U.S. intelligence agencies had added the mother of the Boston bombing suspects to a government terrorism database 18 months before the bombings, U.S. officials told the Associated Press late Friday.
The CIA had asked for the older suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev - now dead - and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, to be added to a terrorist database in the fall of 2011.
The request came after the Russian government contacted the agency with concerns that both had become religious militants, according to officials briefed on the investigation.
The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the ongoing case.
The mother called the information "lies and hypocrisy" and said she has never been linked to crimes or terrorism.
An aerial photo in Friday's Boston Globe showed a line of more than 20 investigators, all dressed in white overalls and yellow boots, picking over the garbage with shovels or rakes.
The revelation that the FBI had also investigated Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and the CIA arranged for her to be added to the terrorism database deepened the mystery around the family.
The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens from southern Russia who immigrated to the Boston area in the past 11 years. Tsarnaeva, a naturalized U.S. citizen who has appeared on television interviews since the attacks and reversed her decision to return to the U.S. after the bombings, has said her sons could never have been behind the deadly attacks and believes they were framed.
Dzhohkar Tsarnaev is charged with joining with his older brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs. He could face the death penalty.
Meanwhile, the father of the Boston bombing suspects has accused the FBI of “setting up” his sons.
“They just wanted to set up Tamerlan, and Dzhokhar just turned out to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Anzor Tsarnaev told the Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
“Tamerlan was driving him to school when they started shooting at them,” he said. “This is a set-up, a political order, a Hollywood show.”
In an earlier interview with the U.S. media, Anzor described Dzhokhar as a “true angel.”
Dzhokhar was captured late Friday after a police hunt following last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, which left three people dead and 180 injured.
Anzor denied that Tamerlan held radical Islamist views.
“Tamerlan did get religious after getting married. He went to the mosque every Friday. He prayed five times a day. He was a righteous Muslim, and could not have done what he is accused of.”
Dzhokhar “was an A-grade student at Cambridge. He worked as a lifesaver at a pool. He had big plans: to become a doctor, to open a business, to come over here,” Anzor said.
“He said: ‘Dad, don’t worry. I’ll finish studying and come over, I’ll help you.’”