Much fuss is being made in Washington, DC because one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers had been previously interviewed by the FBI. Tamerlan Tsarnaev returned to Russia unbeknownst to the FBI, even though he was on the watch list. One possible explanation is that the now-dead Tamerlan Tsarnaev was co-opted into being an FBI informant and then his name was removed from the watch list or it was intentionally misspelled on the list. After twenty-seven years as a Special Agent with what is now NCIS, U.S. Customs and DEA, I (David) have developed many informants. Diane as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney knows how Federal agencies try to conceal their informants even from Justice Department attorneys.
The media asserts that in 2011, Russian authorities warned the FBI (and later the CIA) that Tamelan Tsarnaev was in the U.S. and he was a “follower of radical Islam.” The CIA notified several government agencies and recommended Tsarnaev be placed on the “watchlisting system” of the National Counterterrorism Center’s Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE). The FBI claims they did interview Tamerlan Tsarnaev and concluded that he was not radicalized. Then in 2012, Tsarnaev traveled to Russia, Chechnya and Dagestan where it is believed he spent six months and met with radical Chechens.
In the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI as the lead agency, poured through tons of videos until they isolated pictures of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhohkar. For twenty-four hours thereafter, they circulated these photos within the law enforcement community hoping some agency might have had official contact with the brothers, and be able to identify them. It was only after twenty-four hours had passed, with no one in law enforcement apparently recognizing the brothers that their photos were finally flashed on TV. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife phoned him and told him he was wanted. Thereafter, the brothers attempted their bomb-laden trip to New York City, but only after shooting a police officer to obtain a gun and car-jacking a car for the trip.
This scenario begs the question: Why, during these twenty-four hours, didn’t the FBI agents who interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev come forward and identify him? If Tamerlan was interviewed, he was also photographed. Why wasn’t his photograph matched up to the videos? Every FBI agent is required to have at least one informant. If he/she doesn’t, it is negatively noted at the time of their annual performance evaluation. There is a good possibility that the agent/agents that interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev considered him a good candidate to be an informant within the Chechan/Muslim immigrants living here in the U.S. If so, they would have written him up, photographed him, and since he had no pending criminal charges to hold over his head, they may have put him on the payroll as a Cooperating Individual, Cooperating Informant, CI, Asset, or snitch. The parlance differs among law enforcement agencies and with the amount of respect the controlling agent has for his/her source.
The controlling agents could then use Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s secret numeric number to report on radical Imams at local mosques, radical persons attending those mosques etc. If the controlling agents wanted Tamerlan Tsarnaev to return to Russia, Chechnya, or Dagestan, they could remove his name from the TIDE or change the spelling of his name to permit him easier travel. This would also keep other agencies from responding to his travels.
If Tsarnaev did travel back home to Chechnya with the blessing of the FBI or some other government agency and while there became radicalized, we may never know. If he returned to the U.S. and committed this horrific act, the FBI could be burying his records deeply within their agency, identified only by the super-secret file number that has replaced his name. As of this writing, we do not have specific evidence that Tameran Tsarnaev was an FBI informant; we simply point out what may have happened behind the scenes.
And the terror acts in Boston lead us to another unsolved mystery, one in which we have done a considerable amount of research. Those who have read our historical fiction thriller, The Camelot Conspiracy” know that Lee Harvey Oswald returned to the U.S. after having lived in the Soviet Union and having contact with the KGB. Upon Oswald’s return, FBI Agent James P. Hosty tells in his 1995 memoir, Assignment Oswald, how he made two visits to Oswald’s home and in his absence, and interviewed Oswald’s Russian wife Marina. She was the niece of a Soviet military intelligence officer. On 6/20/11, the New York Times reported in Hosty’s obituary that after Hosty’s visit to Marina, Oswald went to the FBI office and tried to meet with Hosty. Because Hosty was not in the office, Oswald left him a letter. To this day, we do not know if Oswald or Marina were being carried by the FBI as informants, but according to this same NY Times article, following Oswald’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Agent Hosty asked his supervisor J. Gordon Shanklin what he should do with Oswald’s letter. According to Hosty’s testimony before Congress, his supervisor ordered him to destroy the letter. Shanklin denied giving that order. Back then, there were no shredders, so following his boss’ alleged orders, Agent Hosty tore up and flushed the letter.
The Times also reported that the Warren Commission, which investigated the Kennedy Assassination, was never told about the letter from Oswald. Also, before giving the Warren Commission an inventory of the contents of Lee Harvey Oswald’s address book, the FBI removed the contact information for FBI agent James Hosty. The tampering was later discovered by Commission lawyers when they got their hands on the actual address book. The account of the Oswald’s letter to Hosty was finally told to Congress at the time of the investigation by the Select House Committee on Assassinations in 1975. That committee contradicted the Warren Commission and opined the Kennedy assassination was the result of a conspiracy.
Hosty later claimed Oswald’s destroyed letter contained Oswald’s protestations over Hosty trying to talk with Marina. Even if true, the efforts by Hosty and the Bureau to cover-up the contact leave too many questions. The NY Times reported that in his memoir Hosty later wrote, “I came to understand that one of our jobs was to protect the bureau’s image at all costs.”
There are troubling similarities between the FBI’s involvement with Oswald and Tsarnaev. More than fifty years have passed since Kennedy’s assassination. Unfortunately, we still do not know precisely what the FBI knew and what they didn’t. Will it be the same with the Boston Marathon? Will there be efforts to ‘protect the bureau’s image at all cost’? Let’s hope we receive the truth and soon.
Be Blessed, David and Diane Munson