GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 24, 2013

Probe zeroes in on Islamic ties

Suspect improves as boy, 8, laid to rest

BOSTON — The Boston area held funerals for two more of its dead Tuesday — including an 8-year-old boy — as evidence mounted that the older Tsarnaev brother had embraced a radical, anti-American strain of Islam and was the driving force behind the Boston Marathon bombing.

Younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s condition was upgraded from serious to fair as investigators continued building their case against the 19-year-old college student.

He could face the death penalty after being charged Monday with joining forces with his brother, now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people.

In Washington, Senate Intelligence Committee member Richard Burr, R-N.C., said after his panel was briefed by federal law enforcement officials that there is “no question” that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was “the dominant force” behind the attacks, and that the brothers had apparently been radicalized by material on the Internet rather than by contact with militant groups overseas.

Martin Richard, a schoolboy from Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood who was the youngest of those killed in the April 15 blasts at the marathon finish line, was laid to rest after a family-only funeral Mass.

“The outpouring of love and support over the last week has been tremendous,” the family said in a statement. “This has been the most difficult week of our lives.”

A funeral was also held for Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26, who authorities said was shot to death by the Tsarnaev brothers three days after the bombing. A memorial service for Collier, a graduate of Salem State University, is scheduled for today at MIT, with Vice President Joe Biden expected to attend.

More than 260 people were injured by the bomb blasts, according to the latest figures. About 50 were still hospitalized.

Authorities believe neither brother had links to terror groups. However, two U.S. officials said Tuesday that Tamerlan Tsarnaev — who died last week in a gunbattle — frequently looked at extremist websites, including Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate. The magazine has endorsed lone-wolf terror attacks.

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