Tamerlan Tsarnaev, FBI, Boston Bombing
Tamerlan Tsarnaev  Photo credit:  Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Dave Newman / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

WhoWhatWhy has discovered that the FBI secretly flagged at least one of the “Boston Marathon bombers” as a terrorist threat in his immigration records, despite publicly denying it had done so.

This designation existed right up to the time the bombs went off at Boylston St. on April 15, 2013.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s heavily redacted immigration records, known as an A-file (alien file), were released in February under the Freedom of Information Act and posted online by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). FOIA has a “frequently requested record” provision where multiple request for the same record triggers a “reading room” (posted online) treatment of the records. WhoWhatWhy was one of those requesters.

For context, it’s important to note that soon after the bombing, uncomfortable questions were raised by WhoWhatWhy when it became clear the FBI had long been aware of Tsarnaev. Even some of the mainstream outlets, which almost uniformly have accepted the government’s version of events, couldn’t ignore this reality.

The Bureau steadfastly maintains that it determined the elder Tsarnaev (who died in an altercation with police three days after the bombing) was not any kind of a national security threat. It also denies ever having asked him to be an informant.

And yet a shadowy program used by the feds to keep individuals deemed a “national security concern” from obtaining citizenship looks like the reason Tsarnaev’s naturalization application was held up — to the very moment of his death. This program is called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP).

Significantly, CARRP is also used to manipulate foreign nationals (mostly Muslims) to do the FBI’s bidding by — ironically — flagging them as a “national security concern,” according to an extensive ACLU investigation into the program.

Reeled in by CARRP?


So, what is the significance of holding Tsarnaev’s naturalization application under CARRP?

It would mean that, by definition, the FBI had not ruled out whether Tsarnaev was a  “Known or Suspected Terrorist” (KST) by the time of the bombing.

A KST is a designation under CARRP automatically given to anyone listed on the terrorist “watch list,” which Tsarnaev most certainly was. A lower threat level, or “non-Known or Suspected Terrorist” (non-KST), can also be labeled a “national security concern” if certain “indicators” are present.

There’s also a good possibility that the FBI wasn’t worried about him at all. Instead a ”false” or trumped up KST designation and subsequent delay was used as leverage to get Tsarnaev to play some “informant” role. In FBI parlance, the word “informant” encompasses a wide range of roles — both official and unofficial — that an individual might be asked to perform.

The FBI, as a matter of policy, does not confirm or deny whether an applicant has been subjected to CARRP. And the Bureau almost never confirms or denies whether an individual was asked to become an informant.

Notably, however, the latter policy was ignored when it became patently obvious to observers that Tsarnaev fit the archetypal informant profile: young male Muslim, native speaker from a geopolitically important area, citizenship applicant, with minor legal troubles (which can provide even more leverage over a potential recruit). So, the FBI broke its own policy by explicitly denying they ever pushed him to be an informant.


There are two key documents in Tsarnaev’s A-file.

One is a “Naturalization Applications Routing Slip.” This is an internal routing sheet used to track the movement of files through USCIS.

The other is a copy of an e-mail from USCIS’s Fraud Detection & National Security (FDNS) Directorate instructing an Immigration Services Officer. It instructs the officer to “de-schedule and place in suspense” Tsarnaev’s naturalization application.

Both documents use the CARRP acronym. Taken together, it’s clear that Tsarnaev’s application was routed through FDNS which is where it goes when CARRP is in effect.

CARRP Routing Slip, Tamerlan Tsarnaev

CARRP Routing Slip Photo credit: USCIS.gov

Former FBI Special Agent Mike German told WhoWhatWhy that “the CARRP references in the files are pretty good evidence that CARRP played a role in delaying action on his application.”

There’s another red flag. Despite completing all the requirements and passing his citizenship test January 23, 2013, Tsarnaev’s naturalization approval was put on hold. According to the ACLU, that is a solid indicator an individual has been “CARRP’d.”

The author of ACLU’s report on CARRP, attorney Jennie Pasquarella, told WhoWhatWhy: “That is typical in CARRP cases.” Although the mandated interview and test are conducted, the  agency only notifies the applicant that it “cannot make a decision at this time.” That is because the policy forbids USCIS to grant citizenship — even to applicants who are otherwise “statutorily eligible” — as long as he or she has been flagged with the catchall “national security concern” by the FBI.

