Tsarnaev, 26, was killed after a firefight early Friday morning after the police tracked down him and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. They are the only suspects in last week’s Boston Marathon bombing.
Lawmakers have pledged to hold hearings into how the brothers operated under the radar of the FBI after the Russian government notified federal investigators that the older brother was a potential threat. The tip from Russian authorities came after the suspect spent six months in two Russian provinces in 2010 and 2011 before returning to the U.S.
Ruppersberger, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said he hoped to find out what might have influenced the older brother during his time abroad, and how he learned the skills necessary to put together a bomb.
“When he went to Russia, it seemed when he came back a lot of things changed and also his younger brother’s attitude started to change,” Ruppersberger said. “And as more evidence comes out — about when he came back from Russia, did he become more orthodox in his Muslim religion, did that make him change? And one of the things we’re looking at also — when you have these bombs, what kind of sophistication? How were they trained to make the bombs?”
Ruppersberger said reports that cellphones were used to detonate the explosives were troubling, because it indicates a higher degree of sophistication. The Maryland Democrat said it didn’t appear there were any third parties involved, and that the brothers were likely acting as lone wolves, which he said is a more difficult threat for intelligence officials to detect.
“Those of us who have been in the intelligence committee a while have always been concerned about the lone wolf and a lone wolf doesn’t just mean one individual, it means a small group of people that will come in under the radar,” he said. “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.”
“After 9/11 we’re the most sophisticated country in the world as it relates to receiving any intelligence from people or from a technical point of view,” he continued. “If in fact there’s chatter or there’s a big type of plot, we will probably pick it up. But what worries us are the type of situations like the Times Square bomber, the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber, these were all under the radar.”