Updated: April 29, 8:24 am
The mother of the Boston bombing suspects was placed on a U.S. terror database a year and a half before the two bombs planted at the finish line of the Boston Marathon exploded, counterterrorism officials confirmed with NBC News.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, whose two sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are suspected of carrying out the terror plot, was placed on the database by the Central Intelligence Agency in the fall of 2011. According to officials, the Russian government contacted the CIA with concerns that Tsarnaeva and her elder son Tamerlan—who was killed in a shootout with police during the manhunt following the bombing—had both become religious militants.
Officials tell NBC News that Tsarnaeva’s placement on the terror database does not mean she might be a threat. The mother of the suspected bombing duo denies having any links to terrorism, calling it “lies and hypocrisy,” the Associated Press reports.
The FBI had also investigated the now-deceased bombing suspect and his mother in response to the tip from the Russian government. Upon interviewing Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his family, the agency later determined that the 26-year-old Chechan posed no terrorist threat. FBI officials claim they did not hear back from Russian investigators when they asked for followup information on Tsarnaev.
Following the bombings in Boston, however, Russian authorities briefed U.S. officials further, according to an NBC News source briefed on the ongoing investigation. The Russians said that in 2011 they had captured a telephone conversation between Tamerlan and his mother in which they discussed jihad. Tamerlan also mentioned a trip to Palenstine.
Tsarnaeva is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and now lives in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan with the suspect’s father. Both parents appeared before the press and insisted that their sons are innocent. The bombings on April 15 left three dead and another 200 wounded.