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Chaffetz says he's not convinced Boston bombers acted alone

Published: Saturday, April 27 2013 9:51 a.m. MDT

"There are also lots of us that aren't convinced this is just an isolated case. One of the things that concerns me is, right at the very beginning, the officials quickly said, 'Oh this is an isolated case,'" Rep. Jason Chaffetz said of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Friday he's not convinced the "two punks" suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings acted alone and suggested they may be part of a larger terror network.

"I don't think it's necessarily just two kids who watched some YouTube videos and went awry and decided to do this mayhem," the Utah Republican said on C-SPAN. "No, I worry that they were radicalized in a way that others may have also been radicalized."

Chaffetz, a member of the Homeland Security Committee that has already received classified briefings on the case, said he's not alone in questioning whether suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, had help.

"There are also lots of us that aren't convinced this is just an isolated case. One of the things that concerns me is, right at the very beginning, the officials quickly said, 'Oh this is an isolated case,'" Chaffetz said.

The congressman later told the Deseret News, "It would be irresponsible to assume these are the only attacks" and that he believes authorities are pursuing that angle.

"We should be worried this is a bigger, broader plot," Chaffetz said. "This is a highly unusual, yet sophisticated attack. It begs the question of who else may be involved."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly told authorities earlier this week after being captured that he and his brother, killed in a confrontation with police, were operating alone and had received no training or support from outside terrorists groups.

The pair are accused of planting two homemade bombs along that killed three people and wounded more than 260 at the finish line of the April 15 race. Officials have said the brothers also intended to attack New York City's Times Square.

During the half-hour interview on the cable channel's "Washington Journal" program that aired early Friday morning, Chaffetz said he expects Congress to take a closer look at how the investigation into the bombings has been handled.

Congressional hearings could start as soon as next month, Chaffetz said. Still, he said, he's willing to give the authorities involved time "to make sure there aren't other people out there in this same situation" who need to be stopped.

"We're going to need months to let this play out," Chaffetz said. "Let the law enforcement folks do what they need to do now without the pressure of having to prepare some sort of testimony for the Untied States Congress."

He said the concerns raised about the investigation, including whether information was properly shared among agencies in the Obama administration, is "not a partisan thing. We're all rooting for them, cheering them on."

Questions that need to be answered include how the ethnic Chechen brothers from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago were able to construct the bombs and plan the attack, Chaffetz said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly told authorities that his older brother was upset by the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and that anger was the motivation for the bombings.

Email: lisa@deseretnews.com

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