tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC April 19, 2013 9:00am-10:00am PDT
leave their homes. we cannot emphasize this enough -- this is a fluid situation. here is what we know about the suspects at present. dzhokah tsarnaev was born in kyrgyzstan, he came to the united states with his older brother, tamerlan a decade ago. the two lived together in cambridge, the suspect who was killed in a shutout this morning, tamerlan is a tsarnaev was 26. in 2007 he became a legal resident in america, he was a student at bunker hill community college and competitive boxer. this violent and drautic series of events was not set off by police, but by the suspects themselves, who were apparently trying to escape law enforcement. here's how it played out. around 10:00 p.m. last night, the suspects robbed a store. they then proceeded to fatally shoot an m.i.t. security officer and hijack a mercedes suv. the owner of that vehicle was held hostage for half an hour while the two brothers pulled $800 out of an atm. they released the owner of the mercedes unharmed.
police chased the suspects into watertown, where this shootout took place. the suspects exchanged fire with police and threw explosives towards them. at one point, tamerlan sarn ev got out of the car wearing an ied strapped to his chest and was shot by police. his body was run over by dzhokah tsarnaev as he fled the scene. at present the manhunt continues. the police are looking for a younger brother and a possible accomplice. let's bring in nbc justice correspondent, pete williams. this is a quickly developing situation. how many people are the police looking for right now? >> i think they're not sure. i think we can say probably three. dzhokah tsarnaev, the person who is the man with the white hat and the marathon bombing on monday. for sure. and then possibly as many as two others. people that are described to us
as possible accomplices. the authorities think that they may be in the area. that's one of the reasons for this extraordinary request that all boston residents stay home and off the streets. leaving the city looking pretty much like the day the earth stood still. and they also found a bomb this morning in boston. that was safely disposed of. so you put those factors together, and that is the explanation we're told for why this extraordinary security regime in which people not only in watertown, where they think that satsarnaev is still holed somewhere, possibly where everybody has been gathering and also in the boston area, shutting down the mass transit system for many, many miles outside of boston. so it's, it was a fast-moving situation until about an hour ago. or an hour and a half ago. when not much has been happening because of this essence standoff
at this house and the search that is still going on in boston, with federal and state officials trying to find what they believe are two associates. now why they believe they are associates, we don't know. it could be a number of factors. it could be phone numbers that they found on the cell phone of dzhokah tsarnaev's brother who was killed this morning in the encounter with police in watertown. it could be things found in the house this could be additional intelligence they've generated from other sources, that is their belief. and out of an abundance of caution, that's why they're handling the situation the way they are. >> pete, take us through the sh shoot-out, because i think there's some confusion as to how dzhokhar got away. how did he manage to escape that situation? do we have any intelligence on that? >> he pushed the accelerator to the floor and just floored it and -- >> he was in a vehicle at that point? >> yes, yes.
remember, that they had carjacked a car. and drove from cambridge, roughly four miles or so to watertown. and that's when they were encountered by police who had been chasing them, as according to police, the two men were throwing explosives out of the car at the police who were following them. they got stopped in watertown. the older man, tamerlan got out of the car. and with what authorities say appeared to be explosives strapped to his chest. he was shot by police. and then his brother, who was still in the car, simply pressed the accelerator to the floor and took off. and then at some point abandoned the car. there's some indication that he might have been wounded in that encounter with police. they can't be sure. because they don't know where he is. but they've seen some blood that indicates that maybe he was wounded. >> pete, i know we're going to have to let you go. but really quickly, they did carjack a mercedes suv at one point. and revealed themselves to be
the two men behind the marathon bombing. do we know anything about the owner of that suv who was later released unharmed after spending half an hour with the two brothers? >> we do. we know who he is, we've decided not to name him since he's an innocent victim in all of this. but yes, he was just someone who happened to be driving around, unlucky to be in the place where they decided to do the carjacking. but you're right, authorities have said during the carjacking they told him they had just shot and killed a campus policeman in cambridge and they were the boston marathon bombers. >> pete williams, nbc news justice correspondent, thank you very much. we're going to bring in now senior executive producer for nbc's investigative unit, richard esposito. a fluid and changing situation. it sounds as if dzhokah tsarnaev may be holed up in a house. how do investigators handle this at this point? his uncle was out in public making a statement saying his father told abc news that he thought his son should
