Boston bombing suspect was on terrorism database

The CIA has confirmed it wanted one of the Boston bombing suspects placed on a terrorist database 18 months ago.

The agency had the elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnev added to the TIDE database after Russian authorities raised concerns about his activities and alerted their US counterparts.

Two officials said the CIA added his name to a terrorism database, called TIDE, that feeds into watch lists like the one used to keep terrorists off planes. The Russians contacted the FBI about him earlier that year. The FBI conducted an investigation and did not find he had any terror connections.

Conflicting stories appeared to emerge about which US agencies knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s six-month trip to Russia last year and how they handled it.

The confusion prompted criticism that failure to share intelligence may have contributed to the bombing last week, despite an overhaul of the intelligence system after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee on immigration legislation that her agency knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s journey to his homeland.

But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the FBI “told me they had no knowledge of him leaving or coming back”.

It has also emerged that the bombs used in the attacks were triggered by a remote detonator of the kind used in remote-controlled toys, US officials have said.

Investigators found pieces of the remote-control equipment among the debris and are analysing them.

One of the officials described the detonator as “close-controlled” – meaning it had to be triggered within several blocks of the bombs.

A criminal complaint outlining federal charges against the surviving bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, described him as holding a mobile phone in his hand minutes before the first explosion. Mobiles have been used to trigger bombings in war zones.

The older of the two brothers, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police last week. His 19-year-old brother remains in hospital and is being questioned over his role in the attacks.

Two US officials said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed when police captured him hiding inside a boat in a Boston neighbourhood back yard. Authorities originally said they exchanged gunfire with the suspect for more than one hour on Friday evening before they were able to subdue him.

The officials said investigators recovered a 9mm handgun believed to have been used by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, from the site of a gun battle on Thursday night, which injured a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer. Dzhokhar was believed to have been shot before he escaped.

The officials said no gun was found in the boat. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat.

US officials said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told interrogators he and his brother were angry about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Investigators travelled to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan in southern Russia and were in contact with the brothers’ parents, hoping to learn more about their motives.

Investigators are looking into whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who spent six months in Russia’s turbulent Caucasus region last year, was influenced by the religious extremists who have waged an insurgency against Russian forces in the area for years. The brothers have roots in Dagestan and neighbouring Chechnya, but had lived in the US for about a decade.

Their parents, Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, plan to fly to the United States, the father was quoted as telling the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The family has said it wants to bring the older brother’s body back to Russia.

More than 4,000 mourners, including Vice President Joe Biden, paid their respects yesterday to Sean Collier, 26, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who authorities said was shot by the Tsarnaev brothers three days after the bombings.

Funerals were held on Tuesday for Collier and eight-year-old Martin Richard. Martin, the youngest of those killed by blasts near the marathon finish line, was laid to rest after a family funeral mass.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s condition was upgraded from serious to fair on Tuesday as investigators continued building their case against him.

He could face the death penalty after being charged with joining forces with his brother in setting off shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs.

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