FDNS Email, Tamerlan Tsarnaev

FDNS Email Photo credit: USCIS.gov

Ostensibly, CARRP is run by USCIS. In reality, the program has turned the decision to grant or deny citizenship, that is, “adjudication,” over to the FBI. In such cases, USCIS officers have to follow FBI direction on whether to deny, approve, or “hold in abeyance (potentially indefinitely)” an application, according to Pasquarella’s detailed report.

Another red flag indicative of CARRP is whether “the application was denied on specious grounds that appear pretextual.”

Feds Move the Goalpost


Indeed, we now know that the “official” reason for holding up Tsarnaev’s application — “waiting for records” — is false.

The Boston Globe’s Maria Sacchetti, the first reporter to comb through Tsarnaev’s A-file, noted that, “Earlier, a federal report [the Inspector General report on intelligence failures that allowed Tsarnaev to slip through the cracks] had said that Tsarnaev’s citizenship application was delayed because the government did not have his criminal court records from the 2009 case.”

Not so. As Sacchetti confirmed with Homeland Security (USCIS’s parent agency), Tsarnaev had already furnished those records to his immigration officer.

In fact, they are date- and time-stamped with the same date and time as Tsarnaev’s naturalization application: September 5, 2012, at 16:19 (4:19 p.m.) — five months prior to the decision to delay.

The “official” reason for delay has now been tweaked from “waiting for records” to “pending a supervisor’s review,” according to what Homeland Security told Sacchetti.

This kind of “moving the goalpost” matches the type of chicanery detailed in ACLU’s investigation.

The IGs who wrote the “intelligence failures” report included a footnote that complained about stonewalling by the FBI, suggesting they were either misinformed or misled about why Tsarnaev’s A-file was on hold. Similarly, WhoWhatWhy wrote previously of a widespread and growing frustration in the inspector general community over stonewalling by the very agencies they are tasked with overseeing.


“They Were Controlling His Every Step” 

Evidence that Tsarnaev was “CARRP’d” right up to the time of his death adds to the list of contradictions between what the Bureau says publicly about Tsarnaev — and what the record suggests was actually going on with this enigmatic young man.

(1) The Bureau denied knowing who the brothers were — until their mother came forward to report that the FBI had been in regular contact with Tamerlan and other members of the family. “They used to come [to our] home, they used to talk to me… they were controlling him, they were controlling his every step,” she said in an interview with Russia Today.

The FBI put out a press release later that day confirming the mother’s report of previous contact.

(2) Then, having admitted it conducted a six-month long “assessment” of Tsarnaev — two years before the bombing — the FBI said the investigation was closed after it “found no link or ‘nexus’ to terrorism.”

Contradicting that statement, both the FBI and CIA had actually put Tsarnaev’s name on the terrorist “watch list,” stating that he “may be armed and dangerous” and that screening him is “mandatory” if he attempts to board an airplane.

(3) The FBI initially claimed Tamerlan Tsarnaev was first brought to its attention by a March 2011 tip from the Russian government, which alleged he was an adherent “of radical Islam and that [he] was preparing to travel to Russia to join unspecified ‘bandit underground groups’ in Dagestan and Chechnya.”

And yet, two months after the bombing FBI director Robert Mueller admitted in Congressional testimony that Tsarnaev’s name was known to the FBI before Russia’s 2011 warning. Mueller testified that Tamerlan’s name came up in connection with other individuals under investigation.  (Please see WhoWhatWhy’s earlier discoveries on this issue.)

To sum up, the FBI maintains that after conducting its own assessment of Tamerlan, it dismissed Russia’s detailed warning as being “without merit.”

Six months later, however, Tamerlan did just what the Russians said he would do.

He flew to Dagestan by way of Moscow and made theatrical attempts to hook up with underground bandit groups — attempts that may have been real, or contrived as part of some international “sting” operation for which Tsarnaev may have been recruited. Even more problematic, neither government did anything to impede his travel, despite the flag-raising warnings about him on record.

The FBI’s own trail of contradictory statements and backpedaling suggests it has something to hide about its dealings with an alleged perpetrator of a deadly terrorist attack on American soil.

In muddying the record, was the FBI merely trying to cover up its dangerous incompetence, or is there a darker secret to be “protected” from public scrutiny — a scenario in which Tamerlan operated under some kind of government cover until something went horribly wrong?

If so, this would not be the first time that a cover up was the preferred option for America’s security apparatus.

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Good stuff.