surrender. what are the negotiations like in this situation? >> as pete said, it had been fluid and fast-moving and now it's slowed down. and slowing it down is what you do when you're going to negotiate with somebody. they'll try to find pressure points, they'll talk to his relatives, find his associates. they'll look to see what is it that we can use as leverage to get him to surrender. to not blow himself up. to not blow the house up. to not use police as a means of suicide. so they'll look for all of those methods of reaching him. and trying to bring him out alive. whatever, whatever it is that they can get inside his head. and the negotiators are phenomenally good at trying to figure out what will work and get them to have someone talk to them rather than take action against them or themselves. >> richard, we know that his brother was wearing an ied strapped to his chest. when he was killed during the shoot-out. that must change sort of the
contours of those negotiations. because certainly there's the concern that he can do harm to others, but quite clearly, there are indications that at least one of the brothers was ready to do harm to himself. >> i think no sooner did they learn that one brother was wearing an i'ed, this in the wae of the attack on the marathon. where they were clearly willing to kill and maim many, many people. they acted on the assumption that the other brother would also be perhaps wearing a suicide vest or carrying an ied. so it changes your approach to someone. you stop, you take a step back. you say -- what are the protocols? the active shooter protocols that you would use? how do you manage a bomber like this? if they're going to attack, what makes the decision to shoot the person. versus talk to the person. they have a whole set of practice strategy force dealing with this. and that's what they would come into play. >> richard esposito, nbc news
investigative producer, thanks for your time. i want to bring in msnbc contributor mike barnicle joining us on the phone. the whole city of boston shut down. this is never before seen really in terms of an american crisis. what is it like up there? give us a sense of what, how bostonians are taking this. >> well, people are obeying the, everything they here on the radio and on the tv. i'm going to tell that. streets are pretty much abandoned. hardly any vehicular traffic. watertown itself. watertown, massachusetts, by cambridge, massachusetts, is completely shut down. no vehicular traffic in or out. the entire town has been cordoned off. as well as the surrounding towns of belmont, waltham and the brighton neighborhood in boston and now the entire city of boston has been urged to stay in place. the prior -- conversation with pete williams was especially
interesting. here's a little more of what we know. pete reported on part of this earlier. the 7-eleven robbery takes place a few blocks on the north street and cambridge where the two brothers lived. robbed the 7-eleven. they then shoot the m.i.t. campus police officer, who is in his car. the reasoning we're told is he, they probably thought that the police officer recognized them from their photographs being published everywhere and up on the tv screens everywhere and hours earlier by the fbi in the afternoon. they carjack an individual who is driving a mercedes suv. authorities know who the individual is. the news media know who the individual is. we know his name. we're not going to report his name, obviously. he has been fully debriefed. and is really part of a really interesting equation to this whole awful, awful story. in that they hijacked the car.
they take his credit card. and they make three different attempts with his credit card to withdraw money from atm machines. the first one failed because they put in the wrong p.i.n. number. the second one, they managed to withdraw $800 in cash. they make a third attempt, and it's rejected because the cardholder, the person whose car was hijacked by them, that exceeds his daily limit of getting money from an atm. they then drop that person off unharmed after telling him that they are the marathon day bombers and then they proceed to get into the firefight with police. >> i think your focus on that character is, i mean i thought the same thing, mike. in so far as these guys are on a killing spree, and for half an hour, they spend time with someone, an innocent, a bystander effectively and leave him unharmed after admitting to their crimes. which is i mean certainly that
person, whoever he or she may be, is going to have a very interesting perspective on them and their sort of mentality at this particular moment. >> well, you know, there's always, there's always really interesting aspects at the edge of every homicide, whether it's a multiple terror homicide. as this one was. or an individual homicide. there's always something very interesting at the edge of it. and it has to do with the individual who commits the act. and in this case, allegedly two individuals, perhaps some assistance from others that we don't know. and the interesting aspect is, and you can see it now in the reporting of our people who went to high school with the younger of the two brothers. reporting they liked him, he seemed very normal. he seemed like a nice guy, yadda yadda, so you have clearly a couple of different things going on internally within these two people, who one of whom is dead and the other is on the run. >> msnbc contributor, mike
barnicle, thanks for your thoughts. joining us now is former deputy of counterterrorism on the national security council, nbc news terrorism analyst roger cressey. roger, let's talk a little bit about sort of how this all came to be. i mean yesterday, i think the entire post monday, the entire investigation got a sort of huge bump up if you will when the fbi held their news conference and revealed at least the identities, if not the names more biographical information, the faces of those suspects in this bombing. i thought it was really interesting that that we got that tape that was apparently taken from lord and taylor. we also have gotten reports about bystanders who may have been critical in, in actually helping pinpoint who did this.
