The federal government added the name of the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect to a terrorist database 18 months before the deadly explosions, US officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
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The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, only recently recruited him to be part of the attack, two US officials said. The CIA, however, named Tamerlan to a terrorist database 18 months ago, officials said Wednesday, an acknowledgment that will undoubtedly prompt congressional inquiry about whether investigators took warnings from Russian intelligence officials seriously enough.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Photo: AP Photo/The Lowell Sun, Julia Malakie)
Meanwhile, US officials said Wednesday that an FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston was alerted when Tamerlan traveled to Russia.
They added that Russia, which had tipped off the FBI about its concerns over Tamerlan in early 2011 and asked the agency to look into him, made a second, identical request to the CIA in late September 2011.
As a result, a US intelligence official said, the CIA "nominated" Tsarnaev's name for inclusion on a government watchlist known as TIDE.
Boston Marathon Bombing (Photo: Reuters)
It remains far from clear that either the alert to the FBI or Russia's previously unreported contact with the CIA could have helped uncover a plot that ultimately killed four people and injured more than 200 in Boston.
But some lawmakers are questioning whether US security agencies had properly shared information in the case.
Tamerlan, whom authorities have described as the driving force behind the plot, was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar is recovering in a hospital from injuries sustained during a getaway attempt.
Authorities had previously said Dzhokhar exchanged gunfire with them for more than an hour Friday night before they captured him inside a boat covered by a tarp in a suburban Boston neighborhood backyard. But two US officials said Wednesday that he was unarmed when captured, raising questions about the gunfire and how he was injured.
Investigators have said the brothers, Russian-born ethnic Chechens, appeared to have been radicalized through jihadist materials on the Internet and have found no evidence tying them to a terrorist group.
The suspects' parents, Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, plan to fly to the US from Russia on Thursday, the father was quoted as telling the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The family has said it wants to take Tamerlan's body back to Russia.
In Russia, US investigators traveled to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan and were in contact with the brothers' parents, hoping to gain more information.
Investigators are looking into whether Tamerlan, who spent six months in Russia's turbulent Caucasus region in 2012, was influenced by the religious extremists who have waged an insurgency against Russian forces in the area for years. The brothers have roots in Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya but had lived in the US for about a decade.
The two bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding 264, were detonated with the kind of remote device used to control a toy car, US investigators told a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday.
"It was a remote control for toy cars," US Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters after officials from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and National Center for Counterterrorism briefed the committee.
"Which says to me, and brother number two has said, they got the information on how to build the bomb from Inspire magazine," Ruppersberger added.
Inspire was created by the American-Yemeni preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen who was killed in a US drone strike.
Ruppersberger said the article on bomb-building in Inspire was headlined: "How to build a bomb in your mom's kitchen."
Yitzhak Benhorin, AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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