Russia ‘withheld’ intelligence on Tsarnaev, report concludes

US inspector general report showed extent of his radicalisation

Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings of last April 15. Photograph: AP Photos/Lowell Sun and FBI

Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings of last April 15. Photograph: AP Photos/Lowell Sun and FBI


Russia withheld information from US law enforcement officials on one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that could have brought him under closer scrutiny before the April 2013 attack, a report has concluded.

According to the New York Times , a US inspector general report found that the Russian government declined to provide intelligence to the FBI about bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The intelligence showed the extent of his radicalisation as an Islamic jihadist and might have led to a deeper investigation into his activities.

Intelligence failures
The US inspector general’s report into potential intelligence failures in the lead-up to the blasts that killed three and injured more than 260 near the finishing line of the marathon said that Russian officials warned the FBI about a threat from Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen Muslim, in 2011.

The Russians told the FBI in 2011 that Tsarnaev was “a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer”, and that he had “changed radically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups”, the report said.

But Moscow officials declined several requests for further information about Tsarnaev from US law enforcement agencies, which concluded he was a greater threat to Russia than the US.

It was only after the bombing that the Russian authorities shared details of a phone conversation they had intercepted between Tsarnaev and his mother in which they discussed Islamic jihad, according to the inspector general that assesses the work of 17 US government agencies.

First anniversary
The latest findings about Tsarnaev and the investigations into his activities emerge as Boston prepares for the first anniversary of the attack next Tuesday and this year’s marathon on April 21st.

Tsarnaev (26) was killed trying to flee police four days after the bombings. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (20), the only other suspect in the marathon attacks, was captured the following day hiding in a residential area outside Boston after one of the most extensive manhunts in US history.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev over the worst terrorist attack on US soil since the September 11th, 2001, attacks on New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania.

The Tsarnaevs emigrated to the US from Russia as children and grew up in the Boston area. They settled in Cambridge near Boston, with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev becoming more settled in the US than his brother.

The US inspector general has sought to determine whether more could have been done to stop the brothers and to what extent Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a self-radicalised violent extremist or influenced by ethnic Chechens he met in Dagestan in Russia’s North Caucasus region during a visit there in 2012.

The Los Angeles Times reported that less than three months before the bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev sought to change his name at a US government immigration office in the Boston area to “Muaz” in a tribute to a prominent rebel fighter killed by Russian forces in Dagestan in 2009.

Tsarnaev had been nicknamed “Muaz” during his six-month visit to the region in 2012, according to law enforcement officials cited by the newspaper.