Boston bombing suspects' mother urged Tamerlan to travel to "Palestine"
In a tapped telephone conversation between one of the Boston bombing suspects and his mother, Russian authorities who secretly recorded the conversation in 2011 have disclosed how the suspect vaguely discussed jihad.
The mother of now-dead bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev discussed the possibility of Tamerlan going to 'Palestine,' but he told his mother he didn't speak the language there, according to the Associate Press, citing officials who reviewed the information Russia shared with the U.S.
In the past week, Russian authorities turned over to the United States information it had on 26-year-old Tamerlan and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva.
The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens who emigrated from southern Russia to the Boston area over the past 11 years.
Even had the FBI received the information from the Russian wiretaps earlier, it's not clear that the government could have prevented the Boston Marathon attack which killed three people.
It was not immediately clear why Russian authorities didn't share more information at the time. It is not unusual for countries, including the U.S., to be cagey with foreign authorities about what intelligence is being collected.
Jim Treacy, the FBI's legal attache in Moscow between 2007 and 2009, said the Russians long asked for U.S. assistance regarding Chechen activity in the United States that might be related to terrorism.
"On any given day, you can get some very good cooperation," Treacy told The Associated Press. "The next you might find yourself totally shut out."
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva has denied that she or her sons were involved in terrorism. She has said she believed her sons have been framed by U.S. authorities.
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.
After receiving the narrow tip from Russia in March 2011, the FBI opened a preliminary investigation into Tamerlan and his mother. But the scope was extremely limited under the FBI's internal procedures.
The father of the Boston bombing suspects, meanwhile, has accused the FBI of “setting up” his sons.
“They just wanted to set up Tamerlan, and Dzhokhar (his brother) just turned out to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Anzor Tsarnaev told the Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda daily last week.
“Tamerlan was driving him to school when they started shooting at them,” he said. “This is a set-up, a political order, a Hollywood show.”
In an earlier interview with the U.S. media, Anzor described Dzhokhar as a “true angel.”
Dzhokhar was captured after a police hunt following the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this month, which left three people dead and 180 injured.
Anzor denied that Tamerlan held radical Islamist views.
“Tamerlan did get religious after getting married. He went to the mosque every Friday. He prayed five times a day. He was a righteous Muslim, and could not have done what he is accused of.”
Dzhokhar “was an A-grade student at Cambridge. He worked as a lifesaver at a pool. He had big plans: to become a doctor, to open a business, to come over here,” Anzor said.
“He said: ‘Dad, don’t worry. I’ll finish studying and come over, I’ll help you.’”