Newspaper article International New York Times

Moscow Withheld Facts on Suspect ; Report Says U.S. Requests for More Data on Boston Bomber Were Rejected

Newspaper article International New York Times

Moscow Withheld Facts on Suspect ; Report Says U.S. Requests for More Data on Boston Bomber Were Rejected

Article excerpt

Two years before the bombings, Russia declined to give the F.B.I. information that most likely would have prompted deeper scrutiny of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an inspector general's review said.

The Russian government declined to provide the F.B.I. with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that could have led to more extensive scrutiny of him at least two years before the attack, according to an American inspector general's report.

The report says Russian officials told the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2011 that the suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, "was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer" and that Mr. Tsarnaev "had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country's region to join unspecified underground groups." The report was referring to Dagestan, a region in Russia's North Caucasus.

But after an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev, says the report, a review of how intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing. At the time, United States law enforcement officials said they believed that Mr. Tsarnaev posed a far greater threat to Russia.

The inspector general's report says that it was only after the bombing last April that the Russians shared with the F.B.I. the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Mr. Tsarnaev and his mother in which they discussed jihad.

A senior American official briefed on the report said it asserts "that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the F.B.I. did all that it could."

The American authorities say they believe that Mr. Tsarnaev, who was killed trying to elude the police, and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are the sole suspects in the attack, which killed three people and wounded more than 200 near the marathon's finish line. The Justice Department said in January that it would seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The United States authorities have uncovered little evidence tying the brothers to an international terrorist organization. F.B.I. agents who traveled to Dagestan, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev went in 2012 during a particularly violent period there, said they found nothing that showed he received training or encouragement from terrorists. "At this point it looks like they were homegrown violent extremists," the senior official said. "We certainly aren't in a position to rule anything out, but at this point we haven't found anything substantive that ties them to a terrorist group."

The report was produced by the inspector general of the Intelligence Community, which has responsibility for 17 separate agencies, and the inspectors general from the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. …

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