- (Photo: BBC Video)
A call secretly taped by a Russian government agency shows that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev "vaguely discussed" jihad with his mother in 2011, U.S. officials said.
In early 2011, the Russian FSB internal security service intercepted a conversation between now-dead bombing suspect Tamerlan and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, vaguely discussing jihad, U.S. officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The two discussed the possibility of Tamerlan going to Palestine, but he told his mother he didn't speak the language there.
In a second call, Zubeidat spoke with a man in the Caucasus region of Russia who was under FBI investigation in an unrelated case.
There was no information in the conversation that suggested a plot inside the United States, officials underlined.
Tamerlan's brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is the other bombing suspect, was transferred from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to the Federal Medical Center Devens, about 40 miles west of Boston, late last week.
The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens who emigrated from southern Russia to the Boston area about a decade ago.
The FBI had earlier been told by Russian authorities that they had concerns that Tamerlan and his mother were religious extremists. The FBI conducted a limited inquiry and closed the case in June 2011.
Had Russian authorities shared the information about the telephonic conversations, the FBI could have done a more detailed probe and possibly pre-empted the setting off of the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs during the annual Boston Marathon on April 15, which killed three people and wounded more than 260.
After the Boston attack, the Tsarnaev brothers had planned to go to Times Square in New York to blow up the rest of their explosives. They portrayed an impromptu scheme that failed when they realized the car they had hijacked was low on gas.
The Russians long asked for U.S. assistance regarding Chechen activity in the United States that might be related to terrorism, Jim Treacy, the FBI's legal attaché in Moscow between 2007 and 2009, was quoted as saying. "On any given day, you can get some very good cooperation," he said. "The next you might find yourself totally shut out."
In an interview from Russia, Zubeidat told AP Friday she had never been linked to terrorism. "It's all lies and hypocrisy," she was quoted as saying from Dagestan. "I'm sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I've never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism."
Zubeidat faces shoplifting charges in the U.S. over the theft of more than $1,624 worth of women's clothing from a Lord & Taylor department store in Natick in 2012. She has said she will not be flying to the United States.
Dzhohkar has reportedly told FBI interrogators that he and his brother were angry over U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the deaths of Muslim civilians there.
Tamerlan began to follow a stricter version of Islam in recent years after he met a conservative Muslim convert, identified as only Misha. It is not clear if the FBI has interviewed Misha.