>> there's firsthand eye witness accounts, coming from people 40 were in the hospital, who in all likelihood have helped the fbi with this investigation. >> yeah, alex. it really is remarkable. the speed with which this is, has gone since the fbi press conference. and special agent in charge, deslauriers said repeatedly, somebody knows these individuals, family, friends, acquaintances, workers, colleagues. and the bureau's strategy at that point yesterday afternoon was to bring all of us into this process. to have them help law enforcement with visual identification. and based on what we know so far, and man this is one incomplete picture, but based on what we know so far, either their faces in the media triggered them to move and begin this next rampage. or there were other who is contributed information to law enforcement and allowed them to help to move it in the right direction. as pete has reported, there was no reason to believe fbi and law
enforcement were moving in on these individuals it sounds like they decided to move on their own. so it had, it had an effect in accelerating the process. tragically, we've seen one other person killed. but there's no doubt now, alex, that these individuals were planning to do additional attacks. just by the virtue of what they have on them, and what they were planting in terms of bombs. >> roger, you know we know we're looking for dzhokah tsarnaev. there's talk of possible accomplices. because of course, these two men were suspected, they were suspected of at least dropping off the bombs and maybe there's some video footage of them actually placing the bags at the bomb sites. it is unclear whether they actually made the bombs. and there were, there are certainly a lot of bombs. they had more at the standoff, there are rumored to be more at the house where they were residing. that may speak to possibly a cell. >> well, i think the question, alex, is there a broader conspiracy. and by that, are there other
individuals who either wittingly or unwittingly assisted the tsarnaev brothers in this rampage. and that's what law enforcement is going to determine. there could be individuals who knew them, knew of them but had no reason to believe that they were going to do anything violent. those are some of the most pressing questions right now. so i mean there's three categories here -- the first is bring tsarnaev to justice, hopefully alive. identify any additional packages that could be ieds in the greater boston area. and then third, identify any individuals, other potential suspects or people of interest they just want to question. to understand what the broader conspiracy might have been. >> nbc news terrorism analyst, roger cressey. thanks for your time. i want to bring in nbc's michael isikoff. who is with us in watertown. michael, we were seeing some helicopter activity in the skies over there. we know that there is a no-fly zone over much of boston. the city is on lockdown. can you give us an update?
>> exactly, alex. for about the last 15 minutes we've had military style helicopters circling above us here. this is where we are is right by the staging area where convoys of military vehicles, buses of police, and state police have been gathering all morning. it appeared some hours ago that there was, that they were planning this staging for possible confrontation or assault. >> in the last 15 minutes, suddenly we're seeing all of these choppers flying by us, landing right over there behind us. and then some have been taking off. what this symbolizes, what this means at this point is not clear. zbld tamer lan 25
. >> i see a, state troopers with weapons coming over here, they're about to do a sweep of the entire area. >> watertown massachusetts with the very latest where the level of activity is -- >> there's also supposed to be a briefing here. to give us an update. so as i said, for a while, things have been quiet here now, military activity seems to be stepping up. >> we'll come back to you shortly. but i want to bring in nbc's katie tour from the scene in watertown. we were just talking with michael isikoff. military helicopters in the sky, a no-fly zone over boston, the city on lockdown. testament to the gravity and volatility of the situation. just how seriously officials are taking this. and perhaps a possibility that the two brothers or their accomplices, if there are
accomplices, may have planted bombs elsewhere in the area. we were getting an update an hour or two ago that u-mass amhurst was being evacuated, can you give us more on that? >> it's still a very fluid situation, the whole city is on lockdown. the whole city is on alert. they're not quite sure what is out there right now. i can tell you that we have seen a police helicopter here for the past few hours. these military helicopters, two of them came and have been circling. they got here in just the past few minutes. i want to give you an idea of where i am. i'm a few blocks from where michael isikoff is, and a few blocks from where kerry sanders is. right down the street and to the left is where the shootout between the two suspects and police happened very early this morning. now we know that tamerlan tsarnaev was shot and killed. and when police approached him he was wearing an improvised explosive device on his body. his brother, dzhokhar fled the scene.
