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FBI Quizzed Boston Bomber, But Lack of Followup Caused Tragedy // 10 Minutes on Internet Could Have Prevented Bombings


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2013-04-21 21:43:38 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 21, 2013): While many have questioned whether the FBI conducted a sufficiently thorough investigation of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, little if any attention has been focused on the lack of any apparent government followup subsequent to the apparently-closed investigation – a followup which in only ten minutes on the Internet would have yielded more than enough new information from YouTube alone to an warrant an additional investigation which could have prevented the Boston bombing tragedy, claims public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Just a few minutes of searching would have found a YouTube page in the name of Tamerlan Tsarnaev which contained links to persons he identified as "terrorists," as well as links to Islamic teachings.

The page reportedly was updated just two months ago, with a subscription to a channel named "Allah is the One," and two playlists labeled Terrorists (now deleted).

This new and frightening information – especially when added to earlier warnings by a foreign government that Tamerlan was a "follower of radical Islam and a strong believer," “had changed drastically and was preparing to leave the United States “to join unspecified underground groups” – would seem more than sufficient to re-open the earlier investigation, argues Banzhaf, who has a background

in security.

Had the FBI re-opened its earlier investigation, it almost certainly would have discovered – as the media did in just a few days – that Tamerlan was very recently kicked out of the prayer service at his local mosque for shouting at the Imam during the service and acting "crazy," according to a fellow Muslim who was present. Acting crazy and out of control, even to fellow believers in Islam, should have been a clear sign of potential trouble, suggests Banzhaf.

"If there was sufficient information to warrant a significant FBI investigation in 2011, including an interview with the suspect and his father, and to put a hold on his request for U.S. citizenship, it seems only logical that the FBI should perform routine periodic follow ups, even if it’s only a quick search through the Internet for mentions of a suspect’s name on social media.

Experience shows that many intent on wrongdoing reveal themselves long before the event on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, says Banzhaf, noting that Internet searches can be done quickly, easily and very inexpensively even by unsophisticated personnel, and do not involve the intrusion, expense, and possible invasion of privacy which might occur from a broader investigation involving more interviews, undercover agents, etc.

As Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House subcommittee on counterterrorism, has noted: "This is the firth case I'm aware of where the FBI has failed to stop someone," citing the cases of al-Qaida recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, Little Rock shooter Carlos Bledsoe, the accused Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik and alleged American-Pakistani terrorist David Coleman Headley. "This is the latest in a series of cases like this … where the FBI is given information about someone as being a potential terrorist. They look at them, and then they don't take action and then they go out and commit murders," King said.

Simple, inexpensive, routine follow ups on people in the U.S. who in the past have been identified as possible terrorists should be performed periodically because significant information may not be uncovered during the initial investigation, and also because people can change in a year or two – from potential to actual terrorist – especially when they are young, make trips to foreign countries, etc says Banzhaf.

JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418
banzhaf.net/ @profbanzhaf


Contact Information:
George Washington University Law School,

2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA

Contact Person:
John Banzhaf
Professor of Public Interest Law
Phone: (202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418
email: email

Web: banzhaf.net/



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