Report: Misspelled Name Let Boston Bomber Slip By Security

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 06:45 AM

By Elliot Jager

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A report documenting missed opportunities authorities had to detain Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev is to be released by the House Homeland Security Committee as early as Thursday, NBC News reported.

The committee, chaired by Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, has compiled an account showing that Russian authorities warned first the FBI and then the CIA that Tsarnaev had ties to violent Muslim militants.

As Tsarnaev was passing through JFK International Airport in New York on his way back to Boston, after six months of terrorist training in Dagestan, he was able to slip through customs because his name was spelled "Tsarnayev," with an extra "y," in a database, according to NBC, which said it reviewed a copy of the report.

Russian intelligence first alerted the FBI about Tsarnaev and his family in March 2011. The Russians provided a dossier that included contact information and known violent associates.

The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev, and his name was entered into a Customs and Border Protection database. The FBI wanted to know whenever he entered or left the country.
Finding no links to terrorism, his file was closed in June 2011.

On Sept. 11, 2011, his boxing sparring partner and two other men were found murdered in Waltham, Mass.. All three victims were Jewish. No one, at the time, questioned Tsarnaev about the killings, though he had described one of the victims to the gym manager as his "best friend."

Also in September 2011, Russian authorities sent a cable to the CIA reiterating the warnings they'd made earlier to the FBI. The CIA alerted the National Counterterrorism Center, Homeland Security, the State Department, and the FBI.

Two possible birth dates and alternate spellings of Tsarnaev's name were supplied.
The National Counterterrorism Center entered Tsarnaev's name into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database – a source for the Customs and Border Protection watch list.

He was described as dangerous and possibly armed.

It was at this point, NBC News reported, that Tsarnaev's name was entered as "Tsarnayev," with an extra "y."

The National Counterterrorism Center instructions to Customs officers were: "Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer at NTC … Call is mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match. Advise the person answering the phone that you have a code tip lookout intercept."

Nevertheless, on Jan. 21, 2012, Tsarnaev sailed through JFK airport and boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. Six months later, having completed his terrorist training, on July 17, 2012, Tsarnaev passed through airport security unhindered, apparently because of the extra "y" in his name.

The bombing took place on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed April 19 in a shootout with police in Watertown, Mass. His brother Dzhokhar was found hiding in a boat nearby later that day. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces federal terrorism charges in connection with the bombing that killed three people.

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