After setting off two explosions at the Boston Marathon last week, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev talked about using the rest of their bombs in a Times Square attack, senior law enforcement officials said Thursday.
The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, had first told investigators that he and his 26-year-old brother planned on partying in New York after the marathon attack. Tsarnaev later changed his story, and said that the two men actually discussed setting off their remaining bombs in Times Square.
Officials said that the New York phase of the plan was “undeveloped and aspirational at best.”
Tsarnaev told officials about the Times Square plan in a pre-Miranda rights interview.
Federal agencies have been scrambling to explain how Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who the FBI had investigated after receiving a request from Russian in 2011, was able to travel to Russia in 2012 without being stopped by authorities.
A Department of Homeland Security agent received an email alert that Tsarnaev was headed to Russia in January of 2012, but authorities didn’t follow up, according to what U.S. officials told NBC News. The agent later said that he could not remember the Tsarnaev alert and that he receives hundreds of similar emails a day.
Tsarnaev family members said Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was born in Kyrgyzstan to an ethnically Chechen family, became more radical in his Muslim faith after spending six months in Dagestan in 2012.
The FBI said that Tsarnaev’s name was automatically entered into a guardian watchlist and a Treasury Enforcement Communication System (TECS) watch list once the investigation was opened in 20011.
After an FBI investigation yielded no connections between Tsarnaev and organized terrorists, the query was closed. Russian officials did not respond to an FBI follow-up for more information, officials said.
Tsarnaev was added onto a third list, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDES) database, by the CIA after Russian officials sent the agency a similar request to that shared with the FBI.
Alternate spellings and multiple birth dates for Tamerlan Tsarnaev given by the Russian government to the CIA may have also added to the confusion, with Tsarnaev’s name appearing differently on different watchlists.
According to authorities, Tsarnaev was subjected to extra questioning from customs agents as a result of his entry on the TECS list, but officials had no reason to hold him.