According to criminal complaint, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friend Dias Kadyrbayev sent a text warning him that his fast was all over the news, the Boston bomber responded with “lol” (universal text message-speak for a joke).
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, then told his pal Dias Kadyrbayev: “You better not text me.”
Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, is one of three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends arrested on Wednesday by federal authorities and accused of trying to cover the suspected terrorist’s tracks by throwing away his computer and a backpack full of firearms.
He and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakh nationals, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by destroying evidence. American citizen Robel Phillipos is charged with knowingly and willfully making false statements to investigators.
The three young men were friends of Dzhokhar Tsarneav at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where the bomb suspect was a promising student.
According to the criminal complaint from federal authorities, Dias Kadyrbayev sent a text message to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 18 after the FBI released surveillance images of him at the Boston Marathon with his brother Tamerlan.
Dias Kadyrbayev warned his friend that that he was plastered across TV News.
“Tsarnaev’s return texts contained <<lol>> and other things KADYRBAYEV interpreted as jokes,” documents say.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also wrote: “You better not text me” and “Come to my room and take whatever you want”.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov had already been in police custody for more than a week at the time of their arrest because they were previously questioned about their license plate that reads “TERRORISTA#1”. Authorities then held them on immigration issues because they are in the country illegally after their academic visas expired.
The nature of these charges suggests that none of these young men helped plan the fatal Marathon bombing, which left three dead and more than 260 injured, but they did work to cover Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s tracks from investigators and evade capture.
The detailed criminal complaint goes through the timeline of events according to each of the 19-year-olds, all of whom met Dzhokhar Tsarnaev when they started school at UMASS-Dartmouth in the same semester in the fall of 2011.
Like many throughout Boston, none of the three boys had any inkling that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was involved until the FBI released pictures of the two suspects.
On the same day that the FBI released pictures and video clips of the Tsarnaev brothers at the bomb scene, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov removed items from the younger bomber’s dorm room.
That was just two days before the FBI searched the room.
The criminal complaint lists that they removed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack from his room and “agreed to get rid of it after concluding from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the Boston Marathon bombers”.
The three friends- Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos- went over to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s on-campus dormitory after seeing the news reports.
When the group arrived at the dorm, Dias Kadyrbayev showed Azamat Tazhayakov a text from the bomber that said: “I’m about to leave if you need something in my room take it.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not specify where he was going, but Azamat Tazhayakov told investigators that he felt that this meant he would never see Tsarnaev alive again.
They were let in the room by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s roommate, who said that Dzhokhar had been there just a few hours earlier.
The criminal complaint says that when there, the three friends watched a movie.
Dias Kadyrbayev “knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the Marathon bombing”.
Azamat Tazhayakov was more alarmed because the tubes had been emptied but not destroyed, meaning that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could have either used the explosives or planned to use them.
Kadyrbayev found Vaseline in the room, which he told the others Tsarnaev used to make bombs.
At one point in the police interviews, Azamat Tazhayakev said that during a meal a month before the attack, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told he and Dias Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb.
Dias Kadyrbayev was reportedly the one who “decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble”.
In a slightly unexpected explanation, Dias Kadyrbayev says that he took Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop because he did not want to the roommate to think that he was “stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack”.
Though the release of the photos is the first time that alarm bells went off in the students’ minds, it is not the first time that they interacted with the bomber since Monday April 15.
Both Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov- who shared an apartment in New Bedford- spent time with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev two days after the bombing.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev met with Dias Kadyrbayev briefly, where Kadyrbayev noted that Dzhokhar “appeared to have given himself a short haircut”.
Azamat Tazahayakov told police that he spent more time with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev earlier that same day, when Tsarnaev drove him to his off-campus apartment after class and then they spent time hanging out in the apartment.
During multiple interviews, American Robel Phillipos lied about various parts of the story- at first saying that he never went to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room, then saying that they didn’t remove anything, then saying that they went to the dorm but it was locked and they never entered.
After repeating false versions of the same story, Robel Phillipos recanted his previous testimony in the fourth interview on April 26.
The gravity of the situation did not appear to hit Robel Phillipos until after the trio returned to the off-campus apartment and they “started to freak out, because it became clear from a CNN report that we were watching that Jahar [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] was one of the Boston Marathon bombers”.
The Boston police were the first to announce the arrests via Twitter, and they followed up their initial tweet by confirming that there is no threat to public safety.