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Congressman says Russians believe Boston bombings were preventable

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April 22, 2013: Officers march into position near the blast site on Boylston Street between Dartmouth and Exeter Streets near the Boston Marathon finish line in Boston.AP

Russian intelligence officials believe that if U.S. authorities had acted on warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombings could have been prevented, U.S. Rep. William Keating said Saturday after returning from a congressional delegation trip to Russia.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who met with Russian intelligence officials Thursday, said he was provided with details on how U.S. intelligence agents were warned in 2010 that Tsarnaev was preparing to join a terrorist cell in the southern Russian region of Dagestan, the Boston Globe reported.

Keating told reporters at Boston's Logan International Airport that a top Russian counterintelligence official told the delegation that "if we had the level of information sharing that we do now, then the bombings might have been avoided," according to the report.

He said he learned that information was sent from Russian officials to the U.S. government about Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tsarnaev who was killed by an FBI agent in Florida on May 22 while being questioned in the bombing probe, the Boston Globe reported.

Keating told reporters he agrees with the assessment made by Russian officials on the marathon attack and expects to participate in FBI briefings on the Todashev killing.

On Friday, Keating told The Associated Press that Russian officials showed him a letter they sent to the FBI in March 2011, warning that Tsarnaev had plans to join insurgents in Chechnya.

Keating said the letter contained a lot of details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including his birthday, telephone number, cellphone number, where he lived in Cambridge and information about his wife and child. He said it also referenced the possibility that Tsarnaev might be considering changing names.

The Russians also had information about his mother, including her Skype address, Keating said.

Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police three days after the April 15 bombing. Authorities believe he carried out the attack with his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured alive and remains in custody.

Keating told the AP that the Russians believed Tsarnaev wanted to go to Palestine and engage in terrorist activities, but was unable to master the language.

“That was the level of detail they were providing in this letter,” Keating said.

FBI officials declined comment Friday.

After getting the March 2011 letter from the Russians, the agency did a cursory investigation and closed its assessment on Tsarnaev.

The April 15 Marathon explosions killed three people and injured more than 260.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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