and they're worried that he may be wearing something similar. we are not quite sure what's happening in watertown right now. but i can tell you the scene has been very fluid. it's quieted down. it picks back up. the cars have been coming in and out of here pret te steadily for the past few hours. >> nbc katy tour from watertown, massachusetts. with us on the phone is former congressman, barney frank. i can't imagine the emotions you must be feeling. you've represented the state of massachusetts for 32 years. seeing one of america's major cities, one of your, your city of boston, shut down like this -- tell us what's going through your head. >> well, i have admiration first of all for law enforcement. given the terrible acts that happened on monday. >> i think most people were not expecting on monday when we first experienced these murders,
that there would be such rapid progress in catching the vicious criminal who is did it. and i give credit to law enforcement. it's been a massive, labor intensive approach. secondly, i think the people in the city, not just city of boston, but the greater boston region, some of the surrounding communities, are showing an unsurprising degree of maturity. but you know, this does -- it illustrates that the level of law enforcement -- some people say how come they couldn't have stopped this. they knew the marathon was this big of an event. and the answer is no the american people aren't going to accept in advance a lot of restriction and regimentation and this is one of the problems of a free society. vicious thugs like this in effect get the first punch. there's really no way you can, in a free society, physically do everything that you might think
of to stop it. the question is, how effectively can you respond when it happens? although you're obviously trying to do intelligence to prevent it. it does look like these two people, and there may be others, there wasn't any way to have intercepted them. but i do think now that the law enforcement is doing the right thing. and i think the people of the city are now after the fact, understandably ready to accept that degree of restriction, regimentation in the interests of catching them. >> congressman, how do you think that the community sort of begins to wrap its head around this, in so far as dzhokhar and tamerlan tsarnaev were part of the communities in which they lived. one was a wrestler, one was a boxer. >> can you state it a little louder, please? >> i was saying how does the community begin to wrap its head around what has happened. given the fact that two of the suspects, dzhokah tsarnaev and his brother, tamerlan tsarnaev,
were very much part of the community in which they grew up. they went to local schools. one was competitive boxer, one was a wrestler. by all accounts they were you know, dzhokhar tsarnaev was seen as a nice guy, a shy guy in his high school. but liked. not an outcast by any means. you know how does a community begin to think of, begin to process something like this? >> well, it is what it is. you know people weren't, the fact that they are among us, humanity, some people who are, who are vicious and violent and morally deformed, we're aware of this. look at the people in texas are now experiencing the fact that you know, two prosecutors were murdered by a home-grown texan. people don't often, don't always -- i guess how do you process it? by understanding the reality that first of all there are
going to be some people among us who are vicious criminals. that in a free society, there is this problem. because we do not want to give up our freedom in anticipation of this. and therefore -- as i said, they get a chance to take the first, the first shots, what we need to be able to do is to be able to respond effectively. i don't think it's going to leave people in the greater boston area to start becoming more suspicious of each other. the fact that there are among us, a few terribly morally deformed people, sadly is not new. >> a lot of the great ej dionne has written great things about boston, his town. the strength of the city, the toughness. >> you've got to speak louder. >> the great "washington post" columnist, ej dionne has written a lot in recent days about boston, the toughness of the town, the fairness of the town.
the code of honor among its residents. and the president was in the interfaith service yesterday and said to the town -- you will run again. i want to know what you thought of his remarks yesterday. in terms of getting a city back up on its feet? >> oh, i don't think this is, t is a terrible thing and people were murdered. one moment enjoying this great moment of happiness, suddenly they were wounded and people were dead. of course it was terrible. i'll be honest, i never doubted that the city was going to continue. new york city experienced a far greater tragedy. it doesn't excuse the murders here. human beings go forward. they deal with it i think people are going to want to first of all, i think they should take some comfort as i said from the efficiency of law enforcement. had these people not been caught, had we had to live with the fear that they were still around, still among us, that would have been worse.
>> i think for the next period of months, maybe year or so, there will be some greater surveillance and restriction because there are sometimes copycats, others inspired by this but i never doubted for a minute when i first heard the terrible news that the city will go on. people as i said, have the capacity to to continue and take some reassurance, as i said, from the speed with which these murderers were caught. or one caught and i'm pretty confident that the other one is either going to be caught or perhaps show up dead by his own hand. which wouldn't trouble me in the least. >> former congressman, barney frank, thank you for your thoughts, congressman. our prayers and thoughts are of course with all the residents of boston and the area. sand the family members of victims, thanks for your time. let's bring in retired atf special agent in charge, nbc news analyst jim cavanaugh.
