These politically correct, reeducated Keystone Kops did nothing — after all, why should they have done anything? He was a jihadi, and their Obama-mandated training told them that jihad was a beautiful interior spiritual struggle. “FBI knew earlier of Boston bombing suspect,” by Josh Gerstein for Politico, June 15:
Deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev came to the attention of the FBI on at least two occasions prior to a Russian government warning in March 2011 that said he appeared to be radicalizing, FBI Director Robert Mueller said in Congressional testimony this week.
The earlier references have led some lawmakers to question whether the FBI acted too quickly in closing an assessment of Tsarnaev’s potential ties to terrorism done in response to the Russian request.
In a little-noticed exchange before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, Mueller acknowledged that the Russian alert was not the first time the elder Tsarnaev brother crossed the FBI’s radar.
“His name had come up in two other cases,” Mueller said in response to questions from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). “Those two other cases, the individuals had their cases closed. So, he was one or two person [sic] away.”
When King asked Mueller if it was reasonable to say that the Russian letter “refocused” the FBI on Tsarnaev, Mueller replied, “Absolutely.”
Mueller did not elaborate on the nature of the prior investigations where Tsarnaev’s name had arisen. However, an FBI official told POLITICO they were not related to terrorism. The official, who asked not to be named, also said the agent who conducted an “assessment” of Tsarnaev in response to the Russian warning in 2011 found the previous references and was aware of them.
Former House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he believes the prior mentions of Tsarnaev in FBI files should have resulted in greater scrutiny of the Russian-born U.S. resident who allegedly went on to carry out the April 15, 2013 bombing that killed three and an ensuing crime spree that left a police officer dead.
Tamerlan was eventually killed in a shootout with police a few miles away from the bombing scene. His brother, Dzhokhar, survived the shootout. He has been charged with the bombings and is in a federal prison hospital near Boston.
“What are the chances of the Russians reporting on someone who’s pretty obscure and the FBI checks him out and finds out his name has come up twice before?” asked Peter King. “Wouldn’t it have warranted keeping the investigation open longer or at least going to the Boston police and warning them?”
At Thursday’s hearing, Mueller defended that inquiry as thorough, even though it resulted in no further action.
“I do believe that when we got the lead on Tamerlan from the Russians, that the agent did an excellent job in investigating, utilizing the tools that are available to him in that kind of investigation,” the FBI chief said. “He did all the records checks. He went out to the interview persons at the college where Tamerlan was there for a period of time, ultimately interviewed the parents, interviewed Tamerlan himself, sent the information back to Russia. And on three separate occasions we asked the Russians for additional information that might give us indications or evidence that he was a terrorist.”
Other U.S. officials have said the Russians did not respond to those requests for more information.
Mueller suggested that there simply wasn’t enough of a legal basis to do anything else at that juncture. “At that point in time, I do not know that there was much else that could be done within the statutes, within the Constitution, to further investigate him,” the FBI director said.
Peter King said local police could have visited Tsarnaev’s mosque, for example, something he said FBI guidelines would not have permitted. “They never went to the mosque, never went to the imam….I just find it of some concern there were two references to [Tsarnaev] before and they still didn’t think it merited keeping the investigation open,” the New York Republican told POLITICO Friday.
Steve King, who asked Mueller about the FBI’s full history of knowledge of Tsarnaev, said it’s important to establish how much of the early information on Tsarnaev came from Russia and how much was produced by the U.S. government.
“I thought it was important to ask: ‘Who first flagged you?”¦How did he first come to our attention?” Steve King told POLITICO Saturday. “The Russians seemed to know more about Tamerlan than we did, including that he had traveled to Utah to compete in the Golden Gloves.”…
Steve King said his most urgent concern is that Chechens in the U.S. may be winning asylum without anyone in the U.S. government checking with Russia about whether the individuals have terrorist ties. “My concern is how many terrorists are coming into the United States and are receiving asylum?…What’s the total number of others who might have come in under that same window?” the congressman asked.