On the 23rd day of April in 2011, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was interviewed by the FBI, at the request of the Russians who said they were concerned about the young man's ties to Chechen Islamic Extremists.
Two years later, Tamerlan, who was around 24 at the time of the interview, would go on to become the infamous Boston bomber in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. Alongside his brother, Dzhokhar, they blew up two homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line at the marathon.
The attack killed three and injured nearly 300 people. The subsequent manhunt led authorities to the Tsarnaev brothers, who went on the run after learning the authorities were on their trail. Tamerlan was killed by his brother after he panicked and ran him over with his car. Dzhokhar was later shot and captured while hiding inside a boat.
While the FBI admitted, at the time of the bombings, that it had interviewed Tamerlan, it was only this week that it released the details of the interview. The young man said he was approached by four well dressed men, who spoke without any accents, and identified themselves as FBI agents. They told him they wanted to talk with him and said they'd be back the following day to speak with him but never returned. They offered no business cards nor any contact information. Tamerlan must have thought it strange, and the FBI did not acknowledge they were real FBI agents during the interview.
The FBI then asked Tamerlan a series of questions related to his daily activities. He was asked about his Chechen heritage but said he had several Russian friends in the U.S., preferring to blame the leaders of Russia, Putin and Medvedev, rather than the Russian people.
He then described his boxing activities, saying he'd hoped to be able to box for the U.S. National Team someday. When asked if he'd ever consider joining the military he said he preferred to train to be a professional boxer.
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Tsarnaev, a Muslim, was asked about his activities at the local Mosque. He said he attended the Mosque on Fridays for prayers, along with a few of his friends from high school, but admitted he knew few people at the mosque.
He said he knew of Islamic extremist information on the internet but said he never frequented such sites. The FBI asked Tamerlan about other religions and he responded by saying he had respect for all religions and that being a part of one makes one's life better.
Nothing from the interview reportedly raised any red flags in the eyes of the FBI, but something interesting to note, and what might be fodder for conspiracy theorists, was the strangely peculiar encounter, not documented, with four men reportedly belonging to the FBI.
As we've learned from subsequent FBI investigations, one as recent as today's announcement of the arrest of two Chicago ISIS sympathizers, the bureau has an extensive network of informants. Those individuals often infiltrate the lives of targeted individuals, in an effort to see if they're capable of carrying out terrorist attacks. They're then presented with an opportunity to do so, and it's at that time they're arrested.
The FBI then takes credit for preventing a terrorist attack, thereby validating their anti-terrorist budget and activities. Some critics of the FBI call those actions nothing less than entrapment. And without the help of the FBI, those individuals would arguably be going about their everyday activities, unconcerned with carrying out acts of terrorism. The FBI's anti-terrorism activities, some have said, actually create terrorists out of regular citizens.
While it's still unclear, from Tsarnaev's interview, whether or not the Boston bombings was one such sting operation that went horribly wrong, the facts are now becoming clear. Tsarnaev was approached by people he thought were the FBI. He was then interviewed by the FBI. He and his brother then bombed the Boston Marathon. What happened between the time of the interview and the time of the bombing is still unknown. But we hope that activists using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can uncover any government documents which might be able to answer those remaining unanswered questions.
One thing is now for certain. When Zubeidat Tsarnaev (mother) claimed the pair of brothers were being handled by the FBI, her accusations were met with much skepticism. She proclaimed her sons' innocence and said the FBI knew what they were doing all along. "They used to come [to our] home, they used to talk to me…they were telling me that he [the older, 26-y/o Tamerlan] was really an extremist leader and that they were afraid of him. They told me whatever information he is getting, he gets from these extremist sites… they were controlling him, they were controlling his every step…and now they say that this is a terrorist act! Never ever is this true, my sons are innocent!”