If convicted of the federal crime, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death. He is being treated for significant injuries at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston; earlier reports indicated he was unable to speak.
The full claim against Tsarnaev is "using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death," the Washington Post quoted a Justice Department release as saying.
The White House rebuffed Republican calls to have the suspect tried as an enemy combatant, which would authorize the government to send the case to a military commission and to detain him for any period of time without filing criminal charges.
Tsarnaev suffered gunshot wounds in the neck and leg prior to his apprehension on Friday night following a dramatic manhunt that had placed Boston and surrounding communities on lockdown for most of the day, Reuters reported. Certain press accounts said the 19-year-old had returned to consciousness and was providing written communications to interrogators after two days of induced sleep, but other news organizations said he had yet to awaken.
A complication from the neck injury prevented Tsarnaev from engaging in verbal conversation with questioners, law enforcement personnel said. His brother and alleged second bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police earlier in the day just outside of Boston. The brothers are of Chechen heritage and have lived in the United States for years.
Along with those killed and injured by the twin explosions along the marathon finish line on April 15, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was killed and a transit officer gravely injured before the hunt for the suspects ended.
One police insider said the older suspect had gone to Moscow in early 2012 and resided for half a year in the Russian city of Dagestan. It was uncertain if Tamerlan Tsarnaev had interacted with extremists in southern Russia, but Moscow had raised concerns about his activities and the FBI had spoken with him in 2011.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said an incorrect spelling of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's name as he traveled to Russia prevented the FBI from learning of the trip, Agence France-Presse reported.
Government sources on Sunday said the brothers had stockpiled additional firearms and bombs and probably intended to carry out additional strikes, the New York Times reported.