Report: Saudi Arabia Warned U.S. About Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 10:56 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Saudi Arabia last year sent the Department of Homeland Security a written warning about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombings, according to an online report published Wednesday.

The British-based MailOnline claimed it interviewed a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.

The unidentified official allegedly told MailOnline the warning was based on human intelligence developed in Yemen and was separate from the information Russian law enforcement officials gave to their American counterparts in 2011.

The warning “was very specific,” and indicated that “something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,” the website quoted official as saying, adding that it “did name Tamerlan specifically” although it did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.

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A Homeland Security official, however, denied the claim. “DHS has no knowledge of any communication from the Saudi government regarding information on the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing prior to the attack,” MailOnline said.

A spokesperson for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden, echoed that view, telling MailOnline that “We and other relevant U.S. government agencies have no record of such a letter being received.”

MailOnline claimed that another DHS official said he had heard of the Saudi communication and that an aide to a Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee speculated that it was “possible the Department of Homeland Security received the information from the Saudi government but never passed it on to the White House.”

The Saudi official to whom MailOnline spoke apparently suggested that the Saudi Ministry of Interior sent the letter as a precautionary measure, saying, “With Saudi Arabia it’s always code red. There’s no code orange, or code yellow. Always red.”

The official also said the Saudi government denied an entry visa to Tamerlan in December 2011, when he apparently wanted to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.


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