U.S. House lawmakers said Tuesday they plan to conduct their own Boston bombing investigation, focusing on whether the FBI properly investigated now-deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the twin explosions at the Boston Marathon on April 15.
Tamerlan, 26, and his brother Dzhokar, 19, allegedly set two pressure-cooker bombs that exploded and killed three people and injured more than 180. Tamerlan died in a police shootout last Thursday, and Dzhokhar was later captured and charged with using weapons of mass destruction. Both are from Chechnya but were legally in the U.S.
In preliminary interviews in his hospital bed at Beth Israel Deaconess, Dzhokhar reportedly communicated in writing to investigators that Tamerlan was the brains behind the bombing and that he wanted to defend Islam from attack.
Reports are that Russian officials alerted the United States two years ago about Tamerlan "based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam ... [who] had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to [Russia]," according to an FBI statement. U.S. authorities did an investigation but cleared him.
House Speaker John Boehner told Fox News on Monday that the homeland Security, Judiciary and Intelligence committees will conduct inquiries regarding that investigation.
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“[They will be] determining whether the FBI dropped the ball or didn’t drop the ball,” Boehner said. “There is a fine line: If you’re in America and you have legal status, you are protected by American rights, so it’s a fine line that they have to walk, and we’re going to have to make a determination how well they walked that line.”
The speaker said the FBI is currently gathering its facts on the matter, the details of which will come later.
“We’ve got members of Congress and the American people interested in what the answers were,” Boehner said. “We will get those answers soon enough.”
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has criticized the FBI for failing to prevent the bombings, given that the bureau was informed of Tamerlan’s potential for extremist behavior.
“This is the latest in a series of cases like this ... where the FBI is given information about someone as being a potential terrorist,” King, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said. “They look at them, and then they don’t take action, and then [the subjects of interest] go out and commit murders.”
Boehner said last week’s bombing incident was another “American moment, reminding us that terrorism is something that we are going to live with for a long, long time to come.”