The news is certain to fuel questions about whether President Barack Obama’s administration missed opportunities to thwart the marathon bombing, which killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Tsarnaev is charged with joining with his older brother, now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Investigators have said it appears that the brothers were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, said the CIA had Zubeidat Tsarnaeva’s name added to the terror database along with that of her son Tamerlan Tsarnaev after Russia contacted the agency in 2011 with concerns that the two were religious militants.
About six months earlier, the FBI investigated mother and son, also at Russia’s request, one of the officials said. The FBI found no ties to terrorism. Previously U.S. officials had said only that the FBI investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
In an interview from Russia, Tsarnaeva said Friday that she has never been linked to terrorism.
“It’s all lies and hypocrisy,” she said from Dagestan. “I’m sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I’ve never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism.”
Tsarnaeva faces shoplifting charges in the U.S. over the theft of more than $1,624 worth of women’s clothing from a Lord & Taylor department store in Natick in 2012.
Earlier this week, she said she has been assured by lawyers that she would not be arrested if she traveled to the U.S., but she said she was still deciding whether to go. The suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said that he would leave Russia soon for the United States to visit one son and lay the other to rest.