House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Friday ripped Russian intelligence agencies, saying that they withheld information on a suspect that could have been valuable ahead of the Boston Marathon bombing — and he says Russia isn't cooperating in the aftermath, either.
“The Russians I think have a lot more information here than they are sharing today,” Rogers told Fox News. “They’ve kind of let us peek under the curtain a little bit, but it’s very clear to me that they have valuable information that, A, they should have provided earlier, and B, that we need to get now to understand what happened when he went back to Russia.”
The Boston bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, spent six months in Russia in 2012. Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a gun fight with police last Friday during a harrowing chase that provoked a city-wide shutdown and door-to-door search in the Boston metro area. His brother, Dzhokhar, was captured and is facing terrorism charges.
“I think the Russians need to cooperate more than they are now to fully understand those six months, I just don’t think they’re there yet, “ Rogers added.
Lawmakers and investigators are hoping details of his trip will shed light on how Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen boxer, became radicalized to the point of allegedly bombing the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 200 others.
Rogers on Friday said it was difficult for U.S. intelligence agencies to sort through tips from the Russian government, because they frequently give bad information in an attempt to make life difficult for their political opponents.
“Sometimes when working with certain intelligence groups with the Russians, they would give derogatory information about somebody that they politically did not align with, so the FBI had to sort all of that out,” he said. “So they had to take this information with a grain of salt. And they didn’t give them a lot. They didn’t give them a lot of background information on [the suspected bombers].”
The comments come amid reports that a U.S. customs agent alerted a joint terrorist task force in the Boston-area that Tsarnaev had returned to the U.S. from Russia. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation didn’t follow up on the lead because it had already interviewed and investigated him and closed the case after determining he was not a threat.
“Travel alone isn’t a derogatory piece of information,” Rogers said. “The investigation had been completed and closed because nothing more to go on. At that point the Russians had stopped cooperating.”