Goodlatte vows to improve intelligence sharing post-Boston

One of the suspects in the Boston bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was flagged by Russian authorities over possible ties to Islamist groups in 2011. Tsarnaev, then a legal resident in the U.S., was interviewed by the FBI, but the investigation was dropped and the agency was unaware of a subsequent trip he took to Russia in 2012. During the visit, he reportedly traveled to regions known as hotbeds of jihadist activity.

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified to senators that her department knew about Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia but said the FBI had closed its investigation before his return home.

Questions about information sharing between the FBI and intelligence agencies first arose after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but the “lone wolf” nature of the Boston suspects and possible missed red flags have lawmakers vowing to revisit the issue.

 “We are also hearing that the Department of Homeland Security had different information than the FBI. They were not apparently sharing that information so the FBI according to what we now understand did not know that he was in Russia for six months and did not follow up upon his return,” Goodlatte said. 

“All of these things lead to more questions about what needs to be done to make sure these types of things don’t happen in the future and most importantly what kind of information sharing and follow through all of our law enforcement agencies are exercising,” he added.

Goodlatte said that while local and federal law enforcement did a “great job” apprehending the suspects after the bombings, which killed three people and wounded scores more, “it’s more important to prevent these things.”

The Virginia lawmaker also said investigators were looking into reports that the two suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died after a shootout with police and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in custody, may have been radicalized by a Muslim convert known as “Misha.”

“This is new information and it’s important that we have the appropriate authorities check that out,” he said. “If there are people fomenting this type of activity in the United States than we want to know who they are and hold them accountable.”