Three friends of surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Dias Kadyrbayev, Robel Phillipos and Azamat Tazhayakov, have turned into key figures in the Boston marathon terror attack investigation. Not much is known about the three 19-year-old friends. They all attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth in 2011, along with Tsarnaev.
Phillipos, Tazhayakov,and Kadyrbayev are accused of removing items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the April 15 attack, including a backpack containing fireworks that had been opened and emptied of powder. Phillipos claims that the fireworks disappeared while he was taking a nap. He “eventually confessed that he had lied to agents during his previous interviews,” the FBI complaint states.
Robel Phillipos is a U.S. citizen. He was a 2011 high school graduate at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Dzhokhar. 19-year-old Phillipos was studying marketing, but the university said Wednesday he is not currently enrolled.
He lives with his mother, who is from Ethiopia and works with refugees. Their apartment is next to the gas station where the Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a vehicle before getting into the shootout with police in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.
Phillipos was arrested on May 1, he is charged of lying to federal agents who are investigating the attacks, according to court papers. He is due back in court Monday. Phillipos faces up to eight years in prison if convicted, along with a $250,00 fine. He is being represented by Cambridge-based attorney Derege Demissie.
A friend of Phillipos, James Turney, told CNN that he is a “good kid”, adding:
“He went to school, never got in trouble, took care of his mom. He was not really outgoing, stayed in the house a lot, did homework, got good grades.”
According to Turney, Phillipos plays basketball and doesn’t have “any anti-American thing about him”.
“It just doesn’t make sense. Robel doesn’t have anything to do with this, or what happened, so I don’t see why he’s being arrested,” he told WBZ.
On April 18, just three days after the brothers’ Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev bombings, Robel Phillipos recognized his friend Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s photo on TV news and alerted the two others, according to the FBI affidavit released Wednesday.