The mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had phone calls wire-tapped by Russian investigators concerned that her son had become a religious extremist, it was claimed last night. US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the secretly recorded conversations from 2011 were shared by the Russian authorities in the last few days.
It was claimed they reveal Zubeidat Tsarnaeva discussing jihad with one of her sons and another call in which she makes contact with someone in southern Russia being tracked by the FBI in an unrelated investigation. Her two sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were the presumed perpetrators of the double bomb blast on 15 April which killed three people, including an eight year old boy, and injured 264 more. Tamerlan later died in gun battle with police, while Dzhokar was arrested after being found hiding in a boat.
After the wire-taps, it is claimed the Russian authorities passed on concerns that Tamerlan and his mother were a potential threat, leading to an inquiry by the FBI which closed in June 2011. The concern in the U.S. yesterday was that not enough information about the family was passed on when investigators in Russia first raised the alarm, limiting the scope of FBI inquiries. Tamerlan was heard to be “vaguely” discussing jihad during one intercepted call in early 2011 and it is said Zubeidat talked to her son about the possibility of him going to Palestine. The second recording reportedly found Zubeidat Tsarnaeva speaking to a man in the Caucasus region of Russia who was being investigated by the FBI.
Jacqueline Maguire, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office, declined to comment on the claims. Officials asked for anonymity because they are not allowed to discuss the investigation publicly, the Associated Press said. It follows reports that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva had, 18 months ago, been placed on a federal terrorism database managed by the CIA. She was added at the same time Tamerlan was added to a US watchlist of known terrorists and suspects.