Tamerlan Tsarnaev's citizenship bid part of widening Boston bombings probe
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The older brother suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings had an application for U.S. citizenship placed on hold after the FBI questioned him on potential Islamic extremist ties, raising questions about whether he could have been identified before carrying out the attack.
The inquiry into why 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, shot dead by police on April 19 and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, may have detonated bombs in the crowd near the finish line, widened in scope as the younger brother, captured early Friday, remained hospitalized. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis described his condition this morning as "serious but stable condition" and not well enough to be interrogated.
"There are questions that have to be answered," said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "This man was pointed out by a foreign government to be dangerous. He was interviewed by the FBI once. What did they find out? What did they miss? Then he went to Russia and to Chechnya. Why wasn't he interviewed when he came back Tamerlan Tsarnaev was brought to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's attention two years ago by a foreign government that said he held extremist Islamist beliefs, the agency said in a statement. The FBI said it found no evidence of terrorist activity at the time.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on the Sunday CNN program that "my understanding is the Russian intelligence service contacted the FBI" which "let him go" after he was interviewed.
"I want to know how the FBI or the system dropped the ball when he was identified as a potential terrorist," Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on the CNN program. "It's people like this that you don't want to let out of your sight and this was a mistake."
The new FBI-led probe is paying close attention to a six- month trip Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an immigrant of Chechen descent, took shortly afterward to Chechnya and neighboring Dagestan, both regions of Russia that have been embroiled in Islamist separatist movements.
HIDDEN IN BOAT
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, captured hiding in a boat at near dusk on April 19 in Watertown, Mass., was at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for treatment.
Investigators plan to use a legal exception to question the younger brother without advising him of his constitutional rights to remain silent and secure an attorney. The younger brother's injuries were such that "he's in no condition to be interrogated at this point in time," Police Commissioner Davis said in an interview this morning on Fox News.
The Tsarnaev brothers are accused of an attack that transformed America's most storied road-running race into a tableau of mayhem and confusion, planting two bombs that exploded about 10 seconds apart near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
Several blocks near the blast sites remained cordoned off this morning by police barricades and yellow crime scene tape. At the corner of Berkeley and Boylston streets an impromptu shrine has swelled since April 15 with people leaving flowers, personal notes and mementos of the race, such as their running shoes or race numbers.
Beyond the barriers white-suited workers were still picking up debris left by the explosion at the finish line, and carrying it to trucks.
RED SEX RALLY
With the manhunt for the bombers ended, the first Red Sox home game since attack served as rallying point for the city yesterday.
The governor and a phalanx of uniformed law enforcement officers were introduced on the field before the baseball game. During a break, singer Neil Diamond crooned his signature Sox anthem, "Sweet Caroline." Players wore jerseys imprinted with "Boston" instead of the team's name, with plans to auction the uniforms later to raise money for bombing victims.
The request to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 advised that he "was a follower of radical Islam" and had "changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared" for his trip to Russia, raising fears he planned "to join unspecified underground groups," the FBI said on its website.
Tsarnaev, a legal resident of the U.S., flew to Russia in January 2012 and returned in July, said two law enforcement officials briefed on his travel.
The FBI never followed up on the older brother's activities after his trip abroad because it closed its inquiry in 2011, the law enforcement official said.
Upon his visit two years ago to his homeland in Russia's predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region, the older brother, who hadn't been religious as a child, became more deeply involved in Islam, his aunt, Patimat Suleimanova, told reporters in Makhachkala, Dagestan.
"He would have happily stayed here," said Suleimanova, 62. "Then this would've never happened and he wouldn't have died."
The older brother was under FBI surveillance for at least three years, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the suspects' mother, said in a phone interview with the Russian state television broadcaster RT from Makhachkala, in the southern Russian region of Dagestan.
The FBI, explaining the investigation it closed, said it "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," according to the statement. "The FBI also interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members. The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011."
