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article imageFBI feigns ignorance of Boston suspects' identity, Collier dies

By Ralph Lopez     Jun 4, 2013 in World
The Boston FBI office had extensive interactions with bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and strong indicators of Chechen involvement, but pleaded ignorant of the suspect's identity when it enlisted the public for help in identifying photos of him.
The decision to publicize surveillance photos of the brothers possibly cost law enforcement the chance for a pre-emptive raid on Tamerlan's home in Cambridge, and sparked a chain of events which resulted in the alleged killing, by the suspects, of MIT police officer Sean Collier.
The FBI interviewed Tamerlan face-to-face in April 2011, and says that it investigated him and his family as a result of numerous warnings from the Russian FSB intelligence service. In addition, the weapons and method used in the bombing, pressure cooker bombs spaced seconds apart, is a signature of Chechen rebels from the North Caucasus region. Paul J. Murray, a US counterterrorism expert and author of "Allah’s Angels: Chechen Women in War," told USNI News:
“The same scenario occurs frequently in the North Caucasus, using a single bomb, often in a trash can, then when emergency services arrive, a second bomb goes off, sometimes a third one.”
In January of 2011 Chechen rebels attacked the Moscow airport with a pressure cooker bomb, killing 36 people. Given the methodology of the Boston bombings, which Murray called "identical" to that seen in Russia, the brothers would have been on a short list of prime suspects to be matched to the men in the photos.
The FBI issued a nationwide alert asking the public for help in identifying Tamerlan and his brother on April 18th, three days after the bombing. Special Agent Richard Deslauriers, head of the Boston Division, said in a press conference:
"the public will play a critical role in identifying and locating them. Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members of the suspects."
But according to a press release at the FBI website on the subject of the FBI's history with Tamerlan, the FBI "interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members" in 2011, and:
"checked U.S. government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history."
The investigations and interview were prompted by warnings from Russian intelligence that Tamerlan had turned to radical Islam.
After a closed-door hearing probing the FBI's failure to prevent the Boston attacks, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina told reporters that Russian intelligence continued to warn the FBI throughout the period of time in which Tamerlan had gone to Chechnya, and after that as late as October of 2012. Tamerlan visited Chechnya for six months, from January 2012 and into the summer. By that time, he was on at least two terror watch lists, placed there by both the FBI and the CIA.
In addition, Tamerlan, a resident alien, was known to local law enforcement from a 2009 domestic disturbance incident, and had a mug shot taken at the time.
At the April 18th press conference, Special Agent Deslauriers told the assembled press:
"As you can see, the quality of the photos is quite good, but we will continue to work on developing additional images to improve their identification. Further, on FBI.gov, we have videos of the suspects. The photos and videos are posted for the public and media to use, review and publicize...For more than 100 years, the FBI has relied on the public to be its eyes and ears. With the media’s help, in an instant, these images will be delivered directly into the hands of millions around the world. We know the public will play a critical role in identifying and locating them. Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members of the suspects."
The FBI has not explained how the distinctive brothers, one well-known in boxing circles, were not immediately identified by the counter-terrorism unit. After the Marathon, the brothers were following their normal routines, one living in Cambridge at 190 Norfolk Street, and other at UMass Dartmouth. The Boston Marathon bombing is among the worst terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11.
The day the surveillance photographs were released, a rapid chain of events ensued which began with the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier, allegedly by the suspects, who took flight apparently in panic after the broadcast by the media of their faces. This was followed by a chase and a manhunt, during which the older brother was killed. The younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, was captured after what was at first described by authorities as a gun battle, but later confirmed to be a discharge of weapons only by law enforcement. Dzhokhar was later confirmed to be unarmed. The below video shows law enforcement surrounding the boat in which Dzhokhar was found hiding after a day-long search. Gunfire can be heard which is presumably aimed at the boat.
Last week Dzhokhar contradicted earlier media reports that he had confessed to his involvement in the bombing. Soon after his capture, unnamed law enforcement sources told reporters that, while Dzhokhar was in the hospital, he said that "the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack." The sources also said that Dzhokhar had "acknowledged his role in planting the explosives near the marathon finish line on April 15." But in an AP interview with Dzhokhar's mother in Dagestan, the mother said that Dzhokhar had assured her of both his and his brother's innocence of the Marathon bombing.
President Obama has defended the FBI, saying on April 30th: "Based on what I can see so far, the FBI performed its duties. The Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing. But this is hard stuff."
Police lighting up boat with Dzhokhar in it
More about boston marathon bombing, FBI, Obama
 
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