Boston Suspect Discussed Jihad With his Mother

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 28 2013 12:20 PM

Russia Recorded Boston Bombing Suspect Discussing Jihad With his Mother Over the Phone

167532889
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (center) looks on while Anzor Tsarnaev speaks at a news conference

Photo by Sergey Rassulov/Getty Images

Another mystery revealed. We finally know what led Russian authorities to warn the U.S. government about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing. Russia secretly recorded two phone calls involving the suspect’s mother. In one of them, Tsarnaev “briefly discussed jihad with his mother,” reports the Associated Press, which was the first to break the story. In the other, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, Tamerlan’s mother, was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who was already under investigation by the FBI in an unrelated case.

Intelligence officials have also come across text messages in which the mother discussed how Tamerlan is ready to die for Islam, according to two Newsday sources.

Advertisement

The FBI has only learned about these phone calls, which never discussed specific plans nor attacks within the United States, after the bombings. In 2011, all Russian authorities said was they were concerned the mother-son duo had become religious extremists. The FBI requested more information after interviewing Tamerlan but received no further cooperation from Russian officials, who later went to the CIA with the same information. The mother and son were placed in late 2011 on the Terror Identities Datamart Environment database, a low-level watch list that contains some half-a-million names.

Now the question is whether the FBI or the CIA would have taken the warnings more seriously had they known about the recorded phone calls. “Would we have gone farther?” a law enforcement official tells the New York Times. “Maybe, maybe not.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 18 2014 6:00 AM All Shook Up My 11-year-old has been exploring herself with my “back massager.” Should I stop her?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?