Russia Tipped FBI to Dead Suspect in 2011

Agents interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev on tip he was a 'radical Islamist'

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2013 7:41 AM CDT | Updated Apr 20, 2013 5:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – Law enforcement officials have confirmed that it was Russia that told the FBI to investigate the slain Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, the AP reports. The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev, following up on the tip that he was a "follower of radical Islam," but didn't deem him a security risk at the time, reports Reuters. The FBI had said only that a foreign government had provided the intel, but two law enforcement officials, speaking anonymously, later revealed the Russian FSB intelligence security service as the source. The Tsarnaev brothers are ethnic Chechens—though they never actually lived in Chechnya—and Tamerlan visited Russia for six months last year, reports CNN.

After getting the tip, the FBI not only talked to Tamerlan but checked out his travel history and web postings. The agency says it "did not find any terrorism activity." His mother says her elder son had embraced Islam but not religious extremism, and she was aware of his contact with the FBI. "How could this happen?" she asked on CNN. "They were controlling every step of him. Now they are saying this is a terrorist act." (Tamerlan, 26, who was killed in a shootout with police, had an American wife and toddler.)

This April 15 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows the  Tsarnaev brothers (white hat and black hat) in the crowd at the Boston Marathon. It was taken 10 to 15 minutes before the first blast.
This April 15 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows the Tsarnaev brothers (white hat and black hat) in the crowd at the Boston Marathon. It was taken 10 to 15 minutes before the first blast.   (AP Photo/Bob Leonard)
Tamerlan Tsarnaev smiles after accepting the trophy for winning the 2010 New England Golden Gloves Championship in Lowell, Mass.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev smiles after accepting the trophy for winning the 2010 New England Golden Gloves Championship in Lowell, Mass.   (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun, Julia Malakie)
Tamerlan Tsameav, left, boxes in this 2009 file photo.
Tamerlan Tsameav, left, boxes in this 2009 file photo.   (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Rick Egan)
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