POLITICS
04/21/2013 10:39 am ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

Lindsey Graham: FBI 'Dropped The Ball' With Boston Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the FBI had dropped the ball in investigating Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, after the Russian government had raised concerns to U.S. authorities that Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam.

"Once you're brought to attention by a foreign government, I think you should have a red flag put then, to be taken off later," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "The ball was dropped in one of two ways -- the FBI missed a lot of things, [or] there's one potential answer [that] our laws do not allow to follow up in a sound solid way. There was a lot to be learned from this guy. He was on websites talking about killing Americans. He went overseas ... he was clearly talking about radical ideas. He was visiting radical areas."

"The fact that we could not track him has to be fixed," Graham added. "It's people like this that you don't want to let out of your sight, and this was a mistake. I don't know if our laws are insufficient or the FBI failed, but we're at war with radical Islamists and we need to up our game."

The FBI said Friday that it had received information about Tsarnaev in early 2011 from a "foreign government." Law enforcement officials confirmed Saturday that the tip had come from the Russian FSB intelligence security service. They said the FBI had interviewed Tsarnaev and his relatives in response but found no evidence of domestic or foreign terrorist activity. Authorities also looked into his travel history, telephone communications, use of online websites and education.

Rep Peter King (R-N.Y.) also went after the FBI for not keeping Tsarnaev on a watch list after questioning.

"This is at least the fifth case I'm aware of where the FBI has failed to stop someone," King said on "Fox News Sunday," citing the examples of Anwar al-Awlaki, Nidal Malik Hasan, Carlos Bledsoe and David Coleman Headley.

"This is the latest in a series of cases like this ... where the FBI is given information about someone as being a potential terrorist," he added. "They look at them, and then they don't take action, and then they [those individuals] go out and commit murders."

King, who is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, referred to online postings from Tsarnaev about "radical imams" and called for more surveillance of Muslims in America.

"If you know a threat is coming from a certain community, you have to go after that," King said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed early Friday morning in a confrontation with law enforcement in Watertown, Mass. His younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured late Friday and remains in the hospital in serious condition.

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