Congressman: Marathon bombings ‘could have been avoided’

Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Credit: Getty Images
Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15.
Credit: Getty Images

A Massachusetts congressman said the Boston Marathon bombings could have been prevented, if U.S officials had acted on warnings about one of the suspects.

During a fact-finding mission in Moscow, Rep. William Keating told the Boston Globe that agents from the Russian ­Federal Security Service showed him specific intelligence that bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev planned to join an Islamic insurgency in Dagestan.

Keating said the information he saw — which had been given to the FBI and CIA before the bombings — included names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other data about people Tsarnaev had been in contact with.

“You can see with the level of these details that in fact if we had had better information sharing, there’s a very strong chance that things could have changed, and [the bombings] could have been avoided,” ­Keating told the Globe.

Tsarnaev, a native of Chechnya, spent six months in Dagestan in 2011. His parents now live in the region of southern Russia.

The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev that same year, at the request of Russian authorities who were concerned that Tsarnaev may have been radicalized.

After a three-month investigation, authorities determined that there was no cause for alarm about Tsarnaev, who was added to a counterterrorism database.

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis testified that federal authorities did not share information about Tsarnaev with local law enforcement, despite the existence of a Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The FBI and CIA did not respond to the Globe’s request for comment, but an unnamed U.S. intelligence official told the newspaper Thursday, “We have no dispute with Rep. Keating’s characterizations of the Russian-provided information in their memo.”

Keating is among the U.S. lawmakers visiting Russia to learn more about what was known about Tsarnaev prior to the April 15 bombings, which killed three people and injured 264 others.

Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, are also suspected of killing MIT police officer Sean Collier on April 18. That same night, the older Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured the next day and faces terrorism charges.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos



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