April 21st, 2013
10:50 AM ET
2 years ago

House Homeland Security chairman believes suspect trained in Russia

(CNN) – House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said Sunday he believes Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects, received training during an extended trip to the Chechen region of Russia in 2012.

McCaul also questioned why the FBI did not take further action against Tsarnaev when he was investigated before his trip.

“I personally believe this man received training when he was over there and he radicalized from 2010 to the present,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In 2011 the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev at the request of Russian authorities, according to a senior U.S. official. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died this week after a late-night shoot-out with police. His younger brother, the other suspect, is in federal custody.

McCaul and fellow Republican Rep. Peter King, the former House committee chairman, prepared a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder, seeking details about their questioning, a GOP congressional source said Saturday.

Following his interview with the FBI, Tsarnaev traveled to Russia for six months and returned in July 2012. The Tsarnaev family originally hails from the Russian republic of Chechnya and fled the brutal wars there in the 1990s. Tsarnaev's father currently resides in Dagestan.

After Tsarnaev came back, he created a YouTube channel with links to a number of videos–two of which were tagged under a category labeled "Terrorists" and were deleted. It's not clear when or by whom.

“If he was on the radar and they let him go–he's on the Russians' radar–why wasn't a flag put on him, some sort of customs flag? I've done this before. You put a customs flag up on the individual coming in and out. And I’d like to know what intelligence of Russia has on him as well. I would suspect that they may have monitored him when he was in Russia,” McCaul told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Analysis of his social media accounts and interviews with his family members suggest Tsarnaev became increasingly radical in the last three or four years. But so far, there is no evidence of active association with international jihadist groups.

His uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Maryland, told CNN Saturday that he believed Tsarnaev’s radicalization began in 2009 by a friend and recent convert to Islam in the Boston area who Tsnarni says "brainwashed” Tsarnaev.

“I’d suggest this is when it started. This started, all I hear, when I heard on news yesterday it says its radicalization started 2010. No it’s not 2010. It started 2009. And it started right there in Cambridge… The seed was planted there. He didn’t bring it from Dagestan. Using Chechnya is irrelevant at all because they have nothing to do with Chechnya.”

A group of North Caucasus rebels in Dagestan have denied any link to the Boston bombing, according to a statement on a website used by the rebels who call themselves 'Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate Province of Dagestan.'

McCaul also argued Tsarnaev was already being radicalized before he went to Russia but maintained his ties to Chechnya could be a strong factor. He said Chechen rebels have had links with Al Qaeda in the past and are considered "some of the fiercest jihadist warriors out there."

The types of explosives that Tsarnaev and his brother are believed to have used last week were similar to weapons used by Al Qaeda, McCaul said.

“I think the larger question right now–If I’m a U.S. attorney is how is - is there more to this cell? Is it just these two or should I cast a wider net to see if anyone else is out there that may be tied to the cell in the United States?”

– CNN's Dana Bash, Elise Labott, and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. Anonymas

    SeEMS to me that a lot of mistakes w er made i f we would wake up and realize that there out to kill americans because they cant get there on freakin country civilized americans are dumb asses i seen a picture on tv whith a pressure cooker on the stove behind one of the suspects mbd

    April 21, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Matt

    These two M u s l i m s killed Americans and then partied.

    April 21, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. John Schwartze

    FBI really fell asleep at the wheel here. Russians flag the guy, FBI sends a couple of noobs to talk to him, he tells them he's a good guy, they file a report and go home while he goes on a rampage.Nice.

    April 21, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. rasPutin

    So, the US supported the 'mujahedin' against Russia, and we got al Queada and the Taliban.
    So, the US supports the Chechens against Russia, and we get the Boston Bombers.

    I suggest we don't reflexively support people who hate Russia, just because they hate Russia.

    April 21, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. ronjayaz

    "McCaul also questioned why the FBI did not take further action against Tsarnaev when he was investigated before his trip." Here we go again. U have a suspect & U let him go, Just another example of how unprotected we are as citizens. The protectors are either incompetent or not doing their job.

    April 21, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Desperate GOP

    McCaul is so certain that he wasn't radicalized here in the US. If he believes that, then how can he think that the FBI dropped the ball when they investigated him and found nothing? The FBI does not have jurisdiction overseas.

    April 21, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. Anthony in California

    @Robert I dont see any Liberals blaming Republicans...
    But Republicans trying to make this Obama's "9-11" (after they failed to do so with Benghazi) is just laughable.
    Politics at its finest.
    All the while, Boston residents(you know.. the ones who were actually effected) chant U-S-A, U-S-A, Partisan hacks and ticker commenters bicker over why the FBI did not apprehend 2 brothers whom at the time where found to have done nothing wrong... those same Republicans who want smaller Government and NO background checks for gun buyers.

    But hey, maybe those checks might've prevented one of these guys from getting a gun. Not to mention the gun the slain officer was carrying did him very little good as well. According to some of these NRA nuts, if the whole community was armed, theyd have all been protected and safe and we'd have caught and killed these guys with no problems...

    yeah...

