he took lives. and that will be the case in which he's tried. he will be tried as an adult.

    >> you have already heard people like dianne feinstein and chuck schumer calling for capital punishment here, ryan, so in terms of a nation in some way being more forgiving because of the strength potentially of his older brother in hatching this plan -- it wouldn't seem, that wouldn't seem to be in the cards.

    >> right, i mean and plus, your centrist democrats are always going to be the first out of the gate calling for the death penalty. they're the ones that don't want to look like they're being soft on terror here. but you know, i think what this, what this goes to is that it makes it much more difficult for law enforcement and for politicians to paint this as black and white . we like to see things in terms of good and evil. evil-doers, out doing evil. and certainly the act itself is an act of evil. it's horrible what happened. but then you put that next to the description of dzhokhar by his friends and the one that emerges from his twitter feet. when you hear the president say we're confronting the face of evil and you hear his friends say, he's the nicest guy ever. he arrived, he would pick you up.

    >> and adopted kittens. twitter photos of kittens. that doesn't excuse anything, in terms of complicating the picture here.

    >> it does lend credibility to the idea that his older brother was the one that might have influenced this. it's the perfect age, what, 26 and 19, for the 19-year-old to look up to the 26-year-old. and i think it's revealing, too, that he kind sounds like he drove over his brother.

    >> yes, well, in the escape.

    >> i'd like to see, if that's true, it would be interesting to see if they charge him with that. you know --

    >> involuntary manslaughter.

    >> that would be one of the myriad charges.

    >> when you speak to people that know about radicalization, that it can happen very, very fast and that this is an age at which it happens. somewhere between 18 and your mid 20s. actually they think 26 is pretty old. that that's quite, usually it happens a little bit earlier in your early 20s that the radicalization process happens but it can happen within the space of a few months, certainly and that ties in with where he was during that six-month period and the stories you hear about some kind of change taking place in the older brother.

    >> i'll say in addition to the tweets about nutella and kittens and being a stress-free kind of guy. there's the tweet on march 14th of this year, or last year where he said a decade in america, already? i want out so certainly there's some sense of despair at his situation and as you said, not having your parents at home. inside the mind of someone is almost, it is an impossible place to go. certainly everybody will be maging their armchair psychological evaluations in the coming days.

    >>> coming up, the u.s. government has not yet red dzhokhar tsarnaev his miranda rights . we'll discuss when the aclu's mike german joins us just ahead.


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