The FBI is to face questions in the US Congress over whether they mishandled information about Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The security officials will brief the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing, after some lawmakers accused the FBI of failing to act on Russian concerns.
Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was questioned in 2011 amid claims he had adopted radical Islam.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a manhunt after the attack but his wounded brother Dzhokhar has been charged over the bombings.
Federal prosecutors charged Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in hospital with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. He could be sentenced to death if convicted on either count.
Anonymous officials have told US media that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said he and his brother had planned the attack themselves without help from foreign militants.
The officials say his written answers from his hospital bed to investigators’ questions lead them to believe that the Tsarnaev brothers were motivated by jihadist ideology and that they devised the bombings using the internet.
However, the sources also said the interviews were preliminary and they must verify the defendant’s responses.
The FBI is to face questions in the US Congress over whether they mishandled information about Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev
Both Tsarnaev brothers had origins in the troubled, predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya in southern Russia. They had been living in the US for about a decade at the time of the attack.
The twin bombs which exploded near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 200.
Of those injured, 13 lost limbs. More than 50 people remain in hospital, three of them in a critical condition.
Members of Congress want to know why no further action was taken after Tamerlan Tsarnaev was investigated in 2011 at the request of the Russian government.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the intelligence committee, said that she and her colleagues would have to “sort it out” when they met FBI officials later on Tuesday.
The full Senate is expected to receive a briefing later in the week.
The FBI has defended itself, saying in a statement on Friday that it had run checks on the suspect but found no evidence of terrorist activity.
A request to Russia for further information to justify more rigorous checks went unanswered, and an interview by agents with Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his family also revealed nothing suspicious.
However, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham questioned why the FBI was unable to identify him as a threat based on his alleged links to radical websites.
He called for better co-operation with Russia and the amendment of privacy laws to allow closer scrutiny of suspects’ internet activity.
Senator Lindsey Graham added that the US authorities did not know Tamerlan Tsarnaev had gone to Russia in 2012 because his name was misspelled in travel documents.
The suspect spent six months in Dagestan, another mainly Muslim Russian republic bordering Chechnya. During the visit, he also reportedly spent two days in Chechnya itself.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during the police manhunt last Friday. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured later that day and remains in hospital with serious injuries.
A 10-page criminal complaint was filed against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Monday during a court hearing held around his hospital bed.
According to a transcript of the hearing, he managed to speak once despite a gunshot wound to his throat sustained during his capture.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said the word “no” when asked if he could afford a lawyer. Otherwise he nodded in response to Judge Marianne Bowler’s questions from his bed at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The next hearing in his case has been scheduled for the end of May.
The complaint seeks to locate both suspects at the scene of the bombing and then pieces together the operation to intercept them three days later, as they allegedly drove a hijacked car near the city, hours after images of their faces were broadcast by the media.
No mention is made of their possible reasons for attacking the marathon.
US Congress questions for the FBI:
- Why was no further action taken after the 2011 investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev?
- Why Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not identified as a threat based on links to radical websites?
- Why were the authorities unaware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s visit to Russia in 2012?
An FBI agent was pulled off the investigation into David Petraeus’s illicit contact with Paula Broadwell when he reportedly became obsessed with Jill Kelley, the other woman involved in the probe, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The FBI found that the agent had sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who reportedly received a half dozen emails from Paula Broadwell that warned her to stay away from David Petraeus. The emails were sent from anonymous accounts.
That same agent was a friend of Jill Kelley’s and he had started the FBI investigation into the emails – which eventually led to David Petraeus’s downfall – after Kelley came to him for help upon receiving the anonymous threats.
The FBI declined to identify the agent, who is now under an internal investigation by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
After Jill Kelley, a married mother of three, told the agent about the emails, he referred the matter to a cyber crimes unit.
Shortly thereafter, the agent was barred from the case over concerns that he “might have grown obsessed with the matter”, the Wall Street Journal reports.
An FBI agent was pulled off the investigation into David Petraeus’s illicit contact with Paula Broadwell when he reportedly became obsessed with Jill Kelley
Even after he was prohibited from involvement in the case, the agent decided to contact a member of Congress, Republican David Reichert, about the matter.
He complained that senior FBI officials were going to “sweep the matter under the rug”, the FBI learned.
Meanwhile, investigators had traced the harassing emails back to accounts used by Paula Broadwell, a 40-year-old married mother of two from Charlotte, North Carolina. In one of the emails, Paula Broadwell accused Jill Kelley of touching “him” underneath a table and another email asked if Kelley’s husband was aware of her actions, according to the newspaper.
Jill Kelley, 37, is a volunteer who organizes social events for military families in the Tampa area. She often hosts the events at her million-dollar Bayshore Boulevard home, which is located only a couple miles from MacDill Air Force base, where David Petraeus was leader of the U.S. Central Command.
“The Kelley mansion became the place to be seen for coalition officers,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Jill Kelley’s husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, is a highly sought-after surgeon who specializes in a rare type of minimally invasive surgery to cure cancer of the esophagus.
Since the Kelleys have been in Tampa, one or both have been subjects of lawsuits nine times – including an $11,000 judgment against them that originated in Pennsylvania, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
FBI has arrested a man near the US Capitol building as part of an anti-terror investigation, US officials say.
Amine El Khalifi, 29, of Alexandria, Virginia was taken into custody by the FBI.
Officials told US media the man thought he was heading to carry out a suicide attack on the Washington DC building, home to the US Congress.
El Khalifi was “closely and carefully monitored” for weeks, according to the FBI and US Capitol police.
Authorities say the public was never in any danger.
El Khalifi allegedly thought undercover FBI agents he was working with were members of the al-Qaeda network.
However, he was not believed to have any known existing connections to al-Qaeda, officials said.
FBI has arrested a man near the US Capitol building as part of an anti-terror investigation
El Khalifi was said to have overstayed a visitor visa for years, and was under investigation for more than a year, according to the Associated Press news agency.
He carried a vest he thought was packed with explosives, reports said, but had in fact been supplied and made harmless by undercover agents.
“Explosives the suspect allegedly sought to use in connection with the plot had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public,” a spokesman for the US Justice Department said.
El Khalifi was not arrested on the Capitol grounds and had been under surveillance for several weeks, AP reported.
US law enforcement officials routinely carry out sting operations in an effort to stop potential terror suspects.
In one of the most recent incidents, in September 2011, 26-year-old US citizen Rezwan Ferdaus was arrested for allegedly plotting to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol building.