Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Widow Katherine Russell Under Federal Scrutiny

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow Katherine Russell is under close surveillance by federal agents as they tighten an investigation into the inner circle of the accused Boston Marathon bombers.

In the weeks since the bombing that claimed the lives of three people and left more than 250 injured, federal agents have traced the Tsarnaev brothers to several others connected to the bombing. Three college friends of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested for hiding a backpack full of emptied-out fireworks they found in the suspect’s apartment shortly after the bombing.

The search for others who may have helped the Tsarnaev brothers has focused on Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old widow of Tamerlan. Her husband was killed in a firefight with police four days after the bombing.

Russell has taken steps to distance herself from her late husband, going by her maiden name and releasing a statement through her family that they “never really knew” Tamerlan. She has been staying at her parents’ house in Rhode Island since Tamerlan was killed and left his body unclaimed until Tamerlan’s family took possession of it.

The object of the surveillance is to force Katherine Russell into full cooperation with authorities.

“It seems to me they don’t believe her yet,” said David Zlotnick, a professor of law at Roger Williams University and former federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia.

Investigators like want “to figure out if she has knowledge of how he became radicalized, who he spoke to, how he may have learned to make the bomb and whether there are others out there who share his views,” said Ron Sullivan, a professor and director of Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute.

Federal investigators are reportedly zeroing in on a trip to Russia Tamelran took last year and looking into whether the brothers tested bombs before the attack. They believe Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow Katherine Russell may have some of those answers.