The Boston police commissioner and a top Massachusetts Homeland Security official told Congress Thursday that the local and state police were never informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Department of Homeland Security of multiple warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar are the only suspects to date in the twin bombings at the downtown Boston finish line of the race, which killed three people and wounded more than 160 others. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police on April 19. Dzhokhar is under arrest at a prison medical facility outside of Boston.
Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said his department had been unaware that the Russian government contacted the FBI in 2011 to warn of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s radical jihadist sympathies and his plans to travel to the northern Caucasus and link up with Islamist separatist and terrorist elements from Dagestan and Chechnya. Nor had he been told, he said, that the FBI had questioned the elder Tsarnaev brother and his family, or that Tamerlan subsequently, in 2012, spent six months in the volatile region of southern Russia.
The FBI has acknowledged receiving the warning from Moscow and launching a probe of Tsarnaev, including an interrogation, but claims it found no “derogatory” information and closed the case. The Central Intelligence Agency has also acknowledged receiving a similar warning from Russia later in 2011. The government has also reported that it placed Tamerlan Tsarnaev on at least two anti-terror databases.
It has been widely reported that following his return from Russia, Tsarnaev posted jihadist videos on the Internet and was ejected from his mosque for making provocative anti-American statements.
There are also reports that the Russian internal security service gave the FBI a case file on Tsarnaev in November of 2012, after Tsarnaev’s return from Russia, outlining multiple contacts between the ethnic Chechen US resident and known members of the Islamist underground in Dagestan, which borders Chechnya.
On May 1, moreover, the BritishDaily Mail reported that Saudi Arabian officials sent a written report in 2012 to top US Homeland Security Department officials detailing their concerns about Tsarnaev and warning that he might be planning a terror attack.
Also testifying before the House committee on Thursday was Massachusetts Undersecretary for Homeland Security Kurt Schwartz, who said, “My understanding is that at no time