April 29, 2013

Schumer: Why didn't FBI question Marathon suspect?

Schumer says he'll pursue an answer as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the FBI.

The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Monday said he will question why the FBI didn't interview the older brother suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing when he returned from Russia after six months.

click image to enlarge

This combination of undated file photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Monday said he will question why the FBI didn't interview the older brother suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing when he returned from Russia after six months. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young, File)

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"The FBI has done a great job," Schumer said in an interview. "And until Boston, it was not an accident that we had no successful terrorist events in the United States. They are very good at listening and tracking. But something happened here that I think we have to get to the bottom of."

Schumer told The Associated Press that he'll pursue an answer as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the FBI.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the bureau has briefed Congress and will continue brief lawmakers as necessary.

Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, officials said. In another conversation, the mother was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, officials said.

Either conversation, if known by the FBI, could have been enough to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family. But Russian authorities told the FBI only that they had concerns that Tamerlan and his mother were religious extremists. With no additional information, the FBI conducted a limited inquiry and closed the case in June 2011.

"It's true the Russians were playing a little fast and loose also, because they knew more than they told us," Schumer said Monday. "And had they told us something obviously he would have been interviewed.

"But even without that, it seems to be there were enough questions asked that they should go back," Schumer said. "They are almost always ahead of the curve, they almost always know what's going on before anything bad happens, (and) sometimes they let it play out a little so they can find other leads. So it's a mystery to me."

Earlier Monday, New York Republican Rep. Peter King said the FBI would have carried out a much more intense investigation of two men if the Russians had informed Washington of "the mother's radicalization" and "the son's radicalization." King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told NBC's "Today" show that more cooperation from Russia would "definitely have caused the investigation to go further."

"Immediately, someone should have gone and visited him," Schumer said. "What went wrong in the system?"

 

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