Rep. William Keating: Russian FSB More Forthcoming than FBI on Boston Bombing

Congressman Bill Keating, holds a press conference at Logan airport upon his return from Russia, June 1, 2013. (Photo by Faith Ninivaggi)

Congressman Bill Keating, holds a press conference at Logan airport upon his return from Russia, June 1, 2013. (Photo by Faith Ninivaggi)

No, Keating didn’t come out and say it exactly like that, but he made it pretty clear yesterday that he has he has gotten just about zero information from the FBI since the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

Keating, who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats of the Foreign Affairs Committee, had just returned from a trip to Russia with a delegation of House members led by California Rep. Dana Rohrbacker. The delegation also included Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn; Steve King, R-Iowa; Paul Cook, R-Calif.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. The purpose of the trip was to

examine some of the apparent gaps in intelligence sharing between the United States and Russia. The Russians had warned the US in 2011 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a potential extremist.

“If there was a distrust, or lack of cooperation because of that distrust, between the Russian intelligence and the FBI, then that needs to be fixed and we will be talking about that,” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who is leading the trip, told ABC News, which first reported details of the trip.

“Our goal is to use Boston as an example, if indeed there was something more, that should’ve been done that wasn’t because of a bad attitude,” Rohrabacher added

Wesley Lowery of the Boston Globe reports that at a press conference at Logan airport after his arrival in Boston Keating noted that:

FBI agents in Boston have yet to provide information about why Tamerlan Tsarnaev was able to move freely in and out of the country after US officials were warned about him, or about the May 22 fatal shooting of one of his friends in Orlando, Representative William R. ­Keating said on Saturday after returning from a trip to Russia to meet with that country’s top intelligence officials.

In contrast, Keating said Russian officials were anxious to be helpful.

Keating said officials with the Russian ­Federal Security Service provided details about how they warned US intelligence agents in 2010 that they believed Tsarnaev was preparing to join a terrorist cell in Dagestan, in southern Russia….[and] said he was impressed with what he saw as the forthcoming nature of the Russian intelligence officials. Meanwhile, he said, FBI officials were absent from Capitol Hill hearings about the bombings.

“We had a hearing on homeland security and [the Boston FBI office] were invited,” Keating said. When asked whether agents from the office had shown up, he responded: “No.”

It doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it?

Meanwhile, the FBI was involved in a fatal shooting of Ibragim Todashev, an important witness who may have had valuable information about the Tsarnaev brothers, the Marathon bombing, and perhaps even a triple murder that took place in Waltham, MA in 2011. Since the shooting, we’ve gotten nothing but obfuscation from the FBI, with anonymous sources leaking contradictory claims about who was present at the shooting and what actually happened. I detailed the various accounts in a post on Thursday.

Keating said he hasn’t been briefed on that by the FBI either, but he did learn from the Russians that they had given Todashev’s name to the U.S. back in April.

Keating said that Ibragim Todashev, the 27-year-old friend of Tsarnaev who was shot and killed by an FBI agent in Orlando on May 22, was mentioned by name in intelligence exchanges between US and Russian officials on April 21. The nature of that citation, he said, remains unclear.

While senior members of the intelligence committee are often given classified briefings on controversial FBI actions, Keating said he has received none from the FBI on the Todashev killing.

A little more on the letter that mentioned Todashev, from The Boston Herald:

Todashev was one of many Russian nationals named in the April 21 letter to U.S. officials, said Keating.

Keating said the missive was not a warning letter about Todashev, but he told the Herald his name came up during intelligence information sharing.

“It was just clear that his name was referenced among others in that letter. It could have been in response to the FBI asking them what they knew,” Keating said, adding it was unclear why Russia shared the information. “We’ll be able to get these letters.”

Keating said he spent more than an hour with Russia’s counterterrorism director and a top deputy at FSB, Russia’s equivalent of the FBI, who both candidly shared information on Tsarnaev, his association with militants and his visit to Russia last year.

“I never thought we’d get that level of information and cooperation from the Russians,” Keating said.

Previously, Keating had learned through private channels that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had had contact with two other islamic “extremists.”

Keating said the staffers discovered — through unofficial, nongovernment sources — that Tamerlan Tsarnaev first came on the radar of the Russian security officials when they started questioning William Plotnikov, a Canadian boxer who was linked with extremist groups in Russia.

The Russians then discovered that Tsarnaev was active on a jihadist website and listed his home in the United States. That led to the initial tip from the Russians, who asked the FBI for more information about Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev later traveled to Dagestan and he met with both Plotnikov, as well as another extremist, Mansur Mukhamed Nidal, according to the findings from the congressional staffers.

Plotnikov and Nidal were later killed in separate skirmishes with the Russians. Tsarnaev left Russia shortly after Plotnikov’s death.

So, to summarize, the information we know about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia has come either from Russian intelligence officials or independent research by Keating staffers. The Russians have reportedly been surprisingly forthcoming and anxious to help.

Meanwhile, we’ve gotten no explanation from the FBI or Homeland Security of how Tsarnaev managed to fly out of JFK airport and back with no alarms being set off–despite the fact that he was on two terrorist watch lists.

Furthermore, the FBI has killed a man who may have had valuable information about Tsarnaev and they refuse to explain the circumstances under which he was killed. Instead they are “investigating” and they say the “investigation” could take months.

What is wrong with this picture?


15 Comments on “Rep. William Keating: Russian FSB More Forthcoming than FBI on Boston Bombing”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’ll be writing more about the corrupt, dysfunctional, secretive FBI soon, because the Whitey Bulger trial begins here in Boston next week and I plan to follow it.

  2. purplefinn says:

    BB, did you already comment on the Nova program “Manhunt—Boston Bombers” ? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/manhunt-boston-bombers.html

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. Fannie says:

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say these two intelligence agencies have a long history of not liking each other, and we all wish we had perfect 20/20 hindsight in this matter. But people knew he was dangerous, and his movements in/out of country should have been unearthed as “dangerous”…………I mean his photo should have been displayed, well all over the post offices. Russian officials said “subject should be considered dangerous”, including his family. John McCain was more sneaky about entering another country, than this guy was.

    BB, thanks for following up, I hope something more is revealed tomorrow.

  5. boogieman7167 says:

    one thing is clear something shifty is going on

  6. NW Luna says:

    Makes the US look bumbling. Nothing like being so secretive the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

    • bostonboomer says:

      People all over the world are asking why we don’t arrest people instead of just shooting them.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I still think the FBI probably tried to use Tamerlan either as an informant or to run a sting operation. Maybe Todashev knew about that.

  7. I have been wondering how Tsarnaev was able to go back and forth so easily, being on one watch list. Now that we find out he was on two? Damn.