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.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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