Nine months before the Boston Marathon bombing, a U.S. counterterrorism task force received a warning that a suspected militant had returned from a lengthy trip to Russia, U.S. officials said.
The warning was delivered to a single U.S. Customs and Border Protection official assigned to Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a cell of specialists from federal and local law enforcement agencies. The task force was part of a network of multi-agency organizations set up across the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to make sure that clues and tips were shared.
But officials said there is no indication that the unidentified customs officer provided the information to any other members of the task force, including FBI agents who had previously interviewed the militant.
The man whose return from Russia went largely unnoticed was one of the two brothers who would later be accused of carrying out the April 15 bombing that killed three people and injured more than 250 others near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
The apparent failure to alert the FBI has emerged as a significant, if slender, missed opportunity to scrutinize Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s activities ahead of the Boston attack.
The disclosure — one of several to cause lawmakers to express concern about persistent gaps in U.S. counterterrorism procedures — came as U.S. officials revealed that the bombing suspects may have intended to carry out a follow-up attack in New York’s Times Square….
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said during an appearance at a conference in Washington on Thursday that he has seen no evidence that U.S. agencies failed. “The dots were connected,” he said. He also called on the public “not to hyperventilate for a while before we get all the facts.”