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CIA Asked For Tsarnaev To Be Placed On Terrorist Watch List A Year Ago

Agnus Dei Farrant |
April 24, 2013 | 3:46 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect (Associated Press).
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect (Associated Press).
The CIA asked that deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev be added to a primary terrorism watch list more than a year before the attack, after Russian officials contacted U.S. officials with concerns about his radical Islamist views and possible plans to travel abroad, The Washington Post reported. 

Tsarnaev was killed last Friday in Watertown, Mass., after a shootout with police.

The CIA requested Tsarnaev’s name be added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center. 

TIDE has nearly a half-million names and feeds numerous government watch lists, the Post reported, including the FBI’s main Terrorist Screening Database and the Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly” list. 

From the Post: 

The new disclosure suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than previously know to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions as to why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the country after a seven-month trip to Russia last year.

Law enforcement officials said that the request to the FBI in 2011 originated from fears by the Russian government that Tamerlan was a threat to Russia and would commit a terrorist act in Russia -- not the United States. The request came from Russian federal police to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

“There was a concern he might have some kind of ties to terrorism,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. “We did everything legally that we could do with the little bit of information we had. After we did, we found no derogatory information.”

Officials told the Post that Tsarnaev’s name was added to the database but it’s unclear which agency did so. 

NBC News reported that U.S. agents were alerted when Tsarnaev flew to Moscow last January. Authorities took no action because the FBI interviewed him at the request of the Russian government and found no sign of terrorist activity, officials told NBC News.

From NBC News

The officials said Russia asked for information about Tsarnaev twice in 2011, once early in the year from the FBI and once in September from the CIA, because the Russians said they had reason to believe he was becoming a radical.

When the FBI turned up nothing after the first request, it asked Russia for further information, but Russia never supplied it, the officials said. The FBI asked again after the September request to the CIA, and Russia again failed to respond, they said.

According to NBC News, the system “pinged” when Tsarnaev flew to Moscow, meaning it alerted federal agents. The “pings” are common, an official said, and a federal agent may receive between 30 and 40 per day. 

“Without a tool to cut down on the number of false positives, the FBI would be chasing its tail if it tried to deeply investigate anyone who even remotely ‘pings’ the system,” said Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News terrorism analyst and former consultant to the FBI and Defense Department. “There just aren’t enough FBI agents and analysts to accomplish that task.”


Read more of Neon Tommy’s coverage on the Boston bombing here.

Reach Executive Producer Agnus Dei Farrant here.



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