May 4, 2013

Terrorism database bloated with names

The government's catch-all list for terrorism suspects has 875,000 records.

By KEN DILANIAN Tribune Washington Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

Katherine Russell, Amato DeLuca, Tamerlan Tsarnaev
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Katherine Russell is facing questions from investigators after an English language magazine produced by al-Qaida was found on her computer.

The Associated Press

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Katherine Russell

INVESTIGATORS FOCUS ON SUSPECT'S WIDOW

Federal law enforcement officials are sharpening their focus on the widow of the dead suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings after finding al-Qaida's Inspire magazine and other radical Islamist material on her computer, according to law enforcement officials.

The probe of the computer belonging to Katherine Russell, 24, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is part of the effort by investigators to determine whether Russell knew anything about the April 15 bombing plot or helped the Tsarnaev brothers hide from authorities, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving suspect, has told investigators that he and his brother learned to build the pressure-cooker bombs from English-language Inspire magazine, and that they were partly influenced by the online sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaida propagandist who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

According to officials, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also told investigators that he and his brother built the bombs in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Cambridge apartment, where the elder brother lived with Russell and their daughter. Officials said that Russell called her husband when she saw his photograph on television but did not notify authorities.

One of the key questions for investigators is whether the radical Islamist materials on Russell's computer belonged to her or were downloaded by her husband or someone else.

Russell's attorney did not return phone calls for a comment. The attorney, Amato DeLuca, has previously said his client played no role in the plot and was shocked to learn of the involvement of the Tsarnaev brothers.

– The Washington Post

Tsarnaev had been interviewed by the FBI based on the same tip from the Russians, however, and his name had been entered correctly into yet another list used by customs officials to track the movements of persons of interest. That list includes about 22 million border crossing records, a counter-terrorism official said.

But since the FBI found no evidence that Tsarnaev was a threat, customs officials did not pull him aside for special questioning when he re-entered the country in July.

Tsarnaev returned to Cambridge, Mass., where authorities allege he and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, planned and carried out the Boston Marathon bombings.

Even if the TIDE entry on Tamerlan Tsarnaev had also popped up, the U.S. intelligence official said, "he's not a selectee, he's not been deemed a threat. I don't know really if they would have given him a second look."

A U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday that Russia's intelligence service believes that while Tsarnaev was in Dagestan he met with militants.

"It looks like there was some interaction," the official said. "It doesn't seem like it was involving logistics or planning." The militants were not working with Tsarnaev, the official added, "because they were focused primarily on the traditional, Russian enemy. There is no evidence of pre-operational planning or training or even that this was a source of his radicalization."

 

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