Boston notebook

Statesman wire servicesApril 24, 2013 

CIA wanted suspect added to terrorism database

The agency pushed to have one of the suspected Boston bombers placed on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list more than a year before the attacks, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Russian authorities contacted the CIA in fall 2011 and raised concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed last week in a confrontation with police, was seen as an increasingly radical Islamist who could be planning to travel overseas.

The CIA request led the National Counterterrorism Center to add Tsarnaev’s name to a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, that is used to feed information to other lists, including the FBI’s main terrorist screening database.

The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a preliminary inquiry into Tsarnaev after getting a similar warning from Russian state security, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The disclosure of the CIA’s involvement suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than it has previously acknowledged to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions as to why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the United States and investigate him further after a seven-month trip he took to Russia last year.

The CIA declined to comment on its role in the case.

Boston bombs showed some expertise

Investigators said the two explosives were triggered by long-range remote controls for toy cars — a more sophisticated design than originally believed — bolstering a theory that the older suspect received bomb-making guidance during his trip to Russia last year.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev “more than likely got some instruction in Dagestan,” a federal law enforcement official said Wednesday. The official said investigators continue to believe that Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother, Dzhokhar, 19, were radicalized in the U.S., and that no foreign terrorist group orchestrated the plot.

Lawyers defend suspect amid furloughs

The lawyers in charge of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense are dealing with federal budget cuts that will force them to take three unpaid weeks off even as they prepare to defend one of the most complicated criminal cases in the nation.

The office of federal defender Miriam Conrad in Boston was appointed to represent Tsarnaev, who is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill in the April 15 marathon bombings. Her office must complete 15 days of furloughs between April and the end of September.

Other federal defenders interviewed Wednesday said the defense could cost millions of dollars.

Diamond donating ‘Sweet Caroline’ sales this week

The Neil Diamond tune has become a source of comfort after the week of violence and fear in Boston. Sales of the song are up by 597 percent, Nielsen SoundScan said Wednesday. Diamond’s representative said the singer will donate proceeds from the recent sales to marathon bombing victims.

“Sweet Caroline” sold 19,000 tracks this week. It sold 2,800 tracks the previous week and 1.75 million tracks to date. The crowd-pleasing song is a staple of Boston Red Sox games.

It makes no specific mention of Boston or the Red Sox, but the team started playing it regularly at Fenway Park more than a decade ago and fans took to it.

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