3:00:50 PMEXCLUSIVE: Boston bomber's Muslim convert widow could still face charges and the FBI 'want to know what she knows'
*Katherine Russell, 24, has met with investigators several times since terror outrage on April 15
*Source close to investigation told MailOnline: 'We can’t rule out anything at the moment in terms of future charges'
*Key area of interest is phone call made by Ms Russell to husband Tamerlan Tsarnaev while he was on the run in the days after bombing
*Russell has hired New York lawyer who has represented terror suspects and a Guantanamo Bay detainee
*Move to bring him on board came after investigators discovered radical Islamist files on Russell’s computer
*Tamerlan's younger brother, Dzokhar, told arresting officers that he and his brother built pressure cooker bombs in the Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment building which Russell shared
*Russell's lawyer told MailOnline she has 'co-operated fully' and 'hopefully they will conclude that Katie should not be charged'
The widow of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev still faces the threat of criminal charges and remains ‘of interest’ to Federal and State investigators four months after the terror attack, MailOnline can report today.
Katherine Russell, 24, has met with investigators several times since the bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
But a source close to the investigation has told MailOnline that law enforcement officials ‘still want to know what she knows,’ and have not ruled out bringing charges.
The source said: ‘We are still very interested to know what she knows and can’t rule out anything at the moment in terms of future charges or where the investigation will take us.
‘So no we’ve not ruled out bringing charges. This is an ongoing investigation and she’s of interest. We are proceeding carefully and thoroughly. It’s not over.’
Ms Russell’s attorney, Amato DeLuca told MailOnline: ‘Katie has co-operated with the government extensively. Hopefully, they will conclude that Katie should not be charged.’
Ms Russell did not meet with Federal investigators until April 22 – a full seven days after the bombings - when several agents spent just 15 minutes speaking with her lawyers at the Russell family’s Rhode Island home.
In the months since the bombs that killed four and wounded 264, with many suffering horrendous wounds including loss of limbs, Ms Russell’s behavior and movements have been a source of great interest and scrutiny.
In May, CNN reported one key area of interest is a telephone call made by Ms Russell to her husband shortly after authorities released his and his brother’s picture to identify them as suspects during the manhunt in the days after the bombings.
The FBI is believed to have retrieved the content of that conversation. Although information collected in this way is rarely presented in court, it can inform the course of investigations and interviews.
In May, Ms Russell added New York attorney Joshua Dratel to her legal team, a criminal lawyer with experience in defending terrorism cases.
Until then Russell had been content to be represented by Amato DeLuca, a longtime family friend and a specialist in civil cases such as personal injury law.
Mr Dratel’s expertise is very different. He has represented terrorism suspects in federal courts and military commissions with Guantanamo Bay detainee, David Hicks, one of his most famous clients.
Hicks attended an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. He spent more than five years in Guantanamo and went onto serve a nine-month sentence in Australia having pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in March 2007.
Speaking at the time, Mr DeLuca explained Ms Russell’s decision and said: ‘Mr Dratel’s unique, specialized experience will help insure that Katie can assist in the ongoing investigation in the most constructive way possible.’
The move to bring Mr Dratel on board came after it was reported by the Washington Post that investigators had discovered radical Islamist files on Ms Russell’s computer.
It remains unclear whether the extremist files found on Ms Russell’s home computer belonged to her or were downloaded by her late husband, Tamerlan, 26, or his younger brother Dzhokar, 19, who is currently awaiting trial.
They included content from Al Qaeda magazine Inspire, which has featured articles such as, ‘Make A Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.’
Investigators have speculated that this may have provided the blueprint for the homemade bombs – two pressure cookers packed with shrapnel – which were detonated with such devastating effect.
Despite submitting not guilty pleas to 30 charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, Dzokhar allegedly told arresting officers that he and his older brother built the pressure cooker bombs in the basement of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment building in which Tamerlan and Ms Russell lived.
The claim was first made by CNN in May and it was also claimed that explosive residue was found in the kitchen sink, the bathtub and on a table in the apartment.
