Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, says that had information about recently-disclosed communications between accused Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother come out earlier, the results of the FBI’s investigation into Tamerlan in 2011 could have been different.
“There was communications involving the mother where she made it clear that she thought her son was a confirmed jihadist, a confirmed Islamist radical who would be willing to die, certainly who was willing to carry out whatever he was asked to do, and that at least is the tone and the thrust of the communication,” Mr. King said Monday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “Now, exactly what form of communication it is, I don’t know if I’m really at liberty to say that.”
The Associated Press reported this weekend that Russian authorities wiretapped a phone conversation between Tamerlan and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, in which she alluded to jihad and discussed the possibility of her elder son going to Palestine.
That would seem to contradict the mother’s public statements since the Boston attack, in which she said the police were wrong about her boys’ involvement.
The FBI said it repeatedly Russia several years ago for more information about potential ties between Tamerlan Tsarnaeva and terrorist groups, but received no response.
“The fact is there’s no doubt that the mother had made statements like this or had indicated this, the Russians were aware of it, and the Russians did not give it to the FBI back in 2011,” Mr. King continued. “And if they had, I think it would have changed the whole tone of the investigation, and it well could have led to a very different result. And all of us wish the Russians had provided that information to the FBI when the FBI did ask for additional information and the Russians did not respond to them.”
Mr. King said that the two countries are currently cooperating better.
“My understanding is they are,” he said. “The Russians also see this as an opportunity to have America realize the danger of the whole Chechen movements, and I think it serves the Russians’ purposes. However, there’s always going to be a certain level of distrust between U.S. and Russia, between our intelligence agencies and theirs. So they will give us, I think, whatever helps them. They will not give us anything which is going to reveal any of their sources, but they’re certainly being much more forthcoming, and I think both sides see this as an opportunity now, both the United States and Russia, see this as an opportunity to make progress, certainly as far as this case is concerned, but also as far as international terrorism is concerned.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday he didn’t want to get into specifics on information-sharing between the U.S. and Russia, but that the lines of communication are open.
“I can tell you that, obviously, the president has spoken with President [Vladimir] Putin and will continue to have conversations, of course, with his counterpart there as our governments cooperate on this matter and other issues,” Mr. Carney said.