It has been over a year since the events that took place during the Boston Marathon, and there seems to be this growing animosity towards the Russia Federation for its actions throughout the investigation. Many continue to blame the Russian Federation for its failure to disclose pertinent information to the FBI on the Tsarnaev brothers; and some go so far as to say that this event is a failure in counterterrorism cooperation between the two nations. Many questions still circulate around the event: why did the Russians withhold information, why wasn’t the FBI able to act quicker to prevent the attack, and why was there a communication failure between both nations?
In 2011 the Russian authorities alerted the U.S. that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a radical Muslim and should be monitored for terrorist activity. At the time, Russia provided very little information as to why this individual should be monitored, only to note that his habits had changed and that he exhibited behaviors of an Islamic extremist. The U.S. reviewed the information available and considered Tsarnaev a “far greater threat to Russia” then to the U.S., however he still remained on the terrorist watch list for 18 months prior to the attack.
What I find most surprising is that an individual with jihadist beliefs, who is supposedly being monitored for 18 months, goes to Russia for six months, comes back to change his name to “Muaz” which was the name of an Islamic martyr and no one bats an eyelash? How is it that we are to blame the Russian Federation for ‘withholding’ information when it seems that most of the activities are happening on U.S. soil? All of these small details were disregarded because he did not pose a direct threat to the U.S.; and yet the U.S. makes a point to continuously protect those in other countries; why would a threat to Russia be any different?
After hearing of the attack, President Putin condemned it and stressed that the Russian Federation would prior assistance if necessary for the investigation. Aside from the information noted early, nothing more was provided and the news headlines are still reading ‘Russia Withheld Information’. So it begs the question, is there anything else being withheld or is the media trying to cover up the fact that the bulk of the suspicious behavior could have been picked up by our own intelligence agencies? Igor Korotchenko seems to think so; the editor in chief of the Natsionalnaya Obsorona (National Defense) magazine has stated “I think that the FBI has decided to participate in this anti-Russian hysteria that is now underway in the U.S. in connection with the events in Ukraine. Such statements are purely political.”
After reviewing the facts it appears that the two nations should have combined their knowledge earlier on to catch the key elements that lead to the attacks during the Boston Marathon. The U.S. should have investigated deeper into the individuals who were flagged as a potential terrorist threat, regardless if the threat was not aimed at the US. Although there has yet to appear to be any confirmation on whether they had connections to other extremist groups, there are reports that they may have been dealing with drugs and exhibiting other suspicious activities within the New England area.
As far as the Russian Federation, it seems that although the information provided was useful, I do not believe that they were withholding information that could potentially be a threat to their own country. I’m sure our intelligence agencies may have uncovered information that was much more substantial regarding the how and why they caused this attack. Otherwise I do not see why the media continues to keep blaming the Russian Federation as if they planned the attack. If anything, this attack prompted the Russian Federation to increase security and defense for the Sochi event that took place earlier this year.
I do acknowledge that the statements of having uncooperative measures may have more to do with the personal history between the two nations, rather than the actual working relationship being accomplished. The two nations were able to join their efforts for the successful removal of chemical weapons in Syria. The more recent events in Ukraine have put an additional strain on the relationship, which makes it difficult to improve the trust between the two nations. But as far as cooperation on counterterrorism is concerned they seem to be making improvements in every area since the attack. Ultimately the culprits were caught with or without this vital information and the younger Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is presently awaiting trial.