    April 21, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. paul

    And you mark my words... the suspect's families know much, much more than they are letting on. Even as they are confronted with video evidence, still photos, police chases, etc., they still adamantly deny the suspect's involvement (aunt: "show me evidence..." Jesus Christ almighty...). I promise you that this state of denial runs back to when their radicalization began to surface. This goes for the passionate Uncle as well; he saw this coming, hence the intra-family "rift," hence his anger. I'm not saying that he, or any of them knew specifics, but they saw this coming, closed their eyes, and hoped for all of it to pass.

    April 21, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Mike365

    We were asked to hold judgement since there was a 0.1% chance that Islamists may not have done it. Well, we now know who did it.

    April 21, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. DrillsAnnouncedOverLoudSpeakers

    Too many holes. Bomb search drills were going on before the explosions. They denied that there were. Real terrorists blow themselves up one the mission is done and they are cornered, they don't rob stores , highjack cars and tell the victims"Yah, we did it!". Police can say anything when they are the only witnesses. Obama called them guilty before a trial!? Yes, he did. No specifics as to where the kid was shot. Story has more changed a couple of times.As a side note, even low end terrorists could have pulled of more damage with smaller explosives, pressure cookers in backpacks that small? Possibly...
    So, when the government answers all of these and more questions during the trial that this kid probably wasn't supposed have made it to, conspiracy theorists will stop having doubts.

    April 21, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. JSpinelli

    more political bs

    April 21, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. PD Gupta

    Days after her nomination as the vice presidential candidate in 2008, Sarah Palin traveled to the region in a show of her party’s support for the rebels against Russian authorities just because she thought that one can see Russia from her home in Alaska. Now it is John McCain and his buddies in the US senate who are crying foul against the FBI and Obama administration without considering the fact that the family of these two brothers came to the US as a refugee with blessings from the Bush administration. Republican party officials in Washington DC have been engaged in pure politics since April 15, 2013 and that is a shame for the future of this country.

    April 21, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Holdthe Profanityfool

    Immigration reform. But why? This Boston bombing is only another example of assimilation gone wrong... (I know, I know, just look it up okay?) Look up 'sarcasm' and 'satire' too while you're at it.

    April 21, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. desilva

    he is no phyco , look at his upbringing , there are nothing America done to him hate America.
    So why he started to hate America and kill innocent people.
    There are involved with somebody or groups , catch them and sent them to hell pls.

    April 21, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Stuart

    I'd like to know how McCaul came to this conclusion. I personally believe that if the Republicans made this elected official the House Homeland Security chair than we have a real problem from whom we elect. This is obviously a political ploy matching the "reds under our beds" tales of the 1950's. This elected official has made this calculated decision using tried and true Republican tactic of destroy the opposition when they have no knowledge. They have jumped to conclusions of a request from a foreign government who is paranoid about its citizens and visitors. Talk about who is paranoid here but a powerful congressman from a party of paranoid officials like McCarthy.

    April 21, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. ctiggs

    this was not an attack on america, just a random act of terror

    April 21, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Desperate GOP

    If this is some greater conspiracy, then we should feel optimistic. What organized entity has an escape plan that involves a boat that isn't even in the water?

    April 21, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. apey_lady

    You don't have Russia flagging him because it all started here. There are far more radical muslims in Russia as they've been fighting the indigenous ethnicities that reside there for quite some time.

    April 21, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. spk

    I would say this official is speculating
    and is throwing out, if not misinformation
    then unsubstantiated information
    is this the way a person in his position should act?

    this is all about him (McCaul)

    April 21, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Knowledge seeker

    The UK Mirror has an article not found in US media and states the our FBI is tracking down a twelve person cell. Tried to post the link to this thread and CMM suppressed it. Let's tell the US what we think they should know.

    April 21, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. CRG

    There is always an effort by politicians and their ignorant supporters to politicize everything. Innocent people died here and others were terribly maimed. This is an ongonig problem in other countries such as Iraq. This is not a political problem, it's a problem of evil, an evil promolgated by these same politicians and their counterparts around the world who don't give a rat's ass about the victims. The internet is a fine thing as is the abilitiy of people to comment online. Unfortunately, it makes me sad and disillusioned about my fellow Americans.

    April 21, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Nikolai Grigorev

    There is nothing wrong the US government officials did in letting these two young men into the United States. There are thousands others from all over the world who gets this privilege to study in the States. And this is a gesture of good will. But something went wrong with these two and nobody will ever understand why. Two young men have got influenced by someone or by something. A normal human being from any country, from any religion will not be able to take to his conscience a death of the 8-yrs old child and live with it. No human can! But there are evil among us and lost souls ... like another american kid who killed ppl in the movie theater not so long ago. Terrorism has no nationality...

    April 21, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Joe

    The leader said we can't jump to conclusions and judge a group by the actions of a few. He is right. Unless it is about guns, then our rights should be trampled in response to the actions of a few.

    April 21, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Poo Dunk

    Yes, and in the news Palin said, "There is not terrorist if they not done them." And furthermore she said, "What did that do for those there." Yes, not understanding Palin since long time ago Charley.

    April 21, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  25. us_1776

    Could have gone to Russia and then to Pakistan then back to Russia and finally back to U.S.

    .

    April 21, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
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