Boston Marathon Bombings: US-Russia Cooperation Before the Bombings

By Greg Miller, Apr 25, 2013 12:48 AM EDT

The Washington Post

The CIA pushed to have one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers placed on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list more than a year before the attacks, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Russian authorities contacted the CIA in the fall of 2011 and raised concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed last week in a confrontation with police, was seen as an increasingly radical Islamist who could be planning to travel overseas.A harrowing week after the Boston Marathon bombings: With one suspect in custody, a city mourns the victims and investigators seek answers.
The CIA request led the National Counterterrorism Center to add Tsarnaev’s name to a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, that is used to feed information to other lists, including the FBI’s main terrorist screening database.  The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a preliminary inquiry into Tsarnaev after getting a similar warning from Russian state security, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. The disclosure of the CIA’s involvement suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than it has previously acknowledged to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the United States and investigate him further after a seven-month trip he took to Russia last year. The CIA declined to comment on its role in the case. A U.S. intelligence official said the agency had  nominated [Tsarnaev] for inclusion in the watchlisting system  and had shared all of the information it had been given by Russia, including  two possible dates of birth, his name and a possible variant.  The official said the information that Russia provided to the CIA was  nearly identical  to what it had shared with the FBI. U.S. officials said the warning to the CIA came from Russia’s FSB, a successor to the KGB, and that it was based on fears that Tsarnaev was an Islamist militant who might seek to carry out a terrorist attack in Russia. Tsarnaev and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, immigrated to the United States about a decade ago, but their family had ties to Chechnya, a region where Muslim separatists have been engaged in a bloody conflict with the Moscow government for decades. The younger Tsarnaev, who is recovering from gunshot injuries in a Boston hospital, was apprehended days after the marathon bombing and faces multiple terrorism-related charges. The FSB appears to have turned over information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including possible birth dates and the spelling of his name in Cyrillic letters, to CIA officials in Moscow in late September 2011.  The information was passed to CIA headquarters on Oct. 4 and relayed roughly two weeks later to the National Counterterrorism Center, an agency that serves as a clearinghouse for threat data and manages the TIDE database.  The Reuters news agency first disclosed that Tsarnaev’s name was listed in the TIDE database. But the revelation of the CIA’s role is likely to intensify questions about whether the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies missed chances to detect or disrupt the bomb plot.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-pushed-to-add-boston-bomber-to-terror-watch-list/2013/04/24/cf02b43c-ad10-11e2-a8b9-2a63d75b5459_story.html?wpisrc=al_national

Officials: Boston suspect had no firearm when barrage of bullets hit hiding place

Although police feared he was heavily armed, the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing had no firearms when he came under a barrage of police gunfire that struck the boat where he was hiding, according to multiple federal law enforcement officials.

Authorities said they were desperate to capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev so he could be questioned. The FBI, however, declined to discuss what prompted the gunfire.

Video

Speaking at the memorial service of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was killed while pursuing the Boston bombing suspects, Vice President Biden praised Collier as "a wonderful kid" and promised, “we will not yield to fear.”

Speaking at the memorial service of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was killed while pursuing the Boston bombing suspects, Vice President Biden praised Collier as "a wonderful kid" and promised, “we will not yield to fear.”

More on this story:

Stories of the victims

Stories of the victims

INTERACTIVE | Three people were killed and more than 250 injured when two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon.

Aftermath of the Boston bombings

Aftermath of the Boston bombings

PHOTOS | With a suspect in custody, a city mourns the victims as investigators work to determine what happened.

Lawyers: Suspect’s wife aiding probe

Lawyers: Suspect’s wife aiding probe

VIDEO |  Lawyers for the wife of the deceased marathon bombing suspect say she is doing everything she can to assist authorities.

Investigation into the Boston bombings

Investigation into the Boston bombings

MAP | Explore the sequence and locations of the unfolding events in the Boston area.

