Missed Cues and Clerical Errors Allowed Tamerlan Tsarnaev to Slip By U.S. Authorities

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, left, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were suspects 1 and 2 in the Boston bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, left, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were suspects 1 and 2 in the Boston bombing. Bob Leonard/AP file photo

According to a congressional report prepared for the House Homeland Security Committee, and reviewed by NBC News, the Russian government warned American authorities about Tamerlan Tsarnaev more than a year and a half before he participated in the Boston Marathon bombings last April.

A series of missed cues and clerical errors led authorities to miss several opportunities to detain Tsarnaev as he traveled between the U.S. and Dagestan. At one point:

Tsarnaev was supposed to be pulled aside for questioning at JFK airport because he was considered potentially armed and dangerous, but he slipped through undetected because someone had misspelled his last name in a security database.

The FBI opened an investigation of Tsarnaev in 2011, but it did not meet standards necessary to allow for surveillance. His name was put on a “Hot List” that would trigger an alert whenever he entered or left the country.

The name was misspelled “Tsarnayev,” and on one instance when the alert was triggered, Tsarnaev was just one of nearly 100 Hot List names going through JFK airport that day. He was not deemed high priority and not pulled aside.

The document also links the older Tsarnaev to the murders of three individuals found with their throats cut in September 2011 in Waltham, Mass. Tsarnaev’s possible connection to the murders was first reported by BuzzFeed six days after the bombing. An associate of Tsarnaev who was shot and killed by an FBI agent in the wake of the bombings was supposedly about to sign a statement implicating both of them in the triple homicide.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.