WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- The chairman of a U.S congressional committee said possible ties between the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and Chechen militants needed to be investigated.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" the suspect who was killed in a clash with police last week had come to the attention of Russian intelligence when he travelled to his ethnic homeland of Chechnya in 2011.
"Why is Chechnya important? I think the American people need to understand this," said McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "The Chechen rebels are some of the fiercest jihadist warriors out there."
McCaul said he was giving the FBI "the benefit of the doubt" that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was adequately investigated after the receiving the tip from Russian officials but the entire incident needed to be examined. "My obligation as chairman of homeland security is to review these matters to see what if anything went wrong and how can we prevent that in the future."
McCaul said a top priority of the federal government was to see if the Tsarnaev brothers had ties to al-Qaida or with other potentially dangerous individuals inside the United States.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told CNN there were indeed a lot of questions pending about Tsarnaev's apparent radicalization in Chechnya; however he did not see the need to declare the second suspect, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, an enemy combatant and turn him over to the military and intelligence services for interrogations. "At any time what's called a high value interrogation group composed of the FBI, CIA and anyone else can question him without a lawyer in a secured situation and find out whatever they need," Schumer said.
Such information may not be used in a civil trial; however Schumer said it appeared there was plenty of evidence already collected to convict the younger brother.