Vaseline, Fireworks and Text Messages: What We Learned From New Boston Bombing Arrests

The FBI released three criminal complaints that fill in the details about the lack of planning and clumsy coverup that followed one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent American history.

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A collection of fireworks that was found inside a backpack belonging to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that was recovered by law enforcement agents from a landfill in New Bedford, Mass., on April 26, 2013.

Three friends of Boston Marathon Bomber suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev were charged in a criminal complaint Wednesday with a ham-handed plot to protect their friend by concealing evidence after the attack and then misleading law enforcement about what they had done.

The complaint alleges that even after the bombing, Tsarnaev was sending text messages to his friends, joking “lol” when one pointed out that he looked like one of the bombing suspects sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(PHOTOS: Images: Joy and Relief in Boston After Bombing Suspect’s Arrest)

Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, and Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice “by conspiring to destroy, conceal and cover up tangible objects” belonging to Tsarnaev, including a laptop computer and backpack containing fireworks. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, 19, was charged with willfully making materially false statements to federal law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation.

The criminal complaint continues to fill in details about the lack of planning and clumsy coverup that followed one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent American history. Among the details alleged in the complaint:

  • After the bombing, Tsarnaev cut his hair. The complaints says Kadyrbayev met with Tsarnaev at his dormitory. “Kadyrbayev noticed that Tsarnaev appeared to have given himself a short haircut.”
  • After the FBI released photos of the bombers, his friends recognized a resemblance to Tsarnaev. When Kadyrbayev confronted Tsarnaev by text message, saying he looked like the suspected bomber, Tsarnaev wrote back, “lol” and “you better not text me” and “come to my room and take whatever you want.” Another text message from Tsarnaev said, “I’m about to leave if you want something in my room take it.”
  • The three friends went to Tsarnaev’s apartment that same night. Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos went to the Tsarnaev’s dorm room to watch a movie, according to one version of events. Kadyrbayev noticed a bag of fireworks that had been emptied of powder. Kadyrbayev removed the bag and Tsarnaev’s laptop “in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble.” The friends also noticed a jar of Vaseline which Tazhayakov believed had been used to “make the bombs.”
  • Once back at their own apartment, Phillipos told investigators that the three of them “started to freak out, because it became clear from a CNN report that we were watching that Jahar (a nickname for Tsarnaev) was one of the Boston Marathon bombers.” Later that night, one of the men threw the backpack and laptop in the trash.
  • Law enforcement was able to recover the bag from a landfill. The trash bag was recovered by law enforcement on April 26. It contained a backpack with fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and some college homework for a class Tsarnaev was taking.

The three men are schedule to appear before a federal judge in Boston at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, attorneys for Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov came before the media in Boston to say that their clients were horrified by the bombings and did not intentionally do anything to assist Tsarnaev. They said they plan to contest the charges.

Here is the complaint: