Heat on FBI over Boston tragedy

Cleaning up the bomb scene in Boston.
Cleaning up the bomb scene in Boston.

BOSTON — US security officials are to face questions in Congress over whether they mishandled information about Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

They will brief the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing, after some Congress members accused the FBI of failing to act on Russian concerns.

Tsarnaev was questioned in 2011 amid claims he had adopted radical Islam.

He was killed in a manhunt after the attack but his wounded brother Dzhokhar has been charged over the bombings.

Federal prosecutors charged him in hospital with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. He could be sentenced to death if convicted on either count.

Both men had origins in the troubled, predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya in southern Russia. They had been living in the US for about a decade at the time of the attack.

The twin bombs which exploded near the finishing line of the marathon killed three people and injured more than 200.

Of those injured, 13 lost limbs. More than 50 people remain in hospital, three of them in a critical condition.

No evidence

Members of Congress want to know why no further action was taken after Tamerlan Tsarnaev was investigated in 2011 at the request of the Russian government.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the intelligence committee, said that she and her colleagues would have to “sort it out” when they met FBI officials.

The full Senate is expected to receive a briefing later in the week.

The FBI has defended itself, saying in a statement on Friday that it ran checks on the suspect but found no evidence of terrorist activity.

A request to Russia for more information to justify more rigorous checks went unanswered, and an interview by agents with Tsarnaev and his family also revealed nothing suspicious.

But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham questioned why the FBI was unable to identify him as a threat based on his alleged links to radical websites.

He called for better co-operation with Russia and the amendment of privacy laws to allow closer scrutiny of suspects’ Internet activity. (BBC)

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