Despite "multiple" warnings from Russian intelligence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had turned to violent jihad, the suspected author of the horrific Boston Marathon massacre was able to buy $400 worth of fireworks in nearby Seabrook, NH, unhindered.
Large and small fireworks are a source of black powder explosive.
The older Tsarnaev brother showed his driver's license as required, and allowed it to be photocopied for store records, also as required. Tsarnaev had been interviewed at least once by the FBI in 2011 as a follow up on warnings from the Russian FSB intelligence service. At the time of the purchase in January 2013, he was on two different terror watch lists.
The black powder from the large "mortar" style fireworks was allegedly used in the pressure cooker bombs exploded in the Boston Marathon bombing.
In addition, despite the ability of the FBI to secure a search warrant for the monitoring and search of Internet usage in cases where "probable cause" exists that a crime might be committed, the Tsarnaev brothers were able to download instructions for the making of pressure cooker bombs from the jihadist website "Inspire."
The revelations came as NBC reported on the words and actions of the surviving younger brother, Dzhokhar, from his hospital bed as he regained consciousness last month. NBC News wrote that:
A fireworks store in Seabrook, N.H., confirmed Tuesday that the older brother bought two large pyrotechnic kits there Feb. 6. Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought two “good-size” mortar kits, consisting of tubes and shells, and black powder, said William Weimer, vice president of the store, Phantom. He said Tsarnaev paid $199.99 under a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
The fireworks store vice president William Weimer said he had Tsarnaev’s driver’s license on file, as required by state law.
American law allows authorities to search, monitor, and keep tabs on law enforcement targets who it suspects of having committed, is committing, or is about to commit a particularly serious crime, under the "probable cause" stipulation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
The older Tsarnaev brother, considered the leader of the two, first came to the attention of the FBI in 2011, when the Russian intelligence service contacted the FBI to tell them that Tamerlan had "changed drastically since 2010" and had become a "follower of radical Islam." The FSB told the FBI that Tamerlan was "prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups."
The warning was forwarded to both the FBI's Washington DC headquarters and to the Boston field office. After a briefing of the US Senate Intelligence Committee last month, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina said that the US was warned about Tsarnaev by the Russian FSB repeatedly.
In 2012, nearly a year after the first warning,Tamerlan did travel to Chechnya for six months. His activities there are unknown. But at the end of 2012, a Chechen jihadist was killed in a gun battle with Russian forces, whose speeches Tamerlan had posted on a Youtube channel.
Tamerlan was placed on both the TIDE terror watchlist, Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, and the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database, in 2011 after an April 2011 FBI interview in Boston.
The month after Tamerlan is reported to have bought the fireworks, he had an outburst in a mosque in Cambridge, in which he reportedly was angered by a comparison between the prophet Mohammed and Rev. Martin Luther King. The fireworks were purchased in January 2013, two months before the attack. Tsarnaev reportedly called the preacher a "kafir" (unbeliever) who was contaminating peoples' minds.
Since 9/11, surveillance on suspected terrorist targets has become easier as a result of the USA PATRIOT Act and other legislation, which often dispense with the requirement for a search warrant under certain conditions. The FBI is allowed to write "national security letters" which are demands for records such as credit card statements, store records, medical records, and almost any other documentation deemed "relevant" to a terror investigation. The law has been criticized for making it too easy for the FBI to pry into the lives of those who are merely criticizing the government.
Internet usage is considered an "electronic communication" for the purposes of criminal surveillance. With a warrant, email communications, text messages, and Internet browsing histories can be intercepted and analyzed as part of an investigation. Under the PATRIOT Act, such surveillance often does not require a warrant. Other tools such as GPS trackers on automobiles have been used by law enforcement, often with controversy, in efforts involving the war on drugs or even innocent targets, as in a case in California. A tracker on Tsarnaev's vehicle would have traced him going to a major fireworks dealer in New Hampshire, had he been under surveillance at the time.