At one point during 2010 and 2011 the young couple shared the small, third-story walk-up in Cambridge along with their daughter, Zahara, now 3, and the entire Tsarnaev clan: Dzhokhar, sisters Bella and Ailina and now divorced parents, Anzor and Zubeidat.
Pictures taken shortly after the bombing revealed the apartment to be in a state of disarray with sports equipment, including Tamerlan’s boxing gloves, and piles of clothes discarded on the floors.
At one point during her time there, Ms Russell provided the only source of income working 70 to 80 hours weeks as a home-carer.
Female DNA was recovered from fragments of the pressure cooker bombs and, in May, investigators moved to recover several bags of evidence from both the Cambridge apartment and the Russell family’s Rhode Island home. However, they subsequently ruled out Ms Russell as the source of this DNA.
Ms Russell quit the Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment and returned to the family home on April 19 - the day her husband was killed.
The home where she was raised by parents Warren, an Emergency Room Physician and Judith, a nurse, along with her two siblings was placed on the market for $467,000 soon after.
It is thought the sale was a longstanding plan and not prompted by the attention garnered by Ms Russell’s return.
Certainly the ‘Katie’ who came back to the family home was very different from the girl who had left it as a student embarking a communications course at Sussex University, Boston.
She dropped out in 2009 after meeting Tsarnaev at a nightclub and falling for the charismatic amateur boxer.
She converted to Islam, according to one associate her decision was due in part to a sense of disillusionment with the Roman Catholic faith in which she was raised along with her sisters, Rebecca, 22, and Anna, 19.
A friend of Tamerlan, Donald Larking, for whose invalid wife Ms Russell provided home care, said this week: ‘She wanted a church with more morals.’
Disheartened by the string of sex abuse scandals that have hit the Church in recent years, Mr Larking said; ‘She felt that mosque would be a safer place for her daughter to go to nursery school.’
He recalled Tamerlan as ‘very, very, religious.’ He added: ‘He believed that the Koran was the one true word and he loved it.’
Ms Russell's only previous brush with the law was in 2007 when she was arrested for stealing $67 worth of clothing from an Old Navy store in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Ms Russell married Tamerlan in a small ceremony on June 21, 2010. Shedding her ‘all-American girl’ image and lifestyle she took the veil and submitted to her husband’s strict outlook.
Shortly after the bombings a friend told MailOnline that Ms Russell had been ‘brainwashed by her super religious husband', adding that the face she showed the world today was ‘unrecognisable’ from the skinny, auburn-haired Katie of High School years in North Kingstown, Rhodes Island.
And though reports have claimed that she has softened her observation of certain practices and has taken to listening to rock music and painting her nails – habits she had abandoned during her marriage – she remains a devout follower of the faith.
During their early meetings at the Russell family home, where Ms Russell and her daughter remain, law enforcement officers spoke with Ms Russell’s lawyers rather than directly with her, raising the question of whether she attempted to invoke ‘spousal privilege.’
According to this law, conversations between a husband and wife in the context of a marriage are protected.
But this does not apply when, for example, a husband dies and has shared the information with a criminal co-conspirator.
The communication is then no longer considered confidential.
If Tamerlan Tsarnaev shared any incriminating information with both his wife and his younger brother Ms Russell would not be able to seek refuge in the spousal privilege law.
This week, two of three of Dzokhar’s friends arrested in connection with the bombings were arraigned on charges of obstruction of justice.
Dias Kadyrbayer and Azamat Tazhayakov, both from Kazakhstan attended the University of Massachusetts where Dzhokhar was an engineering undergraduate.
They are accused of disposing of a laptop, now in FBI custody, and backpack containing fireworks, which they allegedly took from Dzhokhar’s dorm room following the bombings on his instruction.
A third friend, Robel Philipos, faces charges of making false statements to police.
A spokesperson for Massachusetts District Attorney would say only: ‘The investigation is ongoing and we cannot comment on any specifics.’
By Laura Collins In Boston
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