Except that he and his brother didn’t do it.

Odd that no one at the trial questioned that the ‘bomb’ backpack was entirely different from the ones the Tsarnaevs were wearing.


Jahar’s was a white/light grey bag and neither were Fox brand.


The trial was a sham, a theater, and all the public got were drawings.


If I remember there were warnings to the crowd in Boston where the bombings took place to not be alarmed by the things going on before the bombings, as it was a drill. Didn’t the same confusion happen in London and the subway bombings? Pretty strange that these were going on the same time as real terror attacks. Confusion reigned, and coverups.

Nels Wight

And, dare we suggest, the wargames, etc, at 9/11?

Mark In Boston

There were no warnings “not to be alarmed” or anything indicating a “drill” was taking place at or near the finish line, or anywhere in Boston before the bombing… that I know of, at least. Zollner, If you can find a solid reference or citation to what you remember, it would be very helpful to everyone, especially the WWW team. I’ve heard this claim before and looked long and hard for a solid reference and I couldn’t find one.

Great work, James.

Jennifer from Chicago

Mark In Boston: the University of Mobile Cross Country coach, Alistair Stevenson, gave an account of what he heard and saw at the Marathon that day. His account suggests that either drills were underway that day, or that law enforcement either had a tip, or at least a suspicion, that something nefarious was underway that afternoon.
Speaking to the local media in Alabama, he stated,

“All that area is under heavy restrictions,” Stevenson said. “I was very scared at the time, but I’m OK now. I wasn’t worried about not getting back to the hotel … I thought there might be more detonations going off.”

While there is no confirmation yet on whether the blasts were the result of a terrorist attack, Stevenson said something he saw before the race was unusual.

“At the starting line this morning, they had bomb sniffing dogs and the bomb squad out there,” he said. “They kept announcing to runners not to be alarmed, that they were running a training exercise.”

He added, “I’ve run a lot of races like this one, but I never saw bomb dogs at the starting line of any running event. It led me to believe that something like (a bomb detonation) might have happened.”

Mark In Boston

Yes, Stevenson has stated, and law enforcement has confirmed, that there were bomb-sniffing dogs that were part of a drill at the starting line in Hopkinton, 26 miles away: and photographed by the Boston Globe. That was in the morning, not the afternoon.

Zoliner commented about “an announcement” and evidence of a drill at the finish line in Boston — 6 hours after the start of the race and 26 miles away from the staring line. Zoliner and many other people make the leap that what Stevenson saw at the starting line was also talking place at the finish line, or misconstrue the location of Stevenson’s experience, altogether.. I am pointing out that to date, there is no evidence or testimony that indicates a drill was taking place at the finish line. That’s not to say there wasn’t a drill taking place, but simply, as of yet there is no evidence of a drill taking place in downtown Boston during the Marathon.


Interesting but not particularly surprising. My money’s on that “darker secret.”


I believe the operative word here is P*A*T*S*Y.


Playbook: watch, wait, don’t interfere…

Sam Nelson

Mike Rivero, What Really Happened, proved the back packs carried by the accused did not match the back packs used by the bombers, which means this too is another inside job with a purpose.

Vivek Jain

Don’t worry, everyone, propagandist Brian Ross is on the case.


The waters seem muddied up damn well in every way to make any inference and all inferences seem possible but inconclusive. Why else would the deep state reps let out a batch of documents particularly like these? I get the creepy gut sense this young man and his brother were being set up as patsies.


Has anybody heard how the aunt pointed out that the backpack used in the bombing was of a different color from the one or ones the Tsarnaev brothers had in their possession?

Comments editor

Thankyou for this question.
Indeed. Problems with the backpack evidence were written about on this site as early as May 2013…..

…and as recently as April 2016…
”What color was the backpack?
How come nobody in law enforcement can seem to get the color of Dzhokhar’s backpack right?
The indictment says it’s black; Dzhokhar supposedly told his interrogators it was brown; but it looks mostly white or light gray to the rest of us. Why has nobody tried to clear that up — or even acknowledge this issue? It happens to concern a major piece of evidence.”


And there’s still no answers forthcoming.


Is anybody brave enough to say that this wing of the FBI is being used for a devilish recipe of terrorizing psyops by committing atrocious crimes in order to frame and blame others, which is designed to herd the populace to actions, like endless war, that the elite desire and to socially engineer denying people more of their rights?

