Did They Really Act On Their Own? During his initial interrogation, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly said that he and his brother Tamerlan acted alone, motivated by anger over America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that they learned how to construct their bombs online. Officials have disclosed no evidence to the contrary, but there are hints of a more complex plot. By some accounts, their bomb detonators–exploded via remote controllers for toy cars–required a sophistication that the Tsarnaev brothers didn’t otherwise show when, for instance, they failed to wear disguises to the marathon site, or when they carelessly allowed a hostage to escape. “There was some outside counsel to these individuals on how to build and how to detonate,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Fox News last week, although a national security source also told Fox that the toy-car detonator is not a known al Qaeda technique.
Meanwhile, investigators continue to explore a six-month trip Tamerlan took to Russia last year, and whether he met with Islamist rebels in the country’s troubled republic of Dagestan. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul suggested to NBC yesterday that the Tsarnaev brothers might have had a foreign “trainer”: “And the question is, where is that trainer or trainers?” McCaul asked. “Are they overseas in the Chechen region or are they in the United States?”
How Much Does Vladimir Putin Know? Some lawmakers believe the Russian government is being coy about its intelligence on the Tsarnaev family. “I think they do know more than they’re telling us,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN yesterday. Those suspicions have hardly been allayed by this weekend’s revelation that Russia informed U.S. officials only recently about recorded phone conversations, including one in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, discussed “jihad.”
Those conversations were the basis for the warning by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago. After the FBI’s three-month investigation sounded no alarms, however, Russia didn’t respond to the bureau’s request for more information.
“There’s got to be a basis for why [Russia] went up on her electronically or why they went up on one of her affiliates or associates,” Schiff told CNN, referring to Tsarnaev’s mother. “We haven’t received that information from the Russians.” It’s possible Russia is worried about exposing its intelligence operations. It’s also possible the Russians just don’t like to share with us. As Rogers noted on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, “You have to remember the FSB is a hostile service to the FBI and the CIA.”