NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Congressional leaders were demanding answers Sunday, saying the FBI should have done a better job in sharing information about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the rhetoric came day after it was revealed that suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev discussed jihad in phone conversations.
Standing in Times Square Sunday, Schumer, who is often a staunch supporter of federal agencies, said there are serious questions now about what the FBI knew about the Tsarnaev brothers before the deadly bombings and ensuing reign of terror.
“They may have messed up, because Russia did call and say they have doubts about Tsarnaev. The FBI interviewed him, but then he went to Russia. And when he came back, he immediately started placing on his website very inflammatory items about jihad,” Schumer told reporters including 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck on Sunday. “Foreign country says ‘this person’s dangerous.’ They interview him, as they should, they found nothing. He then goes back to his homeland and immediately on coming back puts all this inflammatory stuff on his website. It seems pretty logical that the FBI should have interviewed him again.”
Schumer also said the Russian government should have ramped up its monitoring of Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he was in Russia.
“Russia wants to cooperate with us in terrorism, that cooperation’s got to be a little better,” said Schumer.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an ardent reader of jihadist websites and extremist propaganda, officials have said. He frequently looked at extremist sites, including Inspire magazine, an English-language online publication produced by al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.
“I want to know why when Tsarnaev came back from Russia, given that he was on a watchlist and given that we were alerted by a foreign country that he might be dangerous and he seems to have taken a radical turn, why he wasn’t interviewed at the very least again,” said the senior senator.
Schumer has called for federal hearings into the matter to determine what the FBI knew and did not know about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before they allegedly carried out the twin bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon earlier this month.
Schumer is not alone in his criticism, which is coming from both sides of the aisle in Congress.
“How could you miss the fact that the guy you were, you were informed by a foreign intelligence service you have a radical in your midst?” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “We can’t track him to Russia. We lose him going to Russia and coming back as far as an interview. And when he goes on the internet for the whole world to see to interact with the radical Islamic websites, how do we miss that?”
On Sunday’s “Meet The Press,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called the Boston bombings an “absolute failure” of intelligence.
“The FBI did an outstanding job in solving this,” said King on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “Fact is, there were other items in his file.”
Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, officials said Saturday. The revelation came days after the U.S. government finally received details about the call.
In another conversation, the mother was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, officials said.
The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, they might have been enough evidence for the FBI to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family.
“I think there’s a connection there,” said U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas.) “I think (Tsarnaev’s mother) played a very strong role in his radicalization process. I believe she is a person of interest, if not a subject. I do believe if she comes into the United States, she will be detained for questioning.”
The mother is in southern Russia, with no plans to travel to the U.S. She denies she or her sons were involved in terrorism.
But Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers and Zubeidat’s former brother-in-law, said Saturday he believes the mother had a “big-time influence” as her older son increasingly embraced his Muslim faith and decided to quit boxing and school.
Also in Russia, the suspected bombers’ father Anzor, who claimed his sons were framed, now says he is hospitalized and is not coming to the U.S. to see the younger son and bury the older one.
Meanwhile, federal investigators are revealing more about the suspected bombers’ remaining explosives — all pipe bombs — and their plans to travel to New York City for a final act or showdown.
“It does appear that they were getting ready to kind of make some kind of last stand, and if you could go to New York and set off your bombs in the media capital of the world, that sounds like a model,” said CBS News Correspondent John Miller.
Another focus of the investigation continues to be a man named Misha, who investigators said may have helped radicalize Tamerlan Tsarnaev. But the man’s full name and whereabouts remained a mystery Sunday night, Carlin reported.
Bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was recovering at a military lockup as of Sunday. He has now decided to retain an attorney and remain silent after being read his Miranda rights.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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