WASHINGTON -- The failure by U.S. authorities to spread word of a “jihadist YouTube account” set up last year by one of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers demonstrates a need for federal agencies to change how they communicate about terror threats, a lawmaker argued on Tuesday as he successfully urged colleagues to pass a bill aimed at instituting new reforms.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s placement on a Treasury Department watch list “should have immediately pinged” Customs and Border Protection, as well as other Homeland Security Department offices, Representative Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) said in a floor statement.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed his legislation on Tuesday in a 388-3 vote. The measure would require Homeland Security to update how it gathers and shares data on threats involving weapons of mass destruction.
However, a comparable proposal earlier put forth by Meehan languished in the Senate last year after receiving approval from the lower chamber.
Tsarnaev, 26, died in a shootout four days after the April 15 bombing that killed three people and injured 264. His brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is now in custody awaiting trial for WMD charges, among other allegations.
Meehan added that federal officials should have alerted state and local counterparts to the elder Tsarnaev’s suspicious actions in 2012. The Pennsylvania lawmaker’s legislation would establish a new legal pathway for transmitting WMD threat information to those authorities.
“The potential for homegrown radicalization has increased the need for law enforcement and federal authorities to work together. The attack on Boston this spring proved this,” he added in written comments.