The CIA pushed to have the suspected mastermind of the marathon bombings on a terror watch list 18 months before the deadly blasts rocked Boylston Street, according to multiple reports yesterday that raised serious questions about how closely Tamerlan Tsarnaev was probed before the attack.
The request by the CIA came six months after Russian officials had asked the FBI to look into the 26-year-old, but agents said they found nothing to suggest he had terrorism ties. The Associated Press reported that the two agencies received nearly identical information, which came to the CIA in September 2011.
The developments came as authorities recovered up to 15 discarded fireworks — gunpowder removed, but fuses intact — from a clothing-collection bin behind a neighborhood food market in Watertown yesterday.
An FBI spokeswoman would not say whether the response to the Francis Food Mart on Belmont Street was directly linked to the Boston Marathon bombings. The discovery came after a New Hampshire fireworks emporium owner had said on Tuesday that Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought two mortar kits from his store in February.
“The FBI is conducting investigative activity with our local partners, and of course it’s in connection with an ongoing investigation, so I’m not able to provide details,” bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. “Of course, that would clearly be a consideration, but it would be premature to link the activity to the overall investigation.”
Francis Food Mart store clerk Will Long said a driver from the Planet Aid clothing-donation charity called 911 about 12:30 p.m. after finding what Long described as a double bag containing up to 15 Roman-candle style fireworks. The driver, Long said, usually makes his pickups once every two weeks.
Agents from the FBI’s Evidence Response Unit and ATF responded along with at least one state trooper and Watertown police.
Meanwhile, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect now facing federal charges