BOSTON — U.S. Rep. William Keating said Russian intelligence officials believe the Boston Marathon bombings could have been avoided if federal authorities had acted on their warnings about bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The Massachusetts Democrat was part of a congressional delegation that met Thursday with Russian security officials in Moscow. Keating told The Associated Press on Friday that Russian officials showed him a letter they sent to the FBI in March 2011, warning that Tsarnaev had plans to join insurgents in Chechnya.
Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police three days after the April 15 bombing. Authorities believe he carried out the attack with his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured alive and remains in custody.
Keating said the letter contained a lot of details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including his birthday, telephone number, cellphone number, where he lived in Cambridge and information about his wife and child. He said it also referenced the possibility that Tsarnaev might be considering changing names.
The Russians also had information about his mother, including her Skype address, Keating said.
Keating told the AP that the Russians believed Tsarnaev wanted to go to Palestine and engage in terrorist activities, but was unable to master the language.
“That was the level of detail they were providing in this letter,” Keating said.
Keating said the intelligence officials believed that if Russia and the U.S. had worked together more closely, the bombings might have been averted. He said a top Russian counterintelligence official told the delegation that “had we had the same level of communication as we do now, the Boston bombing may never have happened.”
FBI officials declined comment Friday.
After getting the March 2011 letter from the Russians, the agency did a cursory investigation and closed its assessment on Tsarnaev.
The April 15 Marathon explosions killed three people and injured more than 260.