Terrorists blew up my sons in Boston bombings 10 years ago – but conspiracy theorists claim we MADE UP marathon attack | The Sun
ON a bright spring afternoon Dzhokhar Tsarnaev laid down a backpack in between children and families cheering runners on towards the finishing line of the Boston Marathon.
The then 19-year-old resident of the US city walked calmly away and remotely detonated the huge pressure cooker bomb filled with ball bearings and nails.
It exploded, killing eight-year-old Martin Richard and 23-year-old Lü Lingzi and ripping the limbs off others.
Just 14 seconds beforehand Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan had murdered Krystle Campbell, 29, with the first bomb.
Two police officers died in the four-day manhunt to track down the lone wolf terrorists, which saw citizens locked down in their homes for fear of the well-armed killers striking again.
On today's tenth anniversary of the bombing, the mother of two brothers who lost a leg each standing “right on top” of Dzhokhar’s homemade killing machine is in no mood for forgiveness.
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Even though Dzhokhar admitted planting the bomb and was given the death penalty in 2015 his lawyers have kept him from being lethally injected.
But Liz Norden told The Sun: “That day was a living nightmare, I had two sons in different hospitals, they were unrecognisable, they had tubes coming out of them, we were praying that they lived.
“He chose to do what he did.
“He was given the death penalty and I hope I am around long enough for them to see it through.”
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There are no questions about what Tamerlan’s fate should be.
He was run over by his brother, driving a getaway vehicle at three policemen who had wrestled Tamerlan to the ground.
The heroic officers survived, but the older terrorist died aged 26 from his injuries before reaching hospital.
A decade on, the debate still rages about what drove two Chechen refugees to maim and murder so many innocent bystanders.
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Krystle Campbell’s friend Karen McWatters was waiting for her runner boyfriend Kevin McWatters to reach the final straight when Tamerlan’s pressure cooker exploded by her at 2:49pm on April 15 2013.
She says: “My ears were ringing, it was just chaos. My foot was turned sideways.
“I was next to Krystle, she looked like a rag doll.”
It was just chaos. My foot was turned sideways
After hearing the explosion Liz’s 6ft 2in tall son Paul, 41, helped his girlfriend Jacqui Webb get over the barrier to the safety of the street.
But before either him or his brother JP, 43, could escape the second bomb went off.
Mum-of-five Liz, 60, says: “If Paul wasn’t as big as he was he’d be dead.”
JP’s clothes were on fire and the flames were put out by quick-thinking passers-by.
Paul saw his right leg lying on the street, but when he tried to reach out to grab it he couldn’t move.
There is a lot of things you can’t do, like he can’t chase after his daughter
Both men required emergency medical surgery to save their lives and both now have prosthetic limbs where their right legs once were.
Paul, who lost his leg above the knee, needs the most help.
Liz, who set up a prosthetic limb charity called A Leg Forever to help others in the wake of the attacks, explains: “Their lives have changed. "Being an above the leg amputee there is a lot of things you can’t do, like he can’t chase after his daughter.
“They did so well together. I don’t think they could have done what they done without the help of each other.”
Confusion reigned following the detonations ten years ago.
Even though there were fears of more explosions, brave emergency workers and members of the public saved lives by rushing to aid the wounded.
Investigators had no idea who the bombers might have been and it was only by painstakingly reviewing thousands of hours of video footage that they were able to find their suspects.
But they had no identities for the young bombers, who were simply referred to as white hat and black hat due to the colour of the baseball caps that partially obscured their faces.
The FBI wanted to withhold the photos while Boston’s police commissioner Ed Davis believed that if the public saw the images the killers would be found quickly.
When the photos were released three days after the bombing the Tsarnaev brothers put their remaining bombs into a car with the intention of heading to New York to carry out more atrocities.
We did the Boston bombing and we just killed a cop in Cambridge
Dzhokhar shot dead policeman Sean Collier while trying to get the gun off the officer who was sitting in his patrol car in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
They then stole Danny Meng’s Mercedes, forcing their hostage to drive the car.
Danny recalls Tamerlan telling him: “We did the Boston bombing and we just killed a cop in Cambridge.”
But while they were refuelling Danny made a dash for freedom running to a neighbouring petrol station where he begged the attendant to call the police because he’d been kidnapped by the Boston bombers.
The stolen Mercedes was spotted by two officers in a police car in the quiet Boston neighbourhood of Watertown.
Due to a failure of communication the policemen did not know it was being driven by the armed and dangerous terrorists.
Officer Joseph Reynolds and Sergeant John MacLellan came under intense fire when they tried to approach the suspects.
Sgt MacLellan says: “I thought these kids are throwing sticks at us”, but in fact they were pipe bombs which exploded under the police car.
Off duty officer Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese sneaked up by the side of the terrorists and fired at Tamerlan hitting him nine times.
It was like a Pulp Fiction moment
The bomber did not go down, instead shooting at Sgt Pugliese but somehow missing him.
Pugliese says: “It was like a Pulp Fiction moment.”
Once both their guns had run out of ammunition, the officer rugby tackled Tamerlan to the ground.
Dzhokhar then drove at his brother and the police sergeant at 40mph.
Brave Pugliese told The Sun: “I felt the breeze of that vehicle go by my head and probably missed me by an inch or two.
“I am laying there on my back and I see the front wheels go over the older brother Tamerlan.”
Later that evening Dzhokhar was discovered cowering in a small sailing boat resting in a Watertown resident’s garden.
During his trial he admitted putting down and setting off the bomb, but his lawyers claimed he was under the influence of his more violent older brother.
A jury found him guilty of carrying out the attacks and murdering police officer Collier.
There is evidence that Tamerlan was the more violent half of the partnership.
Many believe that a year and a half before the bombing he decapitated three drug dealers in Boston.
Some relatives of victims think that Dzhokhar should end his days in prison rather than be executed.
Martin’s parents Bill and Denise Richard, whose daughter Jane also lost a limb in the attack, are in favour of “taking the death penalty off the table.”
Liz, though, says: “I don’t believe it's his older brother who is to blame. He chose to set it off.
“I don’t think he was influenced. He was 19 years old. I went to that trial every day. He showed no remorse.”
There are many theories as to why the Tsarnaev brothers were radicalised.
One is that they believed 9/11 conspiracy theorists who claimed that the American secret services were behind the attacks on the twin towers in New York.
Tamerlan listened to Alex Jones, who was recently told to pay millions for spreading lies about Sandy Hook school shooting victims, and read magazines which claimed Muslim terrorists were not responsible for bringing down the World Trade Center.
I am in a conspiracy theory, they say I am a liar and that my sons lost their legs in Afghanistan
Liz knows all too well how damaging such conspiracy theories can be.
She reveals: “I am in a conspiracy theory, they say I am a liar and that my sons lost their legs in Afghanistan. They were never in the army. None of it.
“They say they’re gold diggers and they lost their legs years ago.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
At no point did Liz ask for any money for this interview.
Instead she is a mum who has tried to turn a tragedy into something positive.
The A Leg Forever foundation has helped provide prosthetic limbs for over 60 people since it was founded nine years ago.
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Those vital new limbs can cost as much as £50,000.
Liz concludes: “We can’t help everyone, but if we can change someone’s life along the way it’s so worth it.”
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