FBI did not inform Boston Police of Russian intel on Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Suspect number 1. SOURCE: FBI.gov

The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not inform the Boston Police of the bureau’s 2011 investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev nor the warnings they received from Russian intelligence of Tsarnaev’s alleged ties to violent extremists prior to the Boston Marathon bombings.

“We were not, in fact, informed of that particular development,” Davis told lawmakers on May 9th.

Testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis confirmed that prior to the bombings four members of his department – three detectives and one sergeant – assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) were not notified by the FBI of:

1. The Russian intelligence received by the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s alleged links to religious extremists;

2. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Dagestan in 2012, of which the FBI did not appear to be aware although the Department of Homeland Security’s system did “ping” when Tsarnaev returned to the U.S.;

3. The radical jihadist videos uploaded by Tamerlan Tsarnaev on YouTube.

“We were not aware of the two brothers – we were not aware of Tamerlan’s activities,” said Davis. “The information started to come in immediately upon our identification of Mr. Tamerlan, of the older brother on the morning of the Watertown arrest. So the shootout occurred late in the evening on Thursday into Friday. And Friday in the early morning hours, we started to get information about the identity of the individuals.”

When Rep. Michael McCaul asked whether Davis would have liked to have known about those facts before the bombings, the police commissioner responded, “In hindsight, certainly.”

Had the FBI informed shared the information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Police would have “certainly looked at the information” and would have given Tamerlan Tsarnaev a second look.

However, Davis indicated that it’s “very hard to say” whether Boston police would have done anything differently.

“I can’t say that I would have come to a different conclusion based upon the information that was known at that particular time,” said Davis.

The FBI’s Boston office issued a statement last week pointing out that Boston Police had “representatives assigned to the JTTF squad that conducted the 2011 assessment” Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in shootout with police in Watertown on April 18th.

Furthermore, the Tsarnaev assessment – along with the approximately 1,000 assessments conducted by the Boston JTTF in 2011 – was documented in the Guardian database, which allows local, state, and federal law enforcement officers to search for, analyze, and be “fully informed” of threats that may affect Boston and the state, according to Rick DesLauriers, the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI. According to DesLauriers, the Boston Police officers assigned to the JTTF were trained to use and have access to the Guardian database containing the FBI’s assessment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

A day after his testimony, Davis issued a joint statement with DesLauriers emphasizing the “unprecedented” cooperation and collaboration between the FBI and Boston Police.

“In light of recent media reports, the FBI and BPD want to ensure the public and community members that our agencies have long had – and continue to have – a close, strong and effective partnership…While some have questioned the level of cooperation and information sharing between our two agencies, question asking should not be confused with a reasonable evaluation of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter,” Davis and DesLauriers wrote. “During the bombing investigation, an enormous amount of information and intelligence was fully shared, and that sharing resulted in the identification and apprehension of two individuals within 101 hours of the attack on the Boston Marathon. That information sharing was reflective of our long-standing collaboration. As stated on several occasions, one team – one fight.”

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