Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CIA asked National Counterterrorism Center to put Boston bomber on watch list over a year ago.

By Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz,

Washington Post: The CIA asked the main U.S. counterterrorism agency to add the name of one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers to a watch list more than a year before the attack, according to U.S. officials.

The agency took the step after Russian authorities contacted officials there in the fall of 2011 and raised concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev — who was killed last week in a confrontation with police — was seen as an increasingly radical Islamist and could be planning to travel overseas. The CIA requested that his name be put on a database maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center.

That database, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, is a data storehouse that feeds a series of government watch lists, including the FBI’s main Terrorist Screening Database and the Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly” list.

Officials said Tsarnaev’s name was added to the database but it’s unclear which agency added it.

The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a preliminary inquiry into Tsarnaev after getting a similar inquiry about him from Russian state security, according to officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The new disclosure suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than previously known to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions as to why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the country after a seven-month trip to Russia last year.

Law enforcement officials said that the request to the FBI in 2011 originated from fears by the Russian government that Tamerlan was a threat to Russia and would commit a terrorist act in Russia -- not the United States. The request came from Russian federal police to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

“There was a concern he might have some kind of ties to terrorism,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. “We did everything legally that we could do with the little bit of information we had. After we did, we found no derogatory information.”

The FBI gets hundreds of similar requests a year from foreign governments, said a law enforcement official. The findings were reported back to Russia and Russian authorities were asked if they had any more information for the United States to investigate about Tamerlan and they did not.

“They were satisfied,” said the official. “We had checked on their information. And no further information was provided.”

Israel buying MV-22 Ospreys

DOD BUZZ: The surprise announcement that Israel was acquiring the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey for its special forces has led other countries to take a second look at buying the aircraft that has greater range and speed than conventional helicopters.

“I can tell you that several countries are very, very interested” in the Osprey, said William Schroeder, a spokesman for Bell Boeing of Fort Worth, Tex.

Schroeder declined to name the interested countries, but the United Arab Emirates has been haggling with Bell Boeing for more than a year on unit prices, and Britain and Canada have also inquired about the Ospreys.

The sale of Ospreys to Israel — if coupled with buys from other states — could insure keeping the production line open past the current phase out date in 2018.

U.S. and Israel officials have yet to say how many of the $70 million Ospreys that Israel will buy, or the price that the Israelis will pay.
Defense Department officials last Friday made the surprise announcement that the Israelis would be getting the Osprey ahead of a trip to the region by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Hagel, who was in Israel Monday in part to seal the deal on the Ospreys as part of a major arms, will be in the Emirates later this week on his Mideast swing to wrap up details on a total $10 billion in arms sales to Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

At a joint news conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Hagel said the weapons for Israel included “anti-radiation missiles and advanced radars for its fleet of fighter jets, KC-135 refueling aircraft, and most significantly, the V-22 Osprey, which the U.S. has not released to any other nation.”

“The introduction of the V-22 into the Israeli Air Force will give the Israeli Air Force long-range, high-speed, maritime search-and-rescue capabilities to deal with a number of threats and contingencies,” Hagel said, but the Israelis have already made clear that they have much more in mind for the Ospreys than sea rescues when the aircraft becomes operational with its special forces.

Ya’alon said that the arms deal showed the commitment of President Obama to guaranteeing that Israel maintained a qualitative military edge in the region against any potential adversary.

“We see your commitment in the Joint Strike Fighter program and the presidential approval of other advanced capabilities, such as the V-22 for Israel,” Ya’alon said.

Ya’alon said the arms deal with the U.S. should also send a strong signal to Iran.

“Without a credible military option,there’s no chance the Iranian regime will realize it has to stop the military nuclear project,” Ya’alon said.


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