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Slatest PM: How the Tsarnaev Brothers Learned to Make Their Bombs

Photo courtesy of the FBI

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What Dzhokhar’s Saying: Washington Post: “The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, according to U.S. officials familiar with the interviews. … The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization. Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were ‘self-radicalized’ through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.”

Where They Learned How to Make a Bomb: NBC News: “The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon attack has told investigators that he and his brother got instructions on building bombs from an online magazine published by al Qaeda, federal law enforcement officials told NBC News. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that the brothers read the instructions in Inspire, an online, English-language magazine that terror monitoring groups say al Qaeda began publishing in 2010. The magazine has twice included articles on building bombs with kitchen pressure cookers — the method investigators say Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, used in the Boston attack.”

Where They May Have Gotten the Materials: Wall Street Journal: “Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings, bought two large pyrotechnic devices in February from a New Hampshire branch of a national fireworks chain, according to executives at the chain’s parent company. William Weimer, a vice president of Phantom Fireworks, said the elder Mr. Tsarnaev on Feb. 6 purchased two “Lock and Load” reloadable mortar kits at the company’s Seabrook, N.H. store, just over the border from Massachusetts. Each kit contains a tube and 24 shells, he said. Mr. Tsarnaev paid cash for the kits, which cost $199.99 apiece. It wasn’t clear if the powder from these fireworks was used in the bombings. … One federal law-enforcement official briefed on the probe said the government’s working theory was that the powder used in the bombs could have come from high-powered fireworks. The official said there were other possible sources for similar powder and investigators hadn’t drawn any firm conclusions.”

Tamerlan’s Widow Speaks (Through Her Lawyer): “As you know from news reports, Katie married her husband in June of 2010. Since then, she has been living in Cambridge, raising her child and working long hours, caring for people in their homes who are unable to care for themselves. Katie grew up in Rhode Island and has always remained close to her parents and sisters here, as well as her extended family. She is fortunate to have the support of her loving family now, as they, too, struggle to come to terms with these events and the deep sorrow we all feel following the events of last week. Meanwhile, she is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation.The injuries and loss of life - to people who came to celebrate a race and a holiday - has caused profound distress and sorrow to Katie and her family. The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all. As a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, Katie deeply mourns the pain and loss to innocent victims - students, law enforcement, families and our community. In the aftermath of this tragedy, she, her daughter and her family are trying to come to terms with these events.”

Map of the Week: From Wrestling Captain to Terrorism Suspect, a Timeline of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Life

More on the Boston Bombings from Slate

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

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Let’s Not Forget About Syria: New York Times: “Israel’s senior military intelligence analyst said Tuesday there was evidence the Syrian government had repeatedly used chemical weapons in the last month, and he criticized the international community for failing to respond, intensifying pressure on the Obama administration to intervene. … General Brun’s statements … are the most definitive by an Israeli official to date regarding evidence of possible chemical weapons attacks on March 19 near Aleppo and Damascus. Another military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the evidence had been presented to the Obama administration — which has declared the use of chemicals a “red line” that could prompt American action in Syria — but that Washington has not fully accepted the analysis. None of the assertions — by Israel, Britain or France — have been made with physical proof of chemical weapons use.”

Baucus Retiring: National Journal: “Rarely has a senator done so much to prepare for re-election only to, in the end, retire instead. But that’s what happened with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and now Democrats are scrambling to recruit the one candidate who can prevent the Montana Senate seat from falling into Republican hands. Baucus’s sudden retirement on Tuesday is such a surprise because he had worked so diligently to prepare for re-election – one far from assured given Montana’s conservative bent. (As one former campaign hand put it, “Left field? This is out of the bleachers.”) The preparation was most evident in his fundraising: The six-term incumbent raised more than $1.5 million in in the first three months of 2013, a prodigious total for any lawmaker but especially for one in a relatively inexpensive state for TV advertising. He had almost $5 million cash on hand.”

He’s Got Company: Baucus is the sixth Democratic senator to announce his impending retirement during this term, joining Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey in exiting the 2014 race.

Weigel: Max Baucus Retires and Democrats Celebrate, Nervously

What’s Next for Max: Politico Pro: “Baucus’s decision not to seek reelection could give a jolt to efforts to simplify the tax code — an endeavor he can now devote himself to without the nagging concerns of how it will play back home. … But regardless of the new political freedom Baucus will enjoy, he still faces the challenge of convincing fellow Democrats to get behind the effort and to do so the Montanan may have to do some relationship mending. Baucus has recently broken with his party on key issues, including over the Democratic budget plan and a key gun control measure that President Barack Obama publicly pleaded with Democrats to support.”

Revisiting the Sequester: Associated Press: “The top Democrat in the Senate says he’ll press ahead with new legislation to repeal automatic spending cuts that are now beginning to sting. Majority Leader Harry Reid says he wants to use savings from the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan to repeal the cuts, called sequestration. The effects are beginning to ripple through the government and the economy, most visibly with delays in air travel caused by the furloughs of air traffic controllers. The timing of Reid’s effort wasn’t clear and it faces long odds.”

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