With one suspect in custody and another killed, President Obama announced the end of a five-day manhunt for the perpetrators of the Boston bombings Friday. But he pledged a swift search for motive and more information on the two brothers suspected of carrying out the attack that left three dead and more than 170 injured.
“We’ve closed an important chapter in this tragedy,” Obama said in the White House briefing room late Friday. But, he said, “tonight, there are still many unanswered questions. Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks and did they receive any help?” the president asked.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was taken into custody, is undergoing treatment at a Boston hospital. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chechen ethnicity. His 26 year old brother and suspected accomplice Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed early Friday in a standoff with police. While no motive is known for the Boston attack, Chechnya has experienced a violent past with Russia, driving fringe groups to align with Islamic extremist groups with anti-U.S. agendas.
“The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers. The wounded…deserve answers,” Obama said, reflecting on the victims of Monday’s marathon bombing, as well as the M.I.T. police officer killed in his patrol car Thursday night.
“Whatever agenda drove these men to commit such heinous acts cannot and will not prevail. We will not waiver from the character, the compassion and the values that define us as a country.”
As the investigation continues to delve into the lives of the brothers and their family, Obama authorities would “investigate any associations these terrorists may have had.” He also warned Americans “not to rush to judgment, not about motivations or individuals, and certainly not about entire groups of people.”
Obama was briefed on the developments that brought the manhunt to a conclusion in Watertown, Mass., by FBI Director Robert Mueller, whose Hostage Rescue Team worked with local authorities on-scene to apprehend the suspect alive.
The president spent the day between Oval Office briefings and meetings in the White House situation room with his top national security advisers, while residents of the suburban Massachusetts town were asked to stay indoors as the manhunt ensued. He spoke with Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino after being briefed at 4 p.m. EST Friday in the Oval Office by White House by Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco.
“The president said that the entire country is behind the people of Boston as well as Massachusetts, and that the full force of the federal government will continue to be made available until those responsible are brought to justice,” according to the official.
At 9:45 Friday morning, the president assembled his senior aides including Monaco, Vice President Biden, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in the White House Situation Room. That meeting lasted about an hour. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State John Kerry and CIA Director John Brennan joined by videoconference.
Obama also spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday. The Russian leader “expressed his condolences on behalf of the Russian people for the tragic loss of life” in Monday’s marathon bombing, according to the White House press office. Obama reportedly thanked Putin and “praised the close cooperation” between the two counties on counter terrorism efforts in the wake of the attack. Under Putin, Russia engaged in a bloody crackdown in Chechnya, home to a large ethnic Muslim majority.