FBI Interviewed Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Two Years Ago

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 20 2013 1:30 AM

FBI Interviewed Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Two Years Ago

Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Tamerlan Tsarnaev (right) with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (left)

Photo provided by FBI via Getty Images

The FBI confirmed Friday evening that it interviewed Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, at the request of “a foreign government.” According to an official FBI statement, the unnamed foreign government said it had information that Tsarnaev “was a follower of radical Islam” and may have planned to leave the U.S. to join an underground group.

The key portion of the FBI’s statement is below.

Once the FBI learned the identities of the two brothers today, the FBI reviewed its records and determined that in early 2011, a foreign government asked the FBI for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.
In response to this 2011 request, the FBI checked U.S. government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history. The FBI also interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members. The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011. The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government.
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Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.