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US, Russia missed chances to intercept Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Russia warned the US about the future Boston Marathon bomber back in 2011. But when Mr. Tsarnaev returned to Russia the next year, authorities there apparently left him alone. 

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Russian analysts say the affair illustrates a dire need for stepped-up cooperation between US and Russian intelligence services.

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"I would not be surprised if these Chechens arrived in the US under some program designed to help Chechen political refugees from 'Russian oppression,'" says Sergei Markov, a former adviser to Mr. Putin.

"It's a pity that the US Congress is under the sway of cold warriors who think Russia should be isolated and punished. This is the main reason our relations have reached such a low point lately," he says.

"I believe both Putin and Obama want to improve things. And it's possible that this tragedy [is] an opportunity to rethink attitudes, to show Russia to the US public in a different light. There is no doubt that Russia stands ready to cooperate in the security sphere," Mr. Markov adds.

Russians warn of blowback

Russian officials have been quick to fit the Tsarnaev chapter into the Kremlin's overall, and oft-repeated, narrative that US support for Islamist extremists – from the mujahedin who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s through to Chechen separatists fighting Russia, Libyan insurgents who overthrew Muammar Qaddafi, and today's rebels in Syria – only leads to "blowback" that ultimately damages the US and its interests.

Vladimir Kotlyar, a member of the Russian Foreign Ministry's international law council, told the independent Kommersant FM radio station Saturday that the US needs to make a systematic reappraisal of its policies, in particular its current support for Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow strongman Bashar al-Assad.

"It is known that Chechens – sources cite different figures, between 600 and 6,000 of them – are fighting in Syria on the insurgents' side. They are among the most active militants, well trained and comprising the insurgent's 'armed fist'.... It is time the Americans finally drew the conclusion that there are not 'good' and 'bad' terrorists, 'ours' and 'theirs'," he said.

Rumors of Chechen battalions fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan and alongside jihadists in other places have often proved to be false or vastly exaggerated.

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

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