jim, it's, it's a changing situation. but certainly it is a dramatic scene. it almost looks like a war zone, streets empty, we don't know how many officers are on the scene. but the tension seems to be remarkably high. there's some thought that perhaps dzhokah tsarnaev is holed up and is being negotiated with at this point. >> alex, that's exactly right. you know when you're in command of a situation like this, i always like to break it down to the main things that handle the main crisis points and address those. and there's three interlocking rings here that are affecting boston and the citizens. and that's what the commanders have got to focus on. one is the standoff with dzhokhar, we can talk about how that interlocks and what's going on there. the second is, the placement of another pressure cooker device in the city that they've located. and the question of are there more. and then the third interlocking circle is, whether or not there's these two accomplices, as pete williams described and
maybe a person on an amtrak train who was an accomplice. these are the three interlocking circles that need to be fixed and addressed by the commanders. dzhokhar has the information, he has critical information. and the way that's going to be received is through the negotiators. they're probably getting it right now and they need to talk with him and find out, did they place any other devices around the city. also, a timeline investigators can put together, did they walk from their house to rob the store that mike barnicle described, and then you know, carjack, walk through the campus and shoot the m.i.t. police officer. carjack the car, try to boil that timeline down to when the pictures of them were released to when they did their armed robbery. because while they were fiddling with the atm card, they may not have been dropping bombs off. the citizen who was carjacked will be able to tell a key issue to the commanders, was dzhokhar
wearing a suicide bomb vest. and you brought that up before, alex. that's critical, because those are hard to put on when you're driving, i'm sure. so you, they probably strapped those on before they left. so did he strap one on as well? >> jim, i got to ask you because you were a former atf hostage negotiator, if, if dzhokhar tsarnaev has access to television or radio or media of any kind, what kind of effect does something like his uncle coming out and saying, you've brought shame on checkens everywhere. you've brought shame on our ethnic minority. his father telling abc news that he should surrender. in terms of the psychology of that and the efficacy of that, moving things one way or the other. can you weigh in on that. >> it's exactly the point of view, going to use you in negotiation training. we would not want him to see that. if he did say that, talk through it and talk over that and get by
it. probably, when we would be doing this, we would have cut that feed early so he wouldn't see that. because suicide follows humiliation. and shame. and so to have a relative on tv who, the gentleman is dispassionate, a good citizen and we understand where he's coming from, clearly. but to have the barricaded bomber here, you know you've shame, humiliation, you're a loser, those are things i would not want him to hear. if he did hear it, we would talk him through it. you know, we negotiated with a guy, had a bomb on his chest one time, barricaded and it took us eight hours to talk with him before he would take the bomb off his chest and put it on the kitchen table. that didn't settle the barricade, but we get one step at a time. you know, will you take the bomb off your chest and talk to us some more. so you know, i would want to know from the citizen who was carjacked, did he know there was a bomb on his chest.
that's an important point. if he's there, he's not leaving. and can we glean from him how many devices were placed in the city, anything about the accomplice accomplices and from the amtrak information or accomplice information, can we glean other information, to make the city safe. i think it will transpire through the day.
>> anybody. unless you're identified. a public safety official. for the next few hours, what we're continue to gather information as to the public safety job. our job is to make sure public safety is as best we can. we'll keep the public informed as we get the information. so be patient. i'm going to say as the mayor of the city of boston we have one city, we're a city that's a community. we're not going to let terrorists win over. we're going to continue to work hard. we're going to get through this. we're going to be a strenonger city as we move forward. thank you very much. . >> that was mayor of boston, tom me neen no and governor of massachusetts deval patrick. with us former fbi profiler clint van zandt. the governor said among other
things he thanked the community for their -- for their staying calm and heeding law enforcement advice and they also mentioned -- sorry. going back to the press conference. let's take a listen. >> we're obviously way behind. it's indicative of the leads we continue to run down here and things change, they change quickly and sometimes we have to change direction. i want to begin by saying we are progressing through this neighborhood, going door to door, street to street. well over 60 or 70% of what we want to cover up there. we do not have any development to tell you in terms of that search up there. there has been no apprehension at this point. the second thing i want to talk about briefly is this afternoon, there will be a controlled explosion, if you will, by some of the explosive ordinance folks
in cambridge at a house we have secured earlier today. it's done out of an abundance of caution. it's done for the safety of the law enforcement officials that are over there before they proceed with a search of that premises. so that will be happening this afternoon as well. our plan at this point is we are going to continue with following up in that neighborhood. we have several other new leads that just developed within the last few minutes and working on that. and i will be back here, i hope, within an hour or slightly above that, to give you the next briefing. should we have any development between now and then i'll be back even sooner. i want to turn it over to chief devo, police from watertown. >> thank you, colonel. i want to thank the media for getting the word out. there's been a lot of heroic actions as you hear about the next few days, what you heard about last night and the last couple days as everybody knows. i want to also speaks to the
