The Conversation

Tamerlan Tsarnaev Was on Terrorist Watch List

Reuters is reporting that sources close to the Boston Marathon bombing say Tamerlan Tsarnaev was listed on the government's "highly classified" database of potential terrorists. "But the list is so vast that this did not mean authorities automatically kept close tabs on him." 

The sources said Tamerlan Tsarnaev's details were entered into TIDE, a database maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, because the FBI spoke to him in 2011 while investigating a Russian tip-off that he had become a follower of radical Islamists.

The database holds more than a half million names, "although they represented about 450,000 actual people, because some of the entries are aliases or different name spellings for the same person."

But Tsarnaev was not put on the "no fly" list nor put on the Selectee List, which requires additional airport security. 

After being put in the TIDE system, his name was entered in another database, this one maintained by the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection bureau which is used to screen people crossing U.S. land borders and entering at airports or by sea.

However, because the FBI had not found Tsarnaev to be a threat, when he returned from his trip to Russia he had already been "downgraded" and did not get extra scrutiny upon re-entry to the U.S. 

If, in fact, the US knew Tsarnaev was on his way to Russia, did we warn the Russians (as they warned us) that he was on his way over there? 

Yesterday there were two closed door hearings involving the FBI's handling of the matter. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano confirmed that government was aware Tsarnaev had left the country. 


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