Kerry to pursue Boston bombings investigation on Russia trip



WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss expanding counterterrorism cooperation with Russian leaders in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, according to a State Department official.

Kerry will hold talks tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to the official, who briefed reporters in Washington Monday on condition of anonymity ahead of the private talks. The two sides also will discuss efforts to end the war in Syria as well as cooperation on Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea and trade.

The United States has received productive assistance from Russian authorities since the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured more than 200 others, and is seeking new ways to cooperate in fighting terrorism, the official said.

Lawmakers have questioned the FBI’s decision to close a 2011 inquiry into Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two brothers suspected of detonating the bombs at the marathon. Russian intelligence agencies had told the FBI in 2011 that Tsarnaev had become radicalized and asked the U.S. for information about him. The Central Intelligence Agency also was provided with the information.

The FBI searched U.S. terrorism and crime databases, conducted interviews and found nothing incriminating, and the Russians didn’t respond to requests for more information, according to U.S. officials who asked not to be identified discussing intelligence matters.

Because of the FBI investigation, Tsarnaev was listed in a government database maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that alerted the agency when he traveled to Russia in January 2012. Members of Congress have asked how that information was handled.

President Barack Obama said on April 30 that Russia has been “very cooperative” since the attack.

“There are still suspicions sometimes between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies that date back 10, 20, 30 years, back to the Cold War,” Obama said at a White House news conference. “But they’re continually improving.”

Obama said “we want to leave no stone unturned” in a review to determine whether warning signs were missed by U.S. authorities before the bombings.

“We won’t know that until that review is completed,” Obama said. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties. Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing.”

The review of how the information from Russia was handled is being performed by inspectors general for U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, according to a spokesman for James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

U.S. authorities have said Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother Dzhokhar, 19, detonated two homemade bombs near the marathon’s finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with two capital counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Before departing for Moscow, Kerry was due to have lunch today at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.