Terror Ties

The Russian government gave a “heads up” to U.S. officials in 2011 about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The Russians warned he could be involved with Chechen terrorist organizations.

Did U.S. terrorism experts fail again to connect the dots?

That should be among the first questions asked by those investigating the killing spree allegedly committed by two brothers who raised suspicions among Russian authorities more than two years ago.

Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were born in southern Russia but their family came to Massachusetts in 2002. From that time, they lived their lives as average Americans-going to high school, college, getting jobs, etc. Then, for some reason, last Monday, they allegedly detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding about 180 others, many gravely.

On Thursday, they executed an MIT security officer and as police closed in, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a violent shootout. His 19-year-old brother escaped and in one of the biggest manhunts in U.S. history, was captured Friday evening. He is now in a Boston hospital being treated from wounds and, according to news reports, is cooperating with authorities.

The Tsarnaev family is from the Chechen region of Russia, home to one of the most vicious terrorist organizations in the world. Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited there in January 2012.

About a year before that mysterious trip, Russian officials asked the FBI for information on him. U.S. agents interviewed Tsarnaev family members and told the Russians they could find no reason for concern.

Clearly, there was.

Russian authorities must have had some reason for contacting the FBI. They didn’t just draw Tsarnaev’s name out of a hat. And, possibly, had U.S. officials paid closer attention, they would have seen the ominous Internet posts and links to militant Islamic sites Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been studying since his return to America.

Obviously, the question why FBI officials did not pursue more information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev after their initial interview with him should be high on the agenda of this investigation. If this is another case of a terrorist attack that could have been prevented, Americans need to know that.