Rep. Cohen: Russians Could Have 'Offed' Tsarnaev

Image: Rep. Cohen: Russians Could Have 'Offed' Tsarnaev

Friday, 14 Jun 2013 01:25 PM

By Dan Weil

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Russian authorities probably would have killed suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev if the FBI had let them know he was returning to Russia last year, says Rep. Steve Cohen.

At least that is what the Tennessee Democrat told FBI Director Robert Mueller during a congressional hearing on Thursday. He said Russian intelligence officials suggested to him two weeks ago that would have been the case, The Hill reports

"The impression I got -- this is a big leap -- but they said that if they would have known, if you would have followed up and they would have known he was coming back to Dagestan, that possibly the Boston Marathon bombing would not have occurred," he said.

"I presume that means they'd have offed him, which would have been great."

Mueller said the FBI didn't alert Russia about Tamerlan returning to Dagestan "because we did not pick that up."

An FBI task force began investigating Tsarnaev in 2011 and received information in 2012 that he had left the United States, Mueller said. But the task force didn't do anything with that information because the case on him had already been closed.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the National Security Agency surveillance controversy, Michael Daly of The Daily Beast wrote earlier this week that "one person whose privacy was not invaded by U.S. intelligence was Tamerlan Tsarnaev because he repeatedly visited the al-Qaida online magazine Inspire for its recipe 'Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.'"

Intelligence service databases failed to alert law enforcement officials about Tsarnaev's interest in building a bomb even after Russian intelligence asked the FBI to investigate him.

"In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, investigators did not fail to note similarities between those devices and the one described in Inspire," Daly wrote.

"But the first solid intelligence specifically linking Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the magazine’s recipe came not from Big Brother but from his little brother, Dzhokhar, when he was interviewed by agents after allegedly helping to carry out the attack.

"The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety," Daly added, noting that if the NSA's surveillance efforts had caught Tsarnaev before the bombing, the nation would have been spared the controversy over the program.


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