The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says evidence suggests the two brothers accused of the Boston bombings had help planning the attack — and he says he has concerns about a possible “wider conspiracy” stretching overseas.
U.S. officials investigating the bombings have told The Associated Press that so far there is no evidence of a wider plot.
But Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, told “Fox News Sunday” that the “level of sophistication” of the two improvised bombs made from pressure cookers that killed three and injured more than 260 “leads me to believe there was a trainer.”
He added that pressure cooker-bombs are a “signature device” used in the al Qaeda hotbeds of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“The question is, where is that trainer or trainers? Are they overseas in the Chechen region or are they in the United States?” Mr. McCaul said. “In my conversations with the FBI, that’s the big question.”
The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who legally came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents.
Mr. McCaul says U.S. officials are casting a “wide net” worldwide to find anyone responsible for aiding the suspects. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in custody, charged with setting off the bombs April 15 with his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police during the manhunt for the two.
The lawmaker also said he believes the suspects’ mother played a “very strong role” in the radicalization of Tamerlan and said he believes she is “a person of interest, if not a subject.” He said if she comes to the U.S., she likely will be detained by authorities for questioning.
Mr. McCaul criticized some in the Obama administration for an initial rush to judgment that the brothers didn’t have foreign help.
“Right out of the box, U.S. officials anonymously are saying there is no foreign connection to this case when in fact the FBI just began its investigation into this case,” he said. “And yet the narrative played out by some in the administration is that, no, there’s no foreign connection.
“I reserve judgment until all the evidence comes in,” he said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he is “absolutely” convinced the accused bombers had help.
“In every case that we have seen that has led to somebody taking an event to try to commit an act of violence, there was outside … affirmation of their intent to commit an act of jihad,” Mr. Rogers told ABC’s “This Week.”
The lawmaker said he believes the assistance the brothers received came from within the U.S.
But Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that, “There is no evidence at this point that these two were part of a larger organization.”