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🌶 kade 🌶 @onekade
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Five years ago today, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people died, and hundreds were injured. Later that week, all hell broke loose in the Boston area. We still don't know who built the bombs.
In 2015, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of bombing the marathon and killing an MIT police officer. He was sentenced to death. The FBI seems to have moved on. But key facts in the case are missing. This is a thread about the loose ends.
The bombings happened on Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013, at around 2:50pm. For days, the government wouldn't say anything about whether it had suspects. Then, on Thursday April 18, at around 5:20pm, the FBI released photos of its suspects.
At this time, the head special agent of the FBI in Boston, with the US Attorney Carmen Ortiz by his side, claimed that the government had no idea who these men were, and that it needed the public's help identifying them.
We later learned that people who knew the Tsarnaevs called the FBI tip line right away to identify the brothers. Nonetheless, hours later, the brothers allegedly killed an MIT police officer and had a shoot out with cops in the streets of Watertown, Massachusetts.
About 5 hours after the photos were released, someone robbed a 7-11 in Cambridge, at gun point. Initial reports indicated law enforcement thought the robbery was connected to the bombers. Minutes later, an MIT police officer was shot, execution style, in his squad car on campus.
Hours after that, people in Watertown began posting images of a shootout on their quiet suburban street. In the early morning hours of Friday, April 19, 2013, we learned the identities of the brothers.
The FBI maintains to this day that the first time had a positive ID on the brothers was when they fingerprinted Tamerlan Tsarnaev's corpse in the hospital, after the shootout. His brother was at the time still missing.
Later, Cambridge police officers would complain to Chuck Grassley's office and reporters that prior to the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier, the FBI was swarming the area, but wouldn't tell local cops why they were there or what they were doing.
Finally, when pressed by Grassley to answer for why the FBI was swarming the area near 1. Tamerlan's house; 2. the 7-11 robbery; and 3. MIT, Comey said the FBI was there to see about an unrelated matter.
(This is extremely difficult to swallow. That very day, the special agent in charge of the Boston office had said FBI agents *worldwide* were laser focused on the bombing investigation, but agents blocks from the brothers were investigating something else? Mmmk.)
Later we learned other reasons to doubt the FBI's official story, about what it knew about the bombers, and when. In the days after Tsarnaev was captured, the Russian government told us that they'd warned the FBI and CIA about Tamerlan. The FBI was forced to admit it.
After Russia told us this, the FBI confirmed that yes, it had investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev way back in January 2011, on suspicion of involvement with international terrorism.
Mueller, who was FBI director at the time, told Congress that Tamerlan had come to the FBI's attention at least two times *prior* to the Russian tip.…
The FBI said the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) had investigated Tamerlan from January 2011 to June 2011, and that it didn't find anything "derogatory" on him, and dropped the investigation.
Nonetheless, for reasons unknown, the FBI put him on two terrorist watch lists: TIDE and TECS.
Months after June, when the FBI says it dropped its investigation of Tamerlan, three men were butchered in a grisly triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts. One of the men was Tamerlan's best friend.
That was September 11, 2011, ten years to the day after 9/11. The day after those murders, the local DA, Gerry Leone, told reporters it seemed as if the assailant(s) knew the victims. There was no evidence of a break in.
Those murders were never solved. Police say they never interviewed Tamerlan about the murders, despite the fact that friends and family said Tamerlan—the best friend of one of the victims—didn't go to the funeral.
Those murders are still unsolved, and when reporters and family members of the deceased ask the DA for information about the investigation, they claim they can't release it because it's ongoing.
That is odd, because in May 2013, just weeks after the bombings, law enforcement leaked to a reporter that they had their first break-through in the case: They suspected Tamerlan did it. (But their suspect was dead. Sigh.)
Astonishingly, law enforcement told the reporter that they had forensics and cell phone location evidence tying Tamerlan to the crime. Mind you, this is two years after the killings. Where was that evidence for those two years?…
Even more astonishing: Weeks after that, we woke up to news that a Boston FBI agent had killed a friend of Tamerlan's overnight in Orlando, Florida. The government said they suspected Ibragim Todashev of involvement in the Waltham killings.
To recap: The government claims Tamerlan and Ibragim killed the men in Waltham, but when people ask the local DA investigating that murder for info about the investigation, it's denied because the investigation is "ongoing." Ok.
Back to the FBI, and what it knew about Tamerlan, and what it claims not to have known. Again, the FBI claims to this day that it had no idea who the brothers were until Tamerlan's corpse was examined Friday April 19.
This, despite the fact that Boston JTTF agents investigated him for six months, and visited him and his family on multiple occasions. This, despite the fact that the Russian government had warned the Boston FBI about him. (I wonder how often that happens?)
This, despite the fact that the night they released the images of the brothers, local law enforcement says the FBI was swarming the area near Tamerlan's house and near MIT, and wouldn't tell local cops why.
But now we have documents to underscore how unlikely it is that the FBI was telling the truth when it said it didn't know who the brothers were: Tamerlan's immigration file.…
The FBI can exert huge amounts of influence over whether someone is granted US citizenship. There's an official process for the FBI's involvement in the citizenship process. It's called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP).
As an ACLU report showed back in 2013 demonstrates, the CARRP process gives the FBI the power to coerce immigrants seeking citizenship into informing for the bureau.…
Tamerlan's citizenship application was processed through CARRP. Despite the fact that he was on a terrorist watch list, and despite the fact that he had traveled to a region the US considers a hotbed of terrorism, this happened:
On October 1, 2012, the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate of USCIS "de-schedules" and places in suspense Tamerlan's application. (Perhaps someone saw that he was listed in two terror databases, and had traveled to Dagestan recently.)
