Is Dead 23-Year-Old a Boston Bombing Clue?

FBI investigates whether Tsarnaev met William Plotnikov

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 29, 2013 9:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – As the FBI investigates Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Russian contacts, one name in particular is drawing attention: that of William Plotnikov, a 23-year-old killed in a shootout with Russian counterterror forces in 2012. Within days of Plotnikov's July 14 death, Tsarnaev returned to the US in what Time terms "an apparent hurry." (As evidence of his rushing, it cites the fact that he left before picking up his new Russian passport, which was ostensibly the reason he traveled there in the first place.) The men had some remarkable similarities: Both came from families rooted in Muslim areas of Russia but emigrated to North America (Plotnikov to the Toronto area).

Both dove into boxing after crossing the Atlantic—and both got involved with radical Islam, eventually heading to Dagestan; both were there between January and July of 2012. An official told the New York Times yesterday that investigators are trying to figure out if the two ever met. Time reports there's no evidence they did but notes that a Russian newspaper reported over the weekend that Tsarnaev's named surfaced in a 2011 interrogation of Plotnikov conducted by Russian security officials; no further details are given. But locals, including the family Plotnikov lived with and the town's police chief, tell Time they don't recognize Tsarnaev when shown photos. (Meanwhile, the New York Review of Books tracks down "Misha.")

FBI agents continue to investigate the scene in Watertown, Mass., Tuesday, April 23, 2013 where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.
FBI agents continue to investigate the scene in Watertown, Mass., Tuesday, April 23, 2013 where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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