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Tsarnaev's goal was jihad in US, prosecution says in bombing trial
Washington (dpa) - The goal of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was to deliver massive, memorable damage as part of a radical Islamist jihad, prosecutors said Monday during closing arguments in the case. Defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, and his older brother "felt they were ... the mujahideen, and they were bringing their battle to Boston," prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty said. Tsarnaev was an equal conspirator in the plot, the prosecution alleged, citing the long message scrawled by the wounded fugitive inside a boat where he hid before being captured. The message was a coherent and lucid reference to the extremist ideology in which the defendant had been steeped prior to the bombings, Chakravarty argued. Tsarnaev internalized murder as a religiously sanctioned response to US treatment of Muslims and scratched his motivation into the boat, the prosecution said. He acted as a partner to his brother, Tamerlan, who was killed during a shootout with police three days after the bombing of the marathon, Chakravarty said. The brothers communicated about the plans, and both flung bombs at police in Watertown, Massachusetts, during a massive manhunt. "They were a team - that's how they rolled," Chakravarty said. He detailed the carnage inflicted in the double bombings at the marathon and in the ensuing days. Video recorded outside the restaurant where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropped his bag at the marathon finish line showed the Richards family in the moments after the explosion. Father Bill Richard was seen in a frantic dash for his children. His son, 8-year-old Martin, was already lying dead, as his father pulls the other two children away and 6-year-old Jane is unable to stand with only one foot still intact. "These children weren't innocent to him," Chakravarty said. "They were Americans." Tsarnaev's attorney, Judy Clarke, acknowledged the trauma and carnage wrought by her client. "We would never have thought this devastation would touch our lives so directly," she said, launching into a defence that noted Tsarnaev's role in the events of the bombing and ensuing manhunt. "There is no excuse; no one is trying to make one." Clarke sought to reframe Tsarnaev's involvement as that of a loyal, obliging brother, albeit one who fully bought into the extremist beliefs and violent plan of his sibling, who was seven years older. Using the defendant's nickname, she told jurors: "We don't deny that Johar fully participated in the events, but without Tamerlan, it would never have happened." It was Tamerlan, she said, who bought the pressure cookers and other bomb-making supplies. And it was Tamerlan who built the devices, proffered radical Islamist texts and killed university security officer Sean Collier in Watertown, she said. Clarke cited FBI analysis that found only Tamerlan's fingerprints on many of the weapons components used in the attacks. Tsarnaev was a young man living a mostly normal life who followed his brother down a catastrophic path, she argued. Lead prosecutor William Weinreb disputed the claim that Tsarnaev was somehow talked into militant views. Whether or not his brother provided the radicalizing material, Tsarnaev "read them and he believed them, and he was one of the few who decided to act on them," Weinreb said. The case now goes to the jury, which must reach verdicts on 30 federal charges, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. They were to begin deliberations at 9 am (1300 GMT) Tuesday. The charges include the three people slain in the bombing on April 15, 2013, and the shooting death of Collier three days later. The bombings, in which 260 bystanders were wounded, were the deadliest terrorist attack on civilians on US soil since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, in which nearly 3,000 people died. The judge opened Monday's session by reading descriptions of each count and a list of elements that the jurors must consider. Slouching between his defence team Monday, Tsarnaev wore a black jacket and an open-collared, button-down shirt as he cracked his knuckles, flipped through folders and chewed on a fingernail. The jury verdict is not in doubt, after Tsarnaev's defence team admitted his guilt at the beginning of the trial. In the penalty phase to follow, the jury will have to decide whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison. Although the defense said in closing that Tsarnaev was ready to be accountable for the role he played in the bombings, Weinreb said placing the blame on his brother was "an attempt to sidestep responsibility, not to take responsibility." A date for the sentencing will be set after the jury delivers a verdict.