The referral of Tsarnaev to the FBI was likely tainted by incredulity, as the Kremlin will happily persecute and accuse anyone seen as an enemy of the state even if they’re as harmless as a human-rights activist.
But the revelations in the Webster report about how “political sensitivities” played into a scant investigation of one terrorist should surface in determining whether this time the FBI “dropped the ball,” as lawmakers are describing the dismissal of the Chechen immigrant’s extremism after following up on Russia’s tip and interviewing Tsarnaev in 2011.
Senate Intelligence Committee members learned today that Russia delivered not one but “multiple” warnings that Tsarnaev was a radical Islamist preparing to head overseas to join with an illicit group.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano even contradicted Graham’s source at a hearing on the immigration bill today, saying there was indeed notification when the elder Tsarnaev brother hopped a flight to Russia.
“The system pinged when he was leaving the United States. By the time he returned, all investigations had been — the matter had been closed,” she said.
“Is it true that his identity document did not match his airline ticket? And if so, why did TSA miss the discrepancy?” asked Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
“There was a mismatch there,” Napolitano said. “By the way, the bill will help with this because it requires that passports be electronically readable, as opposed to having to be manually input. It really does a good job of getting human error, to the extent it exists, out of the process. But even under — even with the misspelling, under our current system, there are redundancies, and so the system did ping when he was leaving the United States.”
She clarified later in the hearing to Graham that the FBI alert on Tsarnaev upon his return “was more than a year old and had expired.”
“The point I’m trying to make is after having talked to the FBI, they told me they had no knowledge of him leaving or coming back. The name was misspelled,” Graham said. “…And when we say there was no broader plot here, I just don’t know how in the world we know that at this early stage.”
The House and Senate Intelligence committees received a closed-door briefing from the FBI today about agents’ questioning of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the 19-year-old’s hospital bed. The surviving suspect’s condition was upgraded today from serious to fair.
“I’ll be honest, it is not clear even after the interview of the suspect in custody has been conducted, it’s still not clear exactly why they did this,” committee member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told CNN afterward. “…There are lots of inconsistencies that the FBI is going to have to ferret out.”
“You have a young man who’s coming and going with respect to the sedation that he’s been under and very traumatic experience for any 19-year-old and he’s obviously shown some emotion about his involvement and the facts leading up to this taking place,” he added.
Asked if that “emotion” included feeling sorry for what he’d done, Chambliss said, “I don’t think there’s been any indication of remorse.”
Two days ago, al-Qaeda affiliated Somali terror group Al-Shabaab tweeted that the Boston attack showed the West is oblivious to the “jihadi siren blasts.”
“There is a Nidal Hasan in every sincere Muslims in the West. When their wrath exceeds the tolerable threshold, be worried.”