WASHINGTON — The government knew that alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia last year, but his return six months later was not flagged because an FBI alert on him had expired, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday,
“The system pinged when he was leaving the United States. By the time he returned all investigations… had been closed,” Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Commitee.
Committee member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had said he was told by the FBI that the agency did not know of Tsarnaev’s departure because the Russian airline Aeroflot misspelled his name in a passenger record.
Napolitano, however, said that even though Tsarnaev’s name was misspelled, redundancies in the system allowed U.S. authorities to learn of his departure in January 2012.
But his reentry to the U.S. was not flagged, she said. The FBI’s “alert on him was more than a year old and had expired,” she said.