Davis: Feds didn’t tell Boston police about Tamerlan Tsarnaev

boston police ed davis
Boston police Commissioner Ed Davis said local police were kept in the dark about Russian intelligence reports about Tamerlan Tsarnaev for days.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said Thursday that federal authorities did not tell local police about Russian intelligence reports on alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev until days after the deadly blasts. 

During the first congressional hearing on the April 15 bombings, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul asked Davis if he was aware of the Russian intelligence warning and the fact that Tsarnaev had traveled overseas.

“We were not aware of the two brothers’ activities. Were were not aware of Tamerlan’s activities,” Davis said.

McCaul asked a follow-up question.

“Would you have liked to have known that?” McCaul asked.

“Yes,” Davis replied.

The testimony about the lack of sharing of information was troubling, McCaul said.

“The whole point of having a fusion center and the (Joint Terrorism Task Force) is to share information and coordinate,” McCaul said. “The idea the feds have this information and it’s not shared with state and locals defies why we created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place, and it’s very troubling to me.”

Davis gave an opening statement before the committee and said he was “satisfied” with the security preparation in place the day of the marathon. He also talked about ways in which he thought future attacks could be prevented and pointed to engaging the community.

“We certainly need to enlist the community better,” Davis said. “There’s no computer that’s going to spit out a terrorist’s name. It’s the community being involved in the conversation and being appropriately open to communicating with law enforcement when something awry is identified. That really needs to happen and should be our first step.”

When asked if anyone from the mosque that Tsarnaev attended had come forward to police after he was allegedly kicked out of it, Davis said he wasn’t sure. When asked if anyone from UMass Dartmouth had come forward to police to identify student and alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after his picture was released by the FBI, Davis said that no one reached out to police.

Besides community engagement, Davis said there were security means that could help police.

“Do we have to look at cameras? Sure we do. Do we have to look at more bomb dogs? … We do have to do that, and it’s really important,” Davis said.

Also testifying Thursday was Kurt Schwartz, the state’s undersecretary for homeland security and emergency management. He was asked if anyone on the state side was made aware of the Tsarnaev brothers during the bombing investigation or before.

Schwartz said state police had seven troopers assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force with federal authorities.

“My understanding is at no time prior to the bombings did any member of the Massachusetts State Police or the fusion center did have any information or knowledge about the Tsarnaev brothers,” he said.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike


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