FBI Denies Claim it was Surveilling Tsarnaevs Before MIT Shooting

The former Norfolk Street home of alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, in Cambridge.
The former Norfolk Street home of alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, in Cambridge.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

The FBI is strongly denying a claim that the Tsarnaev brothers were identified and under surveillance before they allegedly shot an MIT officer to death on the campus last year.

MIT patrol supervisor Sgt. Clarence Henniger made the claim during an interview with oral historians from Northeastern University that was later picked up for a piece by WBUR.

“The word was out, regarding the suspects—we know how they looked like, and we knew that they lived in the city of Cambridge at one point,” Henniger said. “…We knew that his house was under surveillance, and the Feds were all over the city of Cambridge…knowing that he, they lived there. So we were aware of that.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

However, Boston Magazine reports:

...when contacted by Boston [Magazine], Henniger admitted that his information is not based in fact. "We were just assuming," Henniger said. "We had an idea that they had already put it together who they were."

Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI office, Kieran Ramsey, told the magazine Henniger was “absolutely uninformed” and called the claim “patently false.”

It’s not the first time the agency has responded to similar claims. In 2013, the FBI issued this statement in response to questions posed by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and other media inquiries.

There has been recent reporting relating to whether or not the FBI, Boston Police, Massachusetts State Police or other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force knew the identities of the bombers before the shootout with the alleged marathon bombing suspects, and were conducting physical surveillance of them on April 18, 2013. These claims have been repeatedly refuted by the FBI, Boston Police, and Massachusetts State Police.

To be absolutely clear: No one was surveilling the Tsarnaevs and they were not identified until after the shootout. Any claims to the contrary are false. [emphasis theirs].