This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows bombing suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, center right in black hat, and his brother, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, center left in white hat, approximately 10-20 minutes before the blasts that struck the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bob Leonard)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government added the name of the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect to a terrorist database 18 months before the deadly explosions, U.S. officials told The Associated Press.
Five days after the U.S. determined who was allegedly behind the deadly Boston marathon terror attacks, Washington is piecing together what happened and whether there were any unconnected dots buried in U.S. government files that, if connected, could have prevented the bombings.
The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently recruited him to be part of the attack, two U.S. officials said Wednesday. The CIA, however, named Tamerlan to a huge, classified database of known and suspected terrorists 18 months ago, officials said, an acknowledgment that will undoubtedly prompt congressional inquiry about whether the Obama administration adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev had posed a security threat.
Shortly after the bombings, U.S. officials said the intelligence community had no information about threats to the marathon before the April 15 explosions.
The U.S. officials who spoke to The Associated Press were close to the investigation but insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case with reporters.
Investigators have said the brothers, Russian-born ethnic Chechens, appeared to have been radicalized through jihadist materials on the Internet and have found no evidence tying them to a terrorist group.
Tamerlan, whom authorities have described as the driving force behind the plot, was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar is recovering in a hospital from injuries sustained during a getaway attempt.
The CIA made the request to add Tamerlan's name to the terrorist database after the Russian government contacted the agency with concerns that he had become a follower of radical Islam. About six months earlier, the FBI had separately investigated Tsarnaev, also at Russia's request, but the FBI found no ties to terrorism, officials said.
Officials say they never found the type of derogatory information on Tsarnaev that would have elevated his profile among counterterrorism investigators and placed him on the terror watch list.
Lawmakers who were briefed by the FBI said they have more questions than answers about the investigation of Tsarnaev. U.S. officials were expected to brief the Senate on the investigation Thursday.
Officials said Wednesday that Dzhokhar acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional rights to keep quiet and seek a lawyer.
It is unclear whether those statements would be admissible in a criminal trial and, if not, whether prosecutors even need them to win a conviction. Officials said physical evidence, including a 9 mm handgun and pieces of a remote-control device commonly used in toys, was recovered from the scene.
Authorities had previously said Dzhokhar exchanged gunfire with them for more than an hour Friday night before they captured him inside a boat covered by a tarp in a suburban Boston neighborhood backyard. But two U.S. officials said Wednesday that he was unarmed when captured, raising questions about the gunfire and how he was injured.
Dzhokhar told the FBI that they were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there, officials said.
How much of those conversations will end up in court is unclear. The FBI normally tells suspects they have the right to remain silent before questioning them so all their statements can be used against them.
Under pressure from Congress, however, the Department of Justice has said investigators may wait until they have gathered intelligence about other threats before reading those rights in terrorism cases. The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern about that.
Regardless, investigators have found pieces of remote-control equipment among the debris and were analyzing them, officials said. One official described the detonator as "close-controlled," meaning it had to be triggered within several blocks of the bombs.
They also recovered a 9 mm handgun believed to have been used by Tamerlan from the site of a Thursday night gunbattle that injured a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer, two U.S. officials said.
The officials told the AP that no gun was found in the boat. Boston police Commissioner Ed Davis said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat.
Asked whether the suspect had a gun in the boat, Davis said, "I'm not going to talk about that."
Dzhokhar's public defender had no comment on the matter Wednesday. His father has called him a "true angel," and an aunt has insisted he's not guilty.
The suspects' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, told journalists Thursday that he would fly to the U.S. from Russia on Thursday or Friday. The suspects' mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said she was still thinking it over. The family has said it wants to take Tamerlan's body back to Russia.
In Russia, U.S. investigators traveled to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan and were in contact with the brothers' parents, hoping to gain more information.