Other law enforcement officials said the shooting may have been prompted by the chaos of the moment and some action that led the officers to believe Tsarnaev had fired a weapon or was about to detonate explosives.

These new details emerged as investigators continued their examination of the movements and motives of Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother, Tamerlan, in last week’s coordinated bombing, which killed three people and wounded more than 250.

Law enforcement officials said they do not believe the brothers were connected with a terrorist organization, but they cautioned that the inquiry is at an early stage.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a confrontation with police in the early morning hours Friday, four days after the marathon bombing. A transit police officer was seriously wounded in the exchange, in which more than 200 rounds were fired and the suspects lobbed homemade explosives at police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped and was the subject of a massive manhunt. He was cornered hiding in a boat in the driveway of a house in Watertown, Mass., on Friday evening.

Law enforcement officials described the 30 minutes before the arrest of Tsarnaev as chaotic. One characterized it as “the fog of war” and said that in a highly charged atmosphere, one accidental shot could have caused what police call “contagious fire.”

Officers from several agencies gathered around the Watertown house as darkness fell. The FBI was in charge of the scene, but there also were officers from the Massachusetts State Police, local police and transit police.

“They probably didn’t know whether he had a gun,” said one law enforcement official, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. “Hours earlier, he and his brother had killed a police officer, shot another officer and thrown explosives out of their cars as the police were chasing them. They couldn’t assume that he did not have a gun and more explosives.”

The FBI declined to discuss the exact sequence of events that led officers to open fire on Tsarnaev’s hiding place and whether the dozens of bullets that struck the boat caused any of his gunshot wounds.

A spokesman for the FBI said law enforcement agents were tracking an extremely dangerous suspect who had used guns and explosives on a public street to avoid arrest.

“Law enforcement was placed in an extraordinarily dangerous situation,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. “They were dealing with an individual who is alleged to have been involved in the bombings at the Boston Marathon. As if that’s not enough, there were indications of a carjacking, gunfire, an ambushed police officer and bombs thrown earlier. In spite of these extraordinary factors, they were able to capture this individual alive with no further harm to law enforcement. It was a tremendously effective outcome under dire circumstances.”

Early Friday in Watertown, the brothers engaged in a firefight with police. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and fell to the ground, according to police and photos, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev climbed back in a Mercedes sport-utility vehicle carjacked earlier. He drove at police and struck his wounded brother on the street. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was dragged a distance by the car, was declared dead on arrival at a Boston hospital.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Massachusetts on Monday to support charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said police recovered a single firearm and half a dozen explosives and homemade bombs from the scene of the shootout.

In the ensuing chaos, Tsarnaev accelerated away, abandoned the car and eventually made it on foot just beyond a cordon quickly set up by police. Around 6 p.m. Friday, Tsarnaev was detected hiding beneath a plastic cover on a boat by its owner, who called police. A thermal imaging unit in a police helicopter confirmed a presence in the boat.

“You can’t second-guess what they were doing on that scene,” said a second law enforcement official. “Their own lives were in danger.”

In the immediate aftermath of Tsarnaev’s capture, police officials said he had fired from the boat and he was reported to have been captured with several weapons. There were also reports that the gunshot wound he suffered to the throat might have been an attempt to kill himself as police moved in.

Tsarnaev continues to be treated at a Boston hospital, where his condition has been upgraded from critical to fair. He began communicating in writing and some speech with a special team of FBI interrogators Saturday night and was officially charged Monday.

On Wednesday, Vice President Biden eulogized Sean Collier, the slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, and denounced Tsarnaev and his dead brother as “two twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff
jihadis.”

Thousands of MIT students and police officers from across the United States attended a memorial service on the grounds of the university to remember the 27-year-old police officer.

Jenna Johnson in Boston and David Montgomery and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/officials-boston-suspect-had-no-firearm-when-barrage-of-bullets-hit-hiding-place/2013/04/24/376fc8a0-ad18-11e2-a8b9-2a63d75b5459_story_1.html

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