The Chechen immigrant brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon were devout Muslims who appeared to become more radicalized in recent months — posting Islamic ‘jihad’ videos on social-media sites and following the preachings of a firebrand cleric.
But the men’s motive for Monday’s massacre — which killed three and maimed more than 170 others — remained a mystery as the younger brother, college student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken into custody last night.
He was captured after a nearly two-hour standoff and shootout with cops after he hid out in a boat stored in a back yard in Watertown, a Boston suburb.
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was fatally shot yesterday morning after cops said the pair executed an MIT campus cop, carjacked a man in his Mercedes SUV, then fired assault rifles and lobbed pipe bombs and a grenade at pursuing police.
Dzhokhar escaped on foot after running over his mortally wounded brother with an SUV — triggering an unprecedented lockdown of Boston and its surrounding suburbs.
Among yesterday’s rapid developments:
* Three people were taken into custody in New Bedford ‘on the assumption there is an affiliation with suspect Number 2,’ said Lt. Robert Richard of the New Bedford Police.
Dozens of cops swarmed the neighborhood, detaining two young men and a woman, and evacuating neighboring apartments, witnesses said.
* Authorities found multiple assembled pipe bombs in the brothers’ Cambridge apartment, where investigators planned to carry out a ‘controlled explosion’ to make the residence safe to enter.
They also found other explosives linked to the brothers elsewhere, including unexploded pipe bombs along the chase route.
* It emerged that the FBI had interviewed Tamerlan about his ‘extremist views,’ but then closed the case.
Tamerlan was interviewed by the FBI in 2009 after authorities in Russia said he was a ‘radical,’ according to sources. When G-men asked Tamerlan whether he was a radical, he replied ‘no,’ a source said.
* Their father, Anzor, was interviewed by the FBI in 2001 for taking pictures of the Manhattan skyline after the 9/11 attacks.
* Their mother, Zubeidat, speaking from their native Russia, said, ‘My sons would never do this. It is a set-up’ — and bizarrely claimed that Tamerlan ‘was controlled by the FBI . . . for three to five years.’
* The brothers’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni, speaking on TV, called both the men ‘losers’ of whom he was ‘ashamed,’ and urged, ‘Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness.’
Tsarni said the brothers struggled to adjust to American life during their decade living here, but ended up ‘just hating everyone.’
* Authorities searched the West New York, NJ, apartment of one of the suspects’ sisters.
* The Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins postponed their games to keep people off the street as the search for Dzhokhar continued.
The events capped a dramatic week that began when two homemade bombs exploded seconds apart — about 100 yards from each other — near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
The explosions’ three fatalities included an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard. Multiple people lost limbs in the blast, including two brothers who each lost a leg.
For three days, authorities scrambled to discover who had planted and ignited the two bombs — and sifted through thousands of videos and photos they obtained from surveillance cameras and private individuals’ snapshots and smartphones.
On Thursday afternoon, the FBI for the first time released video and still images of two unidentified men, both wearing baseball caps and walking swiftly with backpacks toward the locations where the bombs were left.
An image showed the man who had been wearing a white baseball hat backward walking calmly away after the explosions — without his backpack.
That man was later identified as Dzhohkar, and his black-hat-wearing companion as his brother, Tamerlan.
He was seen leaving the scene as panicked spectators scrambled from the smoke-filled scene on Boylston Street.
Hours after their images went viral on the Internet — setting off a flurry of tips to authorities — police said the brothers began their rampage by killing MIT campus cop Sean Collier and carjacking an unidentified man who the took them to multiple ATMs to get money from his account.
‘Tell the police that we did the bombing,’ the brothers told that man, according to a source.
The running firefight the AK-47-toting brothers started in suburban Watertown with cops stunned residents who cowered in their houses. In addition to firing, the brothers flung homemade bombs at the cops.
The brothers’ father echoed his wife when he spoke to reporters from the Russian republic of Dagestan, saying that his sons were ‘set up — they were set up!’
‘They killed my older son, Tamerlan,’ Anzor said.
And he called Dzhohkar ‘a true angel.’
But Boston Police Commissioner Ed David had something much different to say about Dzhohkar yesterday.
‘We believe this man to be a terrorist,’ David said. ‘We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people.’