watertown community. you've done great. we've done everything we've asked. we need some more time. we have to stay in your homes, stay in place. we as the colonel said, we still have some work to do even after we clear the area. there's a major crime scene down there that's going to take time. i've been assured to all the gentlemen behind me they're not going to leave until the town is safe. it may go today, tomorrow and over the weekend, before we have that whole crime scene under control. but watertown community has always stood strong and i've asked them to do that this morning and they've done terrific. i want to thank them. thank you. >> thank you, folks. >> thank you. >> that was the latest from boston and watertown. governor duval patrick urging bostonian and those in the area saying stay in your homes. the headline out of that news conference there will be controlled explosions taking place on norfolk street and chief devo of watertown, saying
this crime scene, the presence of law enforcement officials may go through the weekend. with us former fbi profiler and nbc news analyst, clint van zandt. the controlled explosion and the caution from governor patrick to stay in your homes, would certainly seem to suggest that -- well there may be bombs planted elsewhere in the city, that they are trying to secure the area as much as they can, but there are certainly still some unknowns. >> yeah. it seems like they've told us a couple of things or haven't told us a couple things. number one, what was missing from that press conference that we all hoped to hear was that we have subject number two barricaded in a house, the house is surrounded and we're conducting negotiations. we didn't hear that. that doesn't mean it's not taking place. but the state police commander colonel indicated they searched about 60% of the houses. does that mean they searched it for the subject and haven't found him yet? they've searched it for explosive devices. there's a lot of conjecture
that's open right there. but with this talk about the explosive devices, when they say controlled, what it may be, for example, is that they may have a residence that they have linked to one or both of these subjects where they fear potentially there's a booby-trap there. if so, a decision may have been made perhaps to set off a controlled detonation at the door, something such as that, to ensure that there's no trip wires so investigators can get in. so a lot of what was said, there can be different reasons to say that. but what we know for sure at this point, is that law enforcement has not said subject number two is under arrest. >> clint, just to be clear, when they say -- when law enforcement officials say a controlled explosion, that does not necessarily indicate that there is a bomb in the house. but that may be a precautionary measure? >> yeah, very much so. again, it may be that law
enforcement has made a decision that entry is so risky, that for some reason, and jim cavanaugh can obviously state this better -- but there may be a reason to blow that door as opposed to go through -- remember of course, the situation in colorado, the shooting subject at the movie theater, when investigators went to his apartment, it was so wired with explosives, that they had to make an entry into, into that apartment other than the door. because of course the door would have set off those explosions. the booby traps. that could be a fear and that could be a reason why they made a decision to do some type of tactical entry there. >> former fbi profiler an msnbc analyst, clint van zandt. i want to bring in nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker with us live from washington. we know the president was with his top advisers this morning. can you give as you read-out as
to what's going on at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. >> that's right, alex. president obama had a sweeping meeting in the situation room earlier today for about an hour with his entire national security team. updated and briefed on the evolving situation in boston. i can tell you that the white house is being very careful and very cautious in its reactions. because this is a developing story. i can also tell you that as of this hour, secretary john kerry, defense secretary chuck hagel and c.i.a. director john brennan are here for a previously scheduled meeting with the national security adviser. that is under way right now. that doesn't involve the president. will they discuss boston? that is certainly a high possibility giving the evolving events of the day. president obama has been briefed regularly throughout the day. and overnight. as the situation was developing. of course we have heard from the president, multiple times this week on monday. again on tuesday, we heard from him at that interfaith service yesterday in boston.
will we hear from him again today? we don't know at this point. the white house doesn't have anything on his schedule to that effect. but he is clearly monitoring the situation quite closely concerned about the developments that are under way in boston. alex? >> thank you, kristen for the update. we certainly will be talking more about the implications here in terms of foreign policy and possibly national security and how the white house responds in the coming days. first before we do that, i want to play some sound from dzhokah tsarnaev's uncle who came and spoke to the press earlier this morning, talking about check nia, the checken identity in the united states, let's play a little of that sound. >> hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. these are the only reasons i can imagine of. anything else, anything else to do with religion, with islam, that's a fraud. it's a fake. >> "the new york times" white house correspondent, peter baker
is with us. peter, thanks for joining us, you were the moscow bureau chief for four years and covered the second chechen war. a lot of folks in america are hearing the word chechnya for the first time and don't understand the dynamics between chechnya, russia and the united states. can you give us a little primer about the sort of tumult in the region? >> it's a good question. we're learning a lot today, a lot of americans haven't focused on what has been chilling situation for many russians for a lot of years in the mid 1990s, chechnya tried to break away from russia as emerging from the soviet union. russian forces went in to try to keep them. two wars ensued, lots of death and terrorism resulted. when i was in moscow, chechen terrorists took over a theater filled with hundreds and hundreds of theatergoers. 130 died. i was in beslan, a small school in southern russia that got taken over by chechen terrorists, hundreds of children and their teachers died.