Elisabeth Ritter-Blaser

The case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev silenced from the start,taken away all his rights , not mirandized, request of independent lawyer denied, interrogated through a Gitmo Interrogation group during approximately 2 days after hours of surgery then imposing SAM on him trying him in a court from the start as the guilty one with unassistant counsel should concern every U.S.citizen.The U.S.Government can prosecute and sentence innocent people whenever they have the need to do so to avoid that american people would recognize that the mastermind behind this events is their own Government.


J. Edgar Hoover’s legacy – LoL


With every ‘story’ in this mess, with every crime scene, the Tsarnaev guys don’t match suspect descriptions. Sergeant Clarence Henniger who worked security at MIT said in an interview with WBUR the brothers were under surveillance by FBI in Cambridge before the mayhem in Watertown, just after the bombings. That’s a few days of them being watched.

Comments editor’s note: Sgt.Henniger was Collier’s shift supervisor.

The FBI lied about any prior involvement, about knowledge of their identities, about all kinds of stuff. Looks like they were informants, Tamerlan at least. Still waiting for the video of them doing the bombings, you know, the one that Deval Patrick never seen but said was ”chilling”. I think there’s a secret. So many lies and coverups. I hope Who What Why blow this wide open an expose what’s going on.

Peter Booker

Tamerlan an FBI asset has always been my thinking. Wrong color backpacks is something I don’t know about. Seems not the kind of mistake that would be made if the brothers were being patsied. But all crashes into the wall of the younger brother’s guilty plea, no?

Comments editor

Thankyou for your comment.

Backpacks: we see the light colour of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack as he and his brother enter Boylston Street. We see also that the Indictment – delivered several months after the attack – still states as fact that both backpacks were black. There had been time enough for the FBI to establish the colour of the backpacks.

If the Indictment is correct, and the bomb backpacks were in fact both black, then the light-coloured bag carried by the younger brother could not have contained the bomb.

Tsarnaev never pleaded ‘guilty’.


Neither Tsarnaev carried backpacks matching the bomb-carrying ones. Hence they were both innocent. This was an FBI drill gone live and they blamed everything on these 2 poor boys. Secret agencies -like JFK said- have no place in a democratic society and we should get rid of them. The boys were framed.

Elisabeth Ritter-Blaser

And therefore Dzhokhar Tsarnaev now sits innocent on death row .The Photo of Dzhokhar wearing the light grey Backpack was not shown to the Jury at all.


I too believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an FBI “asset”, but must point out that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not plead guilty and that the backpack he was seen carrying in the surveillance video did not match the the evidence which was produced, and which it was claimed was one of the bags which exploded at the marathon. The bag carried by the younger Tsarnaev in the surveillance video is undoubtedly white or a very light grey, whereas the remnants of the bag which was said to have contained a bomb is definitely black. Most of the legal filings which mention the backpack Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried describe the bag as being black, yet at least one filing also describes the colour of the bag as brown. You would really wonder why they can’t get this basic point straight? If this site would allow links to be posted, I could provide many, but as it does not the best I can do is suggest you see the comments editor’s post below.


The paramilitary group that was present at the scene of the bombing were carrying backpacks exactly like the backpacks that the state alleges contained the bombs. Their identification would lead to those responsible for this false flag.

Comments editor

Thankyou for your comment.
If you are referring to the men in tan trousers and black jackets, they were members of a Civil Support Team – part of the National Guard. The backpacks were standard issue.

There is a well-known photograph of a man wearing a cap with the Craft International ‘Punisher’ logo – and that type of cap was an item in the company’s range of merchandise.


Deep State Operation. You will never get truth or justice unfortunately.


“Deep State Operation” And if it is so “Deep” then how does it come about that you even know about it?

Comments editor

Sir, if you wish to look deeper, I can recommend this article:


Thanks for the link and I did look at it but Peter Dale Scott probably is a next door neighbor of David Ickes.

les hedrom

Guilty pleas are coerced from innocent people all the time by threat of even worse charges if they don’t plead guilty. This is the trouble with secret agencies and secretive government cartels. They are not public servants, we are their dupes and slaves. Deep state is just another word for criminal cartel A.K.A. governments.


“FBI had long been aware of Tsarnaev” – My guess is that they are “aware” of hundreds if not thousands of people who may represent various threat levels. Despite the cowardly bomb attack on the Boston Marathon this was hardly a national security threat any more than a car load of drunken teenagers speeding down a country road.