By Houston Chronicle
It’s been over a week since the Boston Marathon bombing, and as more details are released, federal authorities are under fire for failing to act on intelligence that could have prevented the attacks.
So when the State Department failed to send a representative to a House hearing on the subject today,
“American people want answers and so do I,”
Since the attacks, authorities have identified Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the lead suspects. The brothers, ethnic Chechens raised in America, are suspected to belong to a radical jihadist sect, influenced during a trip to Russia. Russian authorities warned the CIA of Tsarnaev’s involvement with radical Islam, prompting the federal government to enter Tamerlan Tsarnaev into the terrorist watch database 18 months before the marathon bombing.
It’s uncertain how and why Tsarnaev was taken out of the database, but he re-entered the country An unidentified U.S. Customs and Border Official is said to have received a warning that Tamerlan had re-entered the country after a trip to Russia, but there is no evidence that the official provided that information to the FBI.
Had the brothers not been caught, the situation could have been even worse. Yesterday, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the brothers were also plotting an attack on Times Square.
Two House subcommittees held a hearing to evaluate the threat of Islamist extremism in Chechnya this morning. The subcommittee invited experts in the field, including Russian Andranik Migranyan, who is the Director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation and an expert on Russia-U.S. relations. Poe said the federal government was invited to send a representative, but declined to do so.
“I’m a little irritated that the State Department is not here. This is an important topic,”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., chairman of the House subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, said it was a shame that the State Department is “too busy” to send a representative to Congress. He applauded the Russian embassy for sending a representative to the hearing.
Migranyan said although the two countries have their differences, Russian President Putin wants to work with America against their common enemy. He said he hopes the events in Boston will alleviate the distrust between the two secret services.
“Unfortunately, the evident remaining distrust between the two countries and the doubts of the American side that Russia is indeed combating Chechen terrorism in the Caucasus must have caused the authorities to not take the warning seriously enough,” Migranyan said.
Poe said a lot of questions are revolving around the older brother, Tamerlan’s, recent trip to Russia. The panel agreed that the Chechen ethnicity doesn’t raise as much of a concern as Tamerlan’s recent trip to Dagestan, a nearby Russian state where Radical Islam is on the rise. Paul Goble, a professor at the Institute of World Politics, said he said the possibility of Tamerlan not being exposed to radical ideals in Dagestan is slim to none. Craig Albert, assistant professor at the Georgia Regents University Augusta, said that the amount of recruiting being done by Radical Islamists in Dagestan is something the U.S. should be concerned about.
Poe suggested the United States should be more concerned with the growing intelligence on extremism in Russia, and that this isn’t something that should have been swept under the rug.
“The threat from terrorist attacks from around the world did not die with Bin Laden, we must be realistic and understand that, and find out specifically what is happening in Chechnya and how that effects the United States,”