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Boston bombing report cites information lapses among U.S. agencies

Source: Reuters - Thu, 10 Apr 2014 23:05 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds details from report, background)

By Julia Edwards

WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) - Information that may have intensified U.S. scrutiny of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell through the cracks in communications among U.S. law enforcement agencies and between the United States and Russia, according to a U.S. report released on Thursday.

The report, conducted by inspectors general of various U.S. intelligence agencies, found that the United States was alerted by Russia in 2011 that Tsarnaev might pose a threat. But the case was later closed because the FBI found no link between Tsarnaev and terrorism.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two Chechen brothers who lived in the Boston area, are suspected of planting pressure-cooker bombs near the race's finish line last April 15 in an attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police while he and his brother were trying to flee Boston several days after the attack. His younger brother is awaiting trial on charges that could lead to the death penalty if he is convicted.

After receiving information from Russia in March 2011 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an adherent of radical Islam, the FBI sent two letters to Russian intelligence officials requesting more information.

The report "found no documentation or other information that the Russian intelligence agency responded to either letter prior to the bombings."

The inspectors general report also found that the FBI agent tasked with assessing Tsarnaev's threat to national security did not contact local law enforcement, visit the mosque he attended, or interview the suspect's wife or friends.

The report, on which members of Congress were briefed on Thursday, was conducted by inspectors general of the CIA and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The agencies recommended that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security clarify their procedures in investigating terrorism.

The report also recommended that the FBI establish a procedure for sharing information about potential threats with local and state law enforcement partners.

A similar recommendation came out of a report on the bombing that was issued in late March by the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, which said a "greater sharing of information might have altered the course of events."

(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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