The suspects “were not making those explosives for nothing,” said Davis. “There was a plan there, and I believe that tragically [Collier] lost his life, but he was truly protecting the citizens of the city.”
Security experts said the relatively high quality of the photos and the state of the investigation gave law enforcement no choice but to put to go public.
Dean C. Alexander, director of the homeland security research program and an associate professor at Western Illinois University, called it “a Catch-22.”
“But the stink would have been even bigger if the FBI had these photos and didn’t release them. These guys could have gone on to something even bigger,” Alexander said. “It seems pretty basic if you’re trying to find the perpetrators.’’
Mitch Silber, an executive of K2 Intelligence in New York and the former director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department, said that as the investigation stalled, the argument for the photos’ release became more compelling.
“I think it was a calculated decision by them because they had run into a bit of a dead-end,’’ Silber said. “They felt the traditional means of identifying them using high-end software wasn’t bearing fruit, so let’s put them out and maybe the public will identify them.’’
US Representative Stephen Lynch, whose district includes parts of Boston, said Saturday that he has a number of questions for US and Russian officials about what they knew about the brothers, and when.
“These are two relatively young men who don’t seem to have the ability to finance what I see going on,” Lynch said in an interview. “They seem to be very well supplied. How do these type of individuals like that get the training and resources to conduct an operation like this?”
Lynch, who sits on a congressional oversight panel on terrorist financing, says another key question is how the alleged terrorists became radicalized in the first place.
“Did that happen with direct foreign assistance, or were there mentors who guided them in this operation and inspired them?” he said.
Lynch, a Democrat who is running in the special election for a Senate seat, said investigators are also scrambling to learn more from the Russian government about why Tamerlan Tsarnaev gave them concern in 2011.
“What was the source of their inquiry? What suspicions drove that? It might have been his associations with individuals there. Were [Russian authorities] forthcoming with the FBI?”
Lynch added that he believes Congress must ultimately play a role in getting more answers and determining if the attack could have been stopped.
In response to written questions, Lynch’s primary opponent, Representative Edward J. Markey, whose district includes Watertown, said he has similar questions, including “whether the bombers had help in their deadly plans, why they struck our country, and what we can do to thwart future attacks.”
“As we saw on Patriots Day, terrorists are now turning their attention to targets that are more difficult to secure,” said the Malden Democrat, who has previously served on the House Homeland Security Committee.
President Obama convened the National Security Council on Saturday for 90 minutes in the Situation Room on the Boston attacks, including an update on the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The president “underscored the need to continue gathering intelligence to answer the remaining questions about this terrorist attack going forward,” according to the White House.
The alleged bomber’s uncle, Alvi Tsarnaev, said in an interview with the Globe that the elder nephew, Tamerlan, visited his father in the restive Russian province of Dagestan, which neighbors war-torn Chechnya.
But Alvi Tsarnaev said he did not know who else his nephew may have been involved with while overseas.
The FBI acknowledged Friday night that a foreign government had asked US officials for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, based on information that he was “a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow and Russian embassy in Washington did not return calls seeking comment.
The FBI and White House pointed reporters to the bureau’s Friday statement.
Also Saturday, federal authorities swept through the same New Bedford residence that they had searched the day before in relation to the manhunt for Tsarnaev. But this time, they left with two men in custody.Continued...