But then, on November 2, 2015, Tamerlan's application was routed through CARRP, where someone (who is redacted) ticked off the box "remove suspense" on the routing form.
Thirteen days later, USCIS put Tamerlan's naturalization application back on the shelf (that's the terminology they use), and sent Tamerlan a notice requesting that he send them the arrest records from his 2009 domestic violence arrest.
On January 23, 2013, Tamerlan passed his English and history citizenship tests. He was expecting to be told when he could take the oath, but instead USCIS told him they were looking into something and he'd have to wait longer.
Some reporters and local police officers think maybe this delay (after perhaps being promised citizenship by the FBI, in exchange for his cooperation), set Tamerlan off on his violent designs.
Meanwhile, a few things about his trip to Dagestan. The FBI, again, says they finished investigating him in June 2011, found nothing derogatory, but nonetheless add him to two terror watch lists.
The Waltham murders happen in September 2011. Months later, Tamerlan flies to Dagestan, which is controlled by Russia—the country his parents said they escaped for their protection.
He has no problem entering Dagestan, despite the fact that the Russians apparently thought he was a terrorist. While he's in Dagestan, he reportedly meets with a bunch of people the Russians think are terrorists. Some of them are subsequently killed by Russian security services.
During the trial of his little brother, years later, we learn that for unknown reasons Tamerlan was making secret recordings of the conversations he had with people in Dagestan. Ok.
In July 2012, Tamerlan comes back to the United States. Despite the fact that he's on two terrorist watch lists, he is not even subjected to secondary screening at JFK upon his return.
In April 2013, the marathon blows up. But we don't know who built the bombs that exploded that day, and in court filings, the government indicates it suspects the brothers did not build them alone.
A months after the marathon bombings, police in Topsfield, Massachusetts get a call about a domestic disturbance. They find a woman and her partner visibly shaken. Her son has just attacked them.
The police go to the house and find the son, Daniel Morley, barricaded in his bedroom. He eventually comes out, and the cops put him in an ambulance and take him to a mental hospital (whiteness, right?). The cops search the house, with the mom's permission.
Inside Morley's room they find a bomb making factory and weapons, including the specific types of shrapnel and ignitor equipment that were used in the marathon bombings. They also find a pressure cooker of the same model in the closet next to a bag of fertilizer.
Even though none of the local cops have called them, the FBI appears on the scene. The FBI takes the evidence from the local cops, and tells the local DA to drop the charges against Morley.
Morley spends a few years inside a mental hospital, but was never convicted of any crimes related to the weapons, the bomb stuff, or assaulting his mom and her partner. He leaves the mental hospital just after Tsarnaev is sentenced to death.
According to his family, Morley now works for the state of Massachusetts transporting elderly people. He has no criminal record. (Apparently prior to the bombings he worked at MIT, where he still maintained a locker there on April 19, the day the cop was killed.)
Morley's mom and partner have seen the surveillance footage of the man who robbed the 7-11 down the street from where the MIT police officer was killed, the Thursday after the bombings. They say the man looks like Morley.
So, the FBI doesn't know who built the bombs. And local police from Cambridge to Topsfield Massachusetts are asking questions about what the FBI is doing in their communities. Here are some links.…
Here's a very pro-police columnist in the Boston Globe, voicing suspicions among people "in law enforcement" that one or both brothers were FBI informants.…
There's other stuff too but I need to go to the gym. Suffice it to say that there's a lot about the FBI's official line that doesn't hold up to scrutiny. And before you dismiss these concerns, consider that *local cops* are the ones who are voicing them.
And finally, consider the legacy of the FBI in Boston and its informant Whitey Bulger, who committed various murders while he was working with the FBI, which the FBI knew about.
Sorry this should say November 2, 2012.
Ok a couple of bonus rounds, just for fun. I have no idea what any of this means, but I know it's true: 1. Tamerlan's uncle's former father in law worked for the CIA as station chief in Kabul and then as National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia.
2. Watertown, MA, home to the shoot out, was also home to a vast, international drug conspiracy implicating dirty Watertown cops.…
3. Gerry Leone, the DA who investigated the Waltham triple murder, was a New England Golden Gloves referee. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a New England Golden Gloves champion.
(Oh, this was at the same time, according to a Boston reporter.)
4. The men killed in the 2011 Waltham triple murder (one of whom was Tamerlan's best friend) were drug dealers and martial artists. Marijuana was reportedly sprinkled on their bodies, their heads nearly chopped off.
5. Basically right after the bombings, the following people quit their jobs/retired from public service: The FBI's special agent in charge of Boston, who was replaced by Vince Lisi—who prior to that worked in DC as deputy assistant director in the Counterintelligence Division.
Ed Davis, who had run the Boston Police Department. Robert Mueller, who was the FBI director, retired in September.
Vince Lisi is the particularly interesting one, to me. He worked in counterintelligence in DC, then came to Boston to oversee the FBI for the duration of the Tsarnaev trial. And basically no longer. Quit almost immediate after that, retired from FBI. *quizzical face*
I should say that despite all of this, the only news organization in the city that has seriously investigated these questions is @WBUR. Read:…
WBUR’s reporting is based largely although not exclusively on the reporting of Michele McPhee, who wrote a book based off many local law enforcement sources.…
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