so for a lot of russians, what we're seeing in the reports from boston, brings back a lot of chilling memories to them. we don't know the connections between these brothers and that conflict. but there is some stuff on the russian website to indicate that there was some interest in the going on back home. even though they had been in the united states for a lot of years. >> peter, i think it's russia's most popular media platform, dzhokah tsarnaev described his world view as islam, according to the "new york times." and when asked to identify the main thing in life, answered career and money, he listed a series of affinity groups related to chechnya and listed a verse from the koran. now that certainly doesn't mean he was a radicalized islamist by any means. but part of the sort of chechen separatism movement would seem more of a dovetailing with islamic jihadism in recent years. can you tell as you little bit about that? >> that was interesting.
because in fact it started off as a classy separatist movement. chechnya never liked being governored by moscow, even back in the 1700s, when czarist troops were exercising control. over the years, particularly the last ten years, it took on more of a religious flavor. it became adopted as a cause in effect by osama bin laden and his al qaeda group. and the flavor of radical islam began to take over what was sort of an independence movement. so you see chechens not just in russia, but you see chechens fighting in afghanistan, in the tribal areas of pakistan and other places around the world. and they've become incorporated into the larger radical islamic movement. >> peter, before we let you go, you know we still don't know the motivations here and i don't want to get ahead of anything. but if this does end up being part of a, you know, if the two brothers do end up being part of a larger network, if there are ties to chechen separatists or
some sort of amalgamation of a jihadist, chechen separatist organization, it complicates things for the president, who has at present a difficult relationship with russia on the whole. give us a sense of what the implications here are for the white house. >> right, well president obama is the third president in a row to feel very uncomfortable with the issue of chechnya. while obviously they abhor terrorism. they've never approved of the brutal russia tactics of going after chechnya. which includes carpet bombing in grosny. there's a possibility it also brings them together. a week ago, president obama's administration put the president of chechnya, accused of human rights abuses, on a secret list of people not allowed to come to the united states that angered the kremlin. it angered vladimir putin, his
ally. now they have in some ways, a common enemy if there's a connection at all to the broader chechen radical movement. >> peter baker, white house correspondent for "the new york times," thank you so much for your time. i want to bring in wnbc's jonathan ,bèdienst. we're getting news that terror suspect, tamerlan tsarnaev who was killed in a shootout this morning is reportedly flew in and out of john f. kennedy last year and was out of the country for six months. investigators do not know if tsarnaev received any terror training while he was overseas, but it adds another piece to this evolving puzzle. >> that's the question they want to ask, what he was he doing overseize, he does have relatives in russia and he flew in and out of the country, back to kennedy airport, he flew out of new york on january 12th, 2012. and records indicate he returned on july 17th, 2012. and now they want to figure out
that gap in time. was it just a family trip or did he go for any sort of terror training. and that is one aspect of the investigation. his brother, as well, there are some documents as well about what he entered the country. he entered as a young man. with his family and they applied for asylum and it was received. and on the older brother's documents here, it suggests that he became a naturalized u.s. citizen on 9/11, 2012. just to show you how recent it appeared that investigators learned of these suspects and their possible involvement with terrorism or suspected involvement with the terror plot on the marathon, on the younger brother, the white-hatted suspect who is still on the loose -- >> dzhokah tsarnaev. >> documents say he is a known or suspected terrorist and their
associates, facilitators or family members, put on at 6:29 this morning on his travel documents. on the older brother, a person or instrument that may pose a threat to the security of the united states. also posted, 4:19, at 6:29 this morning. >> i want to go now to nbc's michael isikoff. with us from watertown. michael, it's obviously things are moving very quickly here. can you give us a little bit of a sense of what's going on on the ground in watertown? we know that in the press conference just held, we were told there was going to be a controlled explosion at a house in the area. governor patrick urging everybody to stay inside. and the watertown police chief saying this could go on through the weekend. the standoff, the situation, this lockdown. exactly. they also said there have been potential significant new leads in just the last few minutes.
