WASHINGTON — The FBI did not tell Boston police about the 2011 Russian warning about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers accused in the Boston Marathon bombing, the city’s police chief told the first public congressional hearing on the terrorist attack Thursday.
Police Commissioner Edward Davis said that, although some of his officers worked with the FBI on a joint terrorism task force, they did not know about the Russian tip or the bureau’s subsequent inquiry, which involved an interview with Tsarnaev and his parents.
Had his department learned about the tip, “we would certainly look at the individual,” Davis told the House Homeland Security Committee. He noted that FBI officers had found no evidence of a crime and closed the case.
Davis said he could not say whether he would have reached a different conclusion, but that his officers would “absolutely” have taken a second look at Tsarnaev.
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Speaking with reporters during a break in the hearing, Davis praised the FBI but said it was important to examine the failure to share the Russian warning, which said Tsarnaev had changed drastically, embraced radical Islam and wanted to travel to Russia to connect with underground groups.
“I’m not ready to vilify anyone at this point in time, but there are questions that need to be answered,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to the review of what occurred so we can get to the bottom of a lot of different questions.”
Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a former federal counterterrorism prosecutor, said he was concerned a decision not to share information among different agencies — widely blamed for the failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — might have been a factor in the Boston bombings.
“We learned over a decade ago the danger in failing to connect the dots,” McCaul said. “My fear is that the Boston bombers may have succeeded because our system failed. We can and we must do better.”
McCaul said he also had concerns that the “emerging narrative” about the Boston plot “downplays the spread of the global jihadist movement.”
Some Republicans have accused the Obama administration of playing down the threat from radical Islam and of exaggerating the administration’s success in reducing the threat from al-Qaida.
Burial place found for older brother
The body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was entombed in an unknown gravesite Thursday after police said an anonymous person stepped forward to help arrange the secret burial.
The burial ended a weeklong search for a place willing to take Tsarnaev’s body out of Worcester, where his remains had been stored at a funeral home amid protests. In that time, the cities where Tsarnaev lived and died and his mother’s country all refused the remains.
By Thursday, police announced: “As a result of our public appeal for help, a courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased.”
Police in Worcester, about 50 miles west of Boston, didn’t say where the body was taken, only that it was no longer in the city.
Tsarnaev’s burial place is expected to become known with the release of his death certificate.