Lawmakers headed to Russia to seek answers on Boston suspect

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) will lead a bipartisan delegation to Russia next week, in part to seek answers about why warnings about Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev failed to capture the attention of U.S. authorities.

“As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, Mr. Rohrabacher is leading a delegation to Russia to learn more about what transpired surrounding the Boston bombing suspects,” Rohrabacher spokeswoman Tara Setmayer told The Hill in an email.

ADVERTISEMENT
Filling out the group are Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), and Bill Keating (D-Mass.).

Setmayer said the group would also be looking to “foster a good working relationship with Russia in a post Cold War environment,” and would discuss U.S.-Russia cooperation on space programs.

“The Boston bombing is just one aspect of the trip, not the primary,” she said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar are suspected of detonating shrapnel-packed pressure cookers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last month, killing three and wounding more than 200 others.

Tamerlan was killed in a gun fight with police after a harrowing chase that provoked a city-wide shutdown and door-to-door search in the Boston metropolitan area.

Dzohokhar Tsarnaev is in custody and awaiting trial.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months in Russia in 2012, and lawmakers and investigators have sought details about how he became radicalized.

Officials in Moscow flagged Tamerlan as a potential threat after his visit to a volatile region of Russia plagued by Islamic violence.

U.S. customs agents alerted a joint terrorist task force in the Boston-area upon his return to the U.S. from Russia. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation didn’t follow up on the lead because it had already interviewed him before his trip and closed the case after determining he was not a threat.

Last month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the Russians were not cooperating with U.S. attempts to find out more about his time there.

Rogers defended U.S. intelligence agencies, saying that the Russian warnings didn’t adequately communicate the threat level, and that it is difficult to sort through tips from the Russian government because they frequently give incorrect information in an attempt to make life difficult for their political opponents.