The legal team of accused Boston Bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev asked federal prosecutors to turn over a number of FBI documents pertaining to Dzokhar and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev on Friday. The defense team seeks to show that the elder Tamerlan was the “main instigator” behind the attacks.
Dzokhar’s lawyers argued that the prosecution’s decision to either execute Dzokhar or send him to life in prison "could well turn on how it apportions the brothers' relative responsibility for conceiving and carrying out the attacks, and on the extent to which it views Tamerlan Tsarnaev as having induced or coerced his younger brother to help commit them."
Among the notable findings in the defense team’s 23-page filing is the claim that the FBI, aware of Tamerlan’s extremist views, tried in the past to convince him to become an informant.
“The FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor, Zubeidat [Dzhokhar and Tamerlan’s parents] and Tamerlan,” the filing states. “[They] questioned Tamerlan about his internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community.”
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The defense claims this “shows Tamerlan to have had a substantially longer and deeper engagement than his younger brother with extremist and violent ideology [and] is mitigating for the light that it sheds on their relative culpability.”
The FBI denies ever recruiting either brother to work as an informant for the agency. A 2013 FBI statement released after the Tsarnaev’s were identified as suspects in the bombing said the “brothers were never sources for the FBI nor did the FBI attempt to recruit them as sources.”
Dzokhar Tsarnarev, 20, is being held in a federal detention center in Ayer, Massachusetts about 40 miles outside of Boston. He is facing 30 charges for his role in the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, including using a weapon of mass destruction. That charge, along with several others leveled against him, is punishable by death.