Russia warned FBI about bomb suspect

2013-04-20 20:30
Investigators work near the location where the previous night a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was arrested. (Matt Rourke, AP)

Investigators work near the location where the previous night a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was arrested. (Matt Rourke, AP)

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Washington - Russia asked the FBI to investigate Boston Marathon bomb suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, a US law enforcement source said on Saturday.

The FBI said on Friday that its interview of Tsarnaev, following a tip from a foreign government two years ago, and checks of travel records, internet activity and personal associations, "did not find any terrorism activity" at that time.

Tsarnaev, 26, was killed on Thursday in a shootout with police and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured late on Friday after daylong manhunt.

The two brothers who grew up in America, fit the profile of a new generation of jihadists who are radicalised online and strike in their home countries.

The motivations of men remain unclear, US President Barack Obama said shortly after the second brother was captured on Friday.

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"Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence?" Obama asked.

"How did they plan and carry out these attacks? And did they receive any help? The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers."

Despite the many unknowns, analysts said the brothers' turn to extremism seemed to have been stoked, not by the years of unrest in their native North Caucasus region of Russia, but on the internet.

"The Chechnya issue is less relevant than the radicalisation process," said Seth Jones, associate director of the International Security and Defence Policy Centre at the Rand Corporation, a Washington think tank.

"It seems the issue here is less that they conducted training in camps or not and radicalised in Chechnya, and more that they were involved in a social media radicalisation," he said prior to the arrest of Dzhokhar.

The Tsarnaev brothers, ethnic Chechen Muslims, arrived as refugees in Cambridge, near Boston, with their families around a decade ago, according to family members. Dzhokhar would have only been about 10 years old.

Bayram Balci, a Caucasus region specialist at the Carnegie Endowment think tank in Washington, said the uprooting of young people at an early age can make them more vulnerable to being radicalised in later years.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev had a YouTube page in his name, created in August 2012, where he "favourite" several Islamist videos in a category entitled "terrorism".

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