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April 27, 2013

Officials: Suspects' mother on watch list

BOSTON — The mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was added to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the attack, government officials said Thursday.

Two government officials said the CIA had Zubeidat Tsarnaeva’s name listed along with that of her son Tamerlan Tsarnaev after Russia contacted the agency in 2011 with concerns that the two were religious militants about to travel to Russia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Being in the classified TIDE database does not automatically mean a person is suspected by the U.S. of terrorist activity and does not automatically subject someone to surveillance, security screening or travel restrictions.

The disclosure came as the surviving bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was moved overnight from a hospital to a federal prison medical center, and as FBI agents searched for evidence in a landfill near the college he was attending.

Tsarnaev, 19, was taken from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during a getaway attempt, and transferred to the Federal Medical Center Devens, about 40 miles from Boston, the U.S. Marshals Service said. The facility at the former Fort Devens Army base treats federal prisoners.

FBI agents picked through a landfill Friday near the campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev was a student. FBI spokesman Jim Martin would not say what investigators were looking for.

Tsarnaev is charged with joining with his older brother, now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 260 at the marathon finish line April 15.

The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the U.S. about a decade ago with their parents. Investigators have said it appears so far that the brothers were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and had been radicalized via Islamic material on the Internet instead of any direct contact with terrorist organizations, but they warned it is still not certain.

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