Editorial: Did terrorism experts drop the ball?

Did U.S. terrorism experts fail again to connect the dots? That should be among the first questions asked by those investigating the killing spree allegedly committed by two brothers who raised suspicions among Russian authorities more than two years ago.

Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were born in southern Russia but grew up in Massachusetts. They detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding about 180 others, say law enforcement officials. Then they executed a university security officer as police closed in, killing Tamerlan Tsarnaev and capturing his brother.

Their family is from the Chechen region of Russia, home to one of the most vicious terrorist organizations in the world. Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited there in January 2012.
About a year before, Russian officials asked the FBI for information on him. U.S. agents interviewed Tsarnaev family members and told the Russians they could find no reason for concern. Clearly, there was.

Russian authorities must have had some reason for contacting the FBI. They didn’t just draw Tsarnaev’s name out of a hat.

U.S. officials should ask what information the Russians had — then whether the FBI should have asked more questions in 2011. If this is another case of a terrorist attack that could have been prevented, Americans need to know that.