After finishing its review of Tsarnaev in 2011 with no indication of suspicious activities, the FBI requested more information and details from the Russian intelligence service about what prompted the warning. They received no response, the statement said.
McCaul first expressed concern about the circumstances of the FBI's contact Tsarnaev in an April 19 on CNN.
"If he was on the radar and they let him out of their sights, then that's an issue, certainly, for me," McCaul said April 19 on CNN.
Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and former FBI agent who is chairman of the House Intelligence committee, said he wasn't certain there was a lapse. "That case was closed prior to his travel. I don't think they missed anything," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
The two brothers displayed an amateurish modus operandi, failing to disguise themselves from cameras, suggesting they were motivated by feelings of social alienation as immigrants in the U.S., said Philip Mudd, a former CIA deputy director in the agency's Counterterrorist Center.
"They didn't have an after-action plan," Mudd said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" program today. "This looks more to me like Columbine than it does like Al-Qaeda," Mudd said on "Fox News Sunday," referring to the 1999 high school shootings in Columbine, Colorado, by two teenage boys that killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounding 21.
Federal charges will be filed against Tsarnaev "in the coming days," Christina Sterling, a spokeswoman for Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said April 19.
At the Obama administration's direction, police weren't reading Tsarnaev the Miranda warning that gives suspects a chance to consult a lawyer before answering questions, according to a Justice Department official. The administration is invoking a public-safety exception that allows limited questioning before those rights are conferred.
"All of the information that I have is they acted alone, these two individuals," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said.
Federal Public Defender Miriam Conrad, whose office provides indigent criminal defense for individuals charged with federal crimes in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, said that her office will represent Dzhokhar Tsarnaev once charges are filed.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured after a manhunt that had much of the Boston area in lockdown on April 19. He was found hiding in a boat stored behind a Watertown home. He had escaped during a gun battle the previous night with police in the same Boston suburb, during which more than 200 rounds of ammunition were fired and the suspects hurled explosive devices at police.
During confrontations with the brothers that first erupted after 10:30 p.m. on April 18, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer was killed and a transit police officer seriously wounded. In the first showdown with police in Watertown, the older Tsarnaev stepped out of their stolen car and was shot, according to one official. With Tamerlan Tsarnaev wounded and on the ground, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev moved to escape the scene. He ran over his brother with the car in the process, the official said.
The dead brother had explosives strapped to his body when killed, according to two federal law enforcement officials. That increased concerns about the type of weaponry the younger Tsarnaev might be carrying.
Authorities have begun exploring the backgrounds of the suspects who, according to the uncle in Maryland, immigrated to the U.S. in 2003.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan, and brother Tamerlan was born in Russia, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter. The brothers are ethnic Chechens, said their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Gaithersburg, Md.
The younger brother became a naturalized U.S. citizen on Sept. 11, 2012, according to an official briefed on the matter who asked not to be identified because the probe is in progress.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a legal permanent U.S. resident, was arrested in 2009 on an assault and battery charge and wasn't convicted, according to Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County, Mass., district attorney.
A profile attributed to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the Russian social networking site V kontakte lists "career and money" as his personal priority and Islam as his world view.
Syrian Conflict A video posted April 9 on his page called "For those who have a heart" is about the Syrian civil war.
"They're killing your brothers and sisters without any reason, just because they say 'our god is Allah' and 'Mohammed is our prophet," it says, asking people to help the Syrians.
The Tsarnaev brothers and their two sisters came to the U.S. from the Russian region of Dagestan in 2002, after having been refugees from the central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan. They followed their parents, who had been granted political asylum in the U.S., said a State Department official who asked not to be identified to discuss the case.
Even after the brothers were captured, some Boston-area residents were still rattled by the violence. Steven Mey of Watertown decided to buy a gun to protect himself.
"I felt totally inadequate," said the 50-year-old computer repairman, who lives with his wife, two teenage children and mother-in-law. "All I had was a baseball bat." "He could have been hiding in my shed in the back," Mey said as he requested a firearms application at the Watertown Police Department. "What could I do?"