FBI Concedes Boston Lapse

Washington — The head of the FBI said yesterday that there were lapses in tracking accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s visit to Russia last year, saying that U.S. security officials failed to act on “text” alerts to a U.S. Customs agent about his trip.

The inaction came after U.S. officials interviewed Tsarnaev and his parents about Russian concerns that he was traveling there “intent on returning and perhaps participating in jihad,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said.

Mueller told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that in March 2011, Russian authorities asked the U.S. for a background assessment on Tsarnaev and his mother.

He said the FBI assigned a “very good” agent to conduct a background check on Tsarnaev, review his college records and interview him and his parents. Also, Mueller said, “based on the leads we got from the Russians, we found no ties to terrorism.”

In August, the FBI told the Russians that it had found nothing. The Russians, however, never told the U.S. why they suspected Tsarnaev.

“So the assessment was closed,” Mueller said.

The Russians also asked for any notification if Tsarnaev left the country. He visited Russia between January and July 2012. However, Mueller said, federal law enforcement officials failed to follow up on that trip, and “no action was taken.”