Special anti-terrorism intelligence units in Massachusetts were not even alerted that FBI agents had investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s possible terror ties in 2011, the Boston Globe reports.
The Boston Regional Intelligence Center and the Commonwealth Fusion Center in Maynard, where information about potential security threats are analyzed, were both unaware that the FBI had interviewed Tsarnaev during its three month investigation triggered by warnings from the Russian government about his radical Islamic ties.
David Procopio, the spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, which oversees the Fusion Center, told the Globe the FBI didn’t share the information with the anti-terror centers.
“We were not privy to the tip,” he said.
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Without that information, the Fusion Center was never in a position to help federal authorities connect the dots on a potentially dangerous person. They could not evaluate the relevance of Tsarnaev’s six-month trip to Russia in 2012; assess whether his potentially extremist views may have further hardened after he returned to his home in Cambridge; or decide whether authorities needed to interview him again.
Even if the FBI had informed the center of its inquiry, state officials would probably not have put Tsarnaev under additional scrutiny, Procopio added, because the FBI had determined he did not pose a threat.
Yet Procopio acknowledged that local law enforcement might have responded differently immediately after the April 15 attack, when officials were scrambling to identify Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, from surveillance images captured near the site of the twin bombings.
A spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department said the Boston Regional Intelligence Center also was never notified about the FBI investigation.
The FBI is now claiming that state and local officials had open access to information about the 2011 Tsarnaev investigation through their participation in a Boston FBI unit called the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“Many state and local departments directly involved and affected by the Boston Marathon investigation have representatives who are full-time members of the JTTF and who have the same unrestricted access to information and government databases as their FBI colleagues,’’ FBI supervisory Agent Jason Pack said in a statement. “State and local JTTF representatives were assigned to the squad that conducted the 2011 assessment.’’
“As evidence of poor coordination and sharing of information among key security agencies continues to build, the White House has launched an internal investigation of the handling of the Tsarnaev case that will focus on weaknesses in the nation’s system of tracking suspected terrorists,” the Globe adds.
Read the Boston Globe’s full report here.