What Did the Russians Know and When Did They Know It?
by Rick Moran
The mystery surrounding the Tsarnaev brothers’ ties to Russia is deepening, even as President Obama called Prime Minister Putin to offer thanks for their “close cooperation” in catching the suspects.
We know that Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Dagestan, Russia — a region bordering Chechnya and a hot bed of extremism — for six months in 2012. We also know that prior to that trip, the Russians requested the FBI look into Tamerlan’s background to see if there were any ties to terrorists. The FBI investigated but found nothing.
What happened when Tamerlan returned from his Russian trip? The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, said on Meet the Press that there were limits to Russia’s “cooperation” in vetting the elder Tsarnaev:
The New York Times reports that the Russians “had something on him and were concerned about him, and him traveling to their region.”
What did the Russians “have on him”? How much info did they share? Evidently not enough to keep the FBI interested in him:
njc17 posted last week to the effect that the US government screwed up; my response was that that was possible, but that I’d like to see evidence of that before affirming that conclusion. Well, this is at least one area of this investigation that might reveal such evidence.
Lots of open questions! Probably the key question would be, “Why were the Russians interested in Tsarnaev?” If the concern was barely moderate, and the FBI didn’t find anything to stimulate greater interest, that could explain the Russians’ apparent subsequent silence and the FBI not following up. OTOH, it is possible that what the FBI learned served the Russians’ purposes to follow up on their end, they didn’t care to keep the US government informed, the US government was less than excited about investigating possible Muslim terrorists, and the FBI let Tsarnaev slide. And there’s a fair amount of possibility-territory between those two fairly realistic possible scenarios. Several Congress members - some Ds among them, at this point - are telling the FBI they have some ‘splainin’ to do; it’ll be interesting (and potentially suggestive!) to see if the Obama Administration goes into Stonewall Mode on this.
Edit: PJMedia is, of course, a Conservative New Media site, but per this previous PJMedia article, the initial source of the Russia-FBI story is CBS News. So the story can’t be written off as purely right-wing-conspiracy-theory-ism.