The AP reports that Russian intelligence officials taped a 2011 phone conversation between Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubeidat, during which the two “vaguely discussed jihad.” They did not say anything about an attack in the United States, though they did discuss the idea of Tamerlan going to Palestine. The call seems like it might be the reason the Russian government asked the FBI to look into Tamerlan’s ties to radical Islam in June of 2011. After finding no evidence that Tamerlan — or any other Tsarnaevs — were planning on committing terrorism, the FBI asked the Russians for more information about the family, but no one ever got back to them. Later that year, Russia made a similar request to the CIA, again prompting the FBI to request additional details, which were not provided. If the FBI had known about the contents of the wiretap, the agency may have conducted a more thorough investigation of Tamerlan — though there’s no telling whether that would have prevented the Boston attack. Either way, Russian authorities only told the U.S. government about the recording a few days ago.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Anzor Tsarnaev has canceled his plans to travel to the U.S. to collect Tamerlan’s body and to defend his surviving son, Dzhokhar. (Zubeidat, who was previously said to be “thinking” about accompanying him, will also remain in Russia for now.) “Unfortunately I can’t help my child in any way. I am in touch with Dzhokhar’s and my own lawyers. They told me they would let me know [what to do],” explained Anzor, who would not have been allowed to visit Dzhokhar anyway. He also cited high blood pressure and a heart condition as reasons to put off what would certainly be a very stressful trip. “I feel hopeless. We are simple people,” he added. “We are trying to understand. We are attacked from all sides. I don’t know whether I should talk or stay silent. I don’t want to harm my child. … We are used to all sorts of things here but we didn’t expect this from the United States.”