Analysis: Russia Told FBI All It Needed to Know About Boston Bomber

The New York Times revealed Wednesday that “the Russian government declined to provide the F.B.I. with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that would most likely have led to more extensive scrutiny of him at least two years before the attack, according to an inspector general’s report.” 

The Times considers this report to be an “exoneration of the F.B.I.,” after the bureau was harshly criticized for not adequately investigating Tamerlan Tsarnaev before his jihad attack. In reality, however, the report only shows up the Obama FBI’s inadequacies and myopia all the more vividly.

The report, at least as the Times explains it, is actually an attempt to displace blame for the FBI’s dropping the ball on Tsarnaev from the FBI to the Russians. The Times notes that “as part of its investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, F.B.I. agents examined his criminal and educational records and his Internet search history. They also interviewed him, his parents and people at his school. It was after those investigative efforts uncovered little that F.B.I. agents stationed in Moscow went back to the Russian authorities and requested any additional information they had on Mr. Tsarnaev, who immigrated to the United States from Dagestan a little more than a decade ago.”

However, the report reveals, perhaps inadvertently, that the Russians told the FBI all that it really needed to know. It acknowledges that the Russians told the feds that Tamerlan Tsarnaev “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer,” and he “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

Those “underground groups” could in this context only have been a reference to jihad groups. That means the Russians essentially told the FBI that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a jihadi -- and that wasn’t enough for the FBI to keep him under close surveillance? They didn’t pursue watching him and his brother because they hadn’t “found anything substantive that ties them to a terrorist group.” The possibility that they could have pulled off a lone wolf jihad attack apparently didn’t occur to these intel experts.

The FBI clearly failed in this case and bears some responsibility for the Boston bombing, but ultimately the responsibility lies with Barack Obama and John Brennan, who made sure that agents would be abysmally ignorant of Islam and jihad when they scrubbed all mention of both from counter-terror training -- so how could the FBI properly evaluate what the Russians told them?

As I show in my new book Arab Winter Comes to America, Islamic supremacist advocacy groups, many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, demanded in October 2011 that FBI counter-terror trainers (including me) and training materials that referred to Islam and jihad in connection with terrorism be discarded, and agents educated by them be retrained. John Brennan, then the U.S. Homeland Security Advisor and now the director of the CIA, readily agreed in a response letter written on White House stationery -- as if to underscore how seriously the Obama Administration took this demand.

Subsequently, as I detail in the book, politically correct willful ignorance then took hold in our intelligence and law enforcement agencies -- to the extent that after the Boston Marathon bombing, then-FBI director Robert Mueller admitted that the bureau had not investigated the Islamic Society of Boston, where the Tsarnaev brothers attended mosque, and had not even visited it except as part of an “outreach” program -- despite the fact that it was founded by Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who is currently in prison for financing al Qaeda, and was attended by convicted jihad terrorists such as Tarek Mehanna and Aafia Siddiqui.

That fecklessness wasn’t the Russians’ fault. Nor was it the Russians’ fault that the FBI failed to watch the Tsarnaev brothers and stop their jihad attack, no matter what the Russians may have told or not told the bureau. It is not the job of Russia to protect the United States from jihad attack. It is not the job of Russia to do the job of our domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The new inspector general’s report does anything but exonerate the FBI; in fact, it reveals how terribly the bureau has gone astray from its true purpose during the administration of Barack Obama.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In


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