Report: Boston bombing suspect on terror watch list

Langley requested Tsarnaev be placed on a watch list run by the National Counterterrorism Center after Russian intelligence contacted CIA about a recent trip to the country in 2011. 

ADVERTISEMENT
He remained on the terror watch list for nearly a year, until he and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, planted two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last week, according to the Washington Post

The elder Tsarnaev died after a violent shootout with federal agents and local police last Friday.

The younger brother, was charged Monday with using a weapn of mass destruction to kill three people and injure more than 200 during the Boston attack. 

Moscow contacted CIA and FBI about the 2011 trip out of concern Tsarnaev could have made contact with militant Islamic groups while visiting Dagestan in southern Russia. 

Agency officials made the request to put the older Tsarnaev on the watch list months after the FBI closed the investigation into his trip, according to the Post. 

“There was a concern he might have some kind of ties to terrorism,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told the Post on Wednesday. 

“We did everything legally that we could do with the little bit of information we had. After we did, we found no derogatory information," he added. 

Known as Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, list, the database allows counterterrorism officials to track a series of government watch lists, including the FBI’s main Terrorist Screening Database and the Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly” list, in one location. 

Wednesday's disclosure comes as Congress is pressing Justice, Homeland Security and intelligence officials on whether any intelligence on the Tsarnaev brothers was missed, due to miscommunication between the agencies. 

"Well he was on a TIDE list which is terrorism watch list. Either way his name should have popped up," House Homeland Security chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told MSNBC on Wednesday. 

"I wouldn't say this is a comedy of errors but there have been a lot of information of clerical errors that prevented that information," he added.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also voiced his concerns about the possible lack of information sharing among U.S. law enforcement agencies before the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I have concerns about what agencies knew what and the fact that it wasn’t shared,” Boehner told reporters, “But I think our committees in the coming days and weeks are going to get to the bottom of this."

Turf battles between the FBI, CIA and others in the intelligence community contributed to missed intelligence ahead of the 9/11 attacks.

While coordination between the two entities has improved over the years, it remains unclear if interagency rivalries or other factors prevented U.S. counterterrorism officials from uncovering key clues that may have predicted the attack. 

The notion that the older Tsarnaev may have been radicalized by Islamic militants in Russia has also raised concerns on Capitol Hill over "lone wolf" terrorists. 

Lone wolf operatives — individuals who have been influenced by but have no direct link to al Qaeda and other terror groups, have long been a concern for lawmakers dealing with intelligence.

“It [is] a small group of people that will come in under the [intelligence] radar. And why there’s a concern about that is that when you’re under the radar, we can’t get the intelligence we would normally get,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) told CNN on Tuesday.

That said, lawmakers pushing for greater authority for CIA and U.S. intelligence agencies to track those kinds of threats.

“I would be willing to consider it … but I would have to know specifically” what kinds of authorities the intelligence community would need, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also said he would back efforts to allow the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to track potential lone wolf suspects on American soil.

But those abilities would have to be “consistent with some pretty clear law about the role of [intelligence] in domestic situations.”

--Updated at 6:05pm