Obama defends FBI handling of Boston suspect

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the FBI on its investigations related to the suspected Chechen-origin Boston bombers, even as he praised Russia for its co-operation in the probe into the attacks.

Updated: May 01, 2013, 00:06 AM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the FBI on its investigations related to the suspected Chechen-origin Boston bombers, even as he praised Russia for its co-operation in the probe into the attacks.

"I think that all our law enforcement officials performed in an exemplary fashion after the bombing had taken place. We should be very proud of their work, as obviously we`re proud of the people of Boston, all the first responders and the medical personnel that helped save lives," Obama told reporters at a White House news conference.

19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the lone-surviving suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings which claimed three lives and wounded over 250, has been charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

The FBI has named his elder brother Tamerlan, 29, as the main suspect. He died in a police shoot out soon after the blasts.

"What we also know is that the Russian intelligence services had alerted US intelligence about the older brother as well as the mother, indicating that they might be sympathizers to extremists. The FBI investigated that older brother," Obama said.

"It`s not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother; they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity," he said, when asked about allegations of FBI lapses with regard to Boston bombers.

"The question then is, was there something that happened that triggered radicalisation, an actual decision by the brother to engage in the attacks...And are there additional things that could have been done in that interim that might have prevented it?" Obama said.

Obama, who has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin, twice after Boston bombings, said that the Russians have been very cooperative with the US since the terrorist attack.

"You know, obviously, old habits die hard. There are still suspicions sometimes between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies that date back 10, 20, 30 years, back to the Cold War. But they`re continually improving," he said.

Obama said his Russian counterpart is committed to working him to make sure that there is full cooperation among intelligence agencies not only on this investigation, but also on counter-terrorism issues generally.

The President said that he has asked his top intelligence
leaders to review the standard procedure in place and if there is any need to change that.

"We want to leave no stone unturned. We want to see, is there in fact additional protocols and procedures that could be put in place that would further improve and enhance our ability to detect a potential attack? And we won`t know that until that review is completed. We won`t know that until the investigation into the actual crime is fully completed, and that`s still ongoing," Obama said.

"But what I can say is, is that 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. But this is hard stuff," he said.

"Because of the pressure that we put on al Qaeda core, because of the pressure that we put on these networks that are well-financed and more sophisticated and can engage and project transnational threats against the US, one of the dangers that we now face are self-radicalised individuals who are already here in the US," Obama said.

"In some cases may not be part of any kind of network, but because of whatever warped, twisted ideas they may have, may decide to carry out an attack. And those are in some way more difficult to prevent," he said.

The US President said he has been most proud of the country`s response to the terrible tragedy.

He said that there is a sense of resilience and toughness and the people are not going to be intimidated.

"We are going to live our lives. We`ve got to do everything we can to prevent these kinds of attacks from taking place, but people also understand, in the same way they understand after a shooting in Aurora or Newtown or Virginia Tech or after the foiled attempts in Times Square or in Detroit, that we`re not going to stop living our lives because warped, twisted individuals try to intimidate us," Obama said.

"We`re going to do what we do, which is go to work, raise our kids, go to ball games, run in marathons," he said.

"And at the same time, we`re going to make sure that everybody`s cooperating and is vigilant and doing everything we can, without being naive, to try to prevent these attacks from happening in the future," Obama said.