Saturday, April 27, 2013

Joseph Kishore: Questions mount about Boston bombers’ links to US intelligence agencies

Questions mount about Boston bombers’ links to US intelligence agencies
By Joseph Kishore
World Socialist Web Site

Information coming to light about the background of the Boston Marathon bombings raises many questions about the relationship of US intelligence agencies to the alleged bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

It is now clear that the older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a police shootout in the early morning hours of April 19, was well known to both the FBI and the CIA.

The following account can be pieced together from what has emerged so far:

After first denying any knowledge of Tsarnaev, the FBI has now admitted that it received a request in March 2011 from Russia to investigate him, due to Russia’s concerns that he might be connected with terrorist organizations active in Chechnya and the Caucasus region. He was added to the Treasury Enforcement and Communication System database to monitor past and future flight travel. The FBI claims that it found no relevant information on Tamerlan and reported this to Russia.

This was not the end of the matter, however. Six months later, in late September 2011, the Russian government contacted the CIA with a similar request, evidently unsatisfied with the FBI’s response.

The CIA requested that Tamerlan’s name be put on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database, maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center. TIDE is the US government’s central database on alleged “international terrorists,” from which other US intelligence databases are compiled, including the FBI’s “no-fly” list.

According to a US government official cited by ABC News, the CIA also “shared the information with the appropriate federal departments and agencies specifying that Tsarnaev may be of interest to them.”

In January 2012, less than four months later, Tsarnaev was able to get on a plane to southern Russia. According to US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, this meant that the TIDE database was “pinged,” alerting the US Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the FBI, the Secret Service and other agencies, of his movement.

Yet Tsarnaev was able to return to the United States in July 2012 without incident.

Little has been said so far about what Tsarnaev did on his trip. However, according to a report on NBC News, “A police official source in Makhachkala, Dagestan… [said] that the Russian internal security service reached out to the FBI last November [2012] with some questions about Tamerlan, and handed over a copy of case file on him.

“During routine surveillance of an individual known to be involved in the militant Islamic underground movement, the police witnessed Tamerlan meet the latter at a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala, the police official said. It was one of six times in total that surveillance officials witnessed Tsarnaev meeting this militant at the same mosque, according to the police official.

“The militant contact later disappeared, the police official said, but so did Tsarnaev before investigators had a chance to speak with him. The FBI never responded, according to the Dagestani police official.”

In other words, the FBI was warned about Tsarnaev both before and after his trip to Russia in the first half of 2012. The most recent warning was received only six months before the Boston bombings.

This account is supported by statements of Senator Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. After secret hearings held Tuesday, Burr told reporters that there were “multiple contacts” between the US and Russia over Tsarnaev, including “at least once since October 2011”—i.e., after the request submitted to the CIA in September 2011.

The government and media are scrambling to contain exposure of the significance of these revelations. The hearings conducted by Congress are being held behind closed doors, outside of the sight of the American people.

The new narrative that is being developed to explain the extraordinary facts that have emerged is simply not credible. According to government officials, “balls were dropped” and there was a failure to “connect the dots.” If dots were not connected, who failed to connect them?

As in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, there is an effort to ensure that absolutely no one is held accountable. There is a reason for this. If anyone was held responsible, they would seek to defend themselves, and that would lead to further questions that officials are eager to avoid.

The government seems particularly anxious to conclude that the two Tsarnaev brothers acted entirely on they own, a claim that is belied by the facts that have come out about Tamerlan so far. The convenience of this claim is that it directs attention away from examining the connections of these two individuals, including their relations with US intelligence agencies.

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