an indication again of how fluid and rapid this is. we've also mentioned before, these military helicopters that are actually blackhawk helicopters that had been flying around, about less than an hour or so ago. we haven't seen them lately. but they have been here, they landed and then appeared to take off. if i could just pick up on a few of what jonathan just was talking about, these travel documents, because they are pretty interesting. they're additional clues that we're getting here. for one thing, there's a pretty good indication, the fact that tamerlan tsarnaev was able to fly out of the country for six months last year. leave and enter over a six-month period. a pretty good indication he was not on any terror wash list, he was not on the radar screen of u.s. counterterrorism authorities. he appears to have been put on them early this morning. but you put that together with
the comments made by the uncle. i know you played some of them a little earlier. there was also a another comment that the uncle made when he was talking to reporters today. saying somebody radicalized them. and that is consistent with a pattern we've seen over and over again, of, of young men, going overseas and getting radicalized by islamic groups. now again, i come back to the point i, some of the information we picked up earlier, about the youtube account and tamerlan tsarnaev's name. we haven't verified that yet. but there's a lot of extremist islamic videos on that youtube account. so all of this of pieces of a puzzle. we haven't put it together yet. but they are pointing in the direction of islamic jihadis, that that's what, that was the
motivation for what took place. >> and of course, we want to be very cautious about characterizing it one way or the other. but michael does bring up some salient information here. i want to bring in now nbc news chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. richard, we were talking earlier today about the link between chechen rebels and al qaeda. i'll read an excerpt from the council on foreign relations, they talk about the newer size between al qaeda and chechen groups, chechen militants fought alongside al qaeda and taliban forces reportedly and the u.s.-backed northern alliance in late 2001 and the taliban regime in afghanistan was one of the only governments to recognize chechen independence, osama bin laden backed chechen rebels in the 1990s during their civil wars with the russians. tell us more about the interlinkage and the rat calization of that part of the world. >> it's not just chechnya, there's also a region called babistan. these are areas that long wanted independence. when you had the soviet union
collapse. some of the former soviet republic gained independence. the muslim areas of chechnya and dagostan didn't get as much independence as they wanted. they regained some degree of aton aautonomy, but not full independence. it started in chechnya, there have been several separatist wars, wars that have been defeated by moscow. some of them have been incredibly brutal. and that has caused a great deal of resentment. people there who believe in the chechen cause, who believe in islamic independence for this republic, are very anti-moscow. they have also turned their attention generally to the west. they feel that they have been abandoned and brutalized while the world has done nothing to help them. that is the general situation in both chechnya and dagostan.
we know that these two individuals are being looked at for possible connections to radicals in both dagostan and chech knee yarks tchechnya islamic union. they don't know if there are any direct linkages, are they just inspired by the uprisings in the caucuses or were they aided to carry out the attacks still unfolding in the united states. blackhawks over massachusetts. >> nbc chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, thank you for your time. nbc's michael isikoff is still in watertown. you bring up a good point to say the brothers, the older brother, tamerlan tsarnaev, was able to enter and exit the u.s. without appearing on any terrorist
watchlist, we heard after the bombing that there was no chatter on the traditional wires back and forth about whether there was an attack planned. a testament to just how out of left field this is in terms of u.s. monitoring u.s. national security. >> exactly. but if you listen to counterterrorism experts for the last several years at all. this is the exact nightmare scenario that they have repeatedly talked about. the radicalized terrorist who stayed below the radar who don't, aren't known or to be affiliated with any group. but are here quietly in the united states, and planning without any indication that they're on the radar screen of u.s. authorities. a that may well be exactly what happened here. let me pick up on some of the points richard was making on the chechnya connection. i remember in the days after
9/11, we all learned about zacharias moussaoui, came into the country before 9/11 and had triggered a lot of concerns. the only case that the fbi had about zacharias moussaoui was that he had been to chechnya. that he had been allied with the chechnya rebel cause. and that turned out to be the actual clue that led to his al qaeda connections. so there's long-standing connections between al qaeda, osama bin laden, his ideology of al qaeda and a large segment of the chechnya rebel movement. and that's been something that's been known for years. so perhaps this shouldn't come as that big of a surprise to, to a lot of people. >> and of course, michael,
tamerlan tsarnaev was the one that went overseas and who knows what happened in that six-month period. his younger brother is of course the one that is still alive. and it remains to be seen whether, if there was radicalization, if that took place, who the catalyst was for the younger brother, whether or not there is you know, a support system, a cell for them in the united states. and whether there are accomplices to all of that. >> exactly. a couple of those points. remember, tamerlan is also the one who had an ied strapped around his body this morning when he was found, when he was found dead. that's the indication he fits the mold of the classic suicide bomber. once again, i would county that as another important clue in pointing out where this was all coming from. you know, look, u.s. counterterrorism authorities were focused for years, last
several years, on, on anwar al alaki as the radicalizer in yemen. all of those cases we saw from a abumatalib. to the fort hood bomber. people thought by killing al alaki, that they were striking a blow. i think there is an indication that there are a lot of others out there capable of inspiring these kind of young men to commit terrorist acts. >> at this point, far more questions than there are answers, nbc news special investigative reporter, michael isikoff. that does it for me. andrea mitchell picks up our coverage now. >> i'm andrea mitchell live in washington. we're following the fast-moving developments in the boston terror attack.