In a statement issued late Friday, the FBI said that "in early 2011, a foreign government asked the FBI 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 FBI said it looked for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history but "did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign."
In the view of Swift, who studies Islamic radicalization, "This is two young men trying to find an identity. These are not people who fought in the war in Chechnya, they're not people who had any close, proximate relationship to that conflict."
Swift said, "There is no evidence that these young men were seeking to make a point about Chechnya per se."
He said he believes it is more likely that they were trying to make a point about themselves, as if to say: 'We are warriors. we have been wronged, people do not understand us and we must be heard.' "