Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Thursday that a third man is being sought as s possible suspect in last week’s Boston Marathon terror bombings — a Muslim convert who may have had ties to the 26-year old man who was killed in gun battle with police on Friday.
“We now know of a third person,” the South Carolina Republican, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “The young man tells us that they were self-radicalized from watching videos.
“Now, we’re looking for someone who was close to the older brother,” he said, referring to Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He died in the gunfight with police.
A man described by Tamerlan’s uncle only as Misha is believed to be a Muslim convert who steered the 26-year-old to a more radical form of Islam. The man has not been found by authorities.
“Somehow, he just took his brain,” Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, told The Daily Mail this week. “He just brainwashed him completely.”
Tsarni, who lives in Maryland, said that he recalled that Tamerlan’s father increasingly grew worried about Misha’s influence on his son. They had met in 2009.
According to the Daily Mail, all that is known about Misha is that he is Armenian, in his 30s, and has distinctive red beard. He no longer lives in the Cambridge, Mass., area.
Meanwhile, Graham told Blitzer on Thursday that with the addition of Misha to the case, “the plot thickens.”
“The young man said ‘nobody was involved — we became self-radicalized,’” he added, referring to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was arrested on Friday after an intense manhunt and remained hospitalized and under heavy police guard in Boston on Thursday.
“Chechnyan rebels have joined al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is a really dangerous part of the world. I’d like to know who this third person was. Clearly, they did more than watch videos.”
He added that the Obama White House failed in designating Tsarnaev as a criminal suspect instead of an “enemy combatant,” which would have allowed for interrogation for terrorism-related purposes.
“I’m not trying to solve a crime,” Graham told CNN. “I’m trying to enhance our security and prevent a future attack.
“The Obama administration made a mistake by not looking at this man, given his ties to the radical Islamic attack Boston faced as a potential enemy combatant. I don’t want to undercut his rights in court. I want to make sure we’re gathering intelligence — and I think we’ve lost that.”
In addition, the senator said that now that the United States is convinced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his people — defined as a “red line” by Obama that would trigger a U.S. response — the White House must “rally the international community to stop this war.
Other methods include “giving safe haven to the rebels, putting together a ‘no-fly’ zone to ground the Syrian Air Force and neutralize their tank advantage to allow the rebels to fight back,” Graham said.
“There are a bunch of radicals in the midst of the rebels,” he added. “The right arms to the right people.”
Graham said, however, that he was more concerned about Syria’s extensive stockpile of chemical weapons.
“We need to have a plan the day after Assad falls to go in and secure these chemical weapon sites and destroy these weapons before they get in the wrong hands,” he told CNN.