Edward Snowden says that U.S. surveillance failed to stop the men suspected of planting bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon even though Russia provided them with intelligence.
“Despite the fact that the communications of everybody in America were currently being intercepted, they didn’t catch the Boston bombers, despite the fact that the Russian intelligence service specifically warned the FBI that these individuals were known to be associated with Islamic terror groups,” Snowden told the Guardian.
“We didn’t actually fully investigate them, we just made a cursory visit and went back to all of our keyboards looking at everybody’s emails and text messages.”
The FBI would sharply disagree with that assessment, citing a review of how intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombings.
According to an FBI inspector general report, the Russians told the F.B.I. in 2011 that one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer” and that Mr. Tsarnaev “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”
But after the initial intel sharing, the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Tsarnaev.
“They found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the F.B.I. did all that it could,” a senior American official briefed on the review told The New York Times.
Tsarnaev, who died in a firefight with police, and his brother, Dzhokhar, who will face trial, are believed to be the sole suspects in the attack that three people and injured more than 200 near the marathon’s finish line on April 15, 2013.
“Had they known what the Russians knew they probably would have been able to do more under our investigative guidelines, but would they have uncovered the plot? That’s very hard to say,” one senior official told the Times.
Given Snowden’s position as a former NSA systems administrator who stole up to 1.7 million NSA documents, gave about 200,000 of them to journalists, and subsequently ended up under the protection of Russia’s security services after flying to Moscow, his views on world events are relevant.
In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, the 31-year-old American appears to have sided with Moscow’s point of view.
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