For roughly a day, an anonymous person used the marquee at the bustling intersection of State Street and Erie Boulevard to assign blame for the Boston Marathon bombings at the agency that let one of the suspects slip away several years ago.
The individual leased the white marquee at the former State Theater on Sunday and had it display a message suggesting the Federal Bureau of Investigation had erred in not preventing the bombings. The message likened the agency’s work during the run-up to the bombings to the gaffes that allowed a group of hijackers to perpetrate the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Boston we mourn with you, we’re proud of you,” the marquee read Monday afternoon. “FBI, you goofed!”
Marquee owner John Matarazzo said he normally tries to rent out the sign for at least a week, but sometimes makes exceptions. In this case, he said a customer brought forward a message that resonated with him.
“I discussed it with him and I agreed with him,” he said of the message.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — both ethnic Chechens — are accused of setting off the two lethal bombs near the finish line of the marathon last week. Tamerlan died in a shootout with police late Thursday evening, while his brother eluded capture until being discovered in a winterized boat Friday evening.
When the two ethnic Chechen suspects were identified, the FBI found that Russia had contacted agents in 2011 asking for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. At the time, the FBI was informed the older brother could be preparing to join unspecified underground groups connected with radical Islamic fundamentalists.
FBI agents later interviewed Tsarnaev and family members, but found no evidence of terrorism activity. Tsarnaev was also questioned upon arriving back in the United States in July, following a six-month visit to Russia last year, but ultimately was allowed back into the country.
A call to the FBI’s Albany office was not returned late Monday afternoon.
Matarazzo faults the feds for not doing more to prevent the 9/11 attacks. And now it seems like the FBI dropped the ball again, he said.
“They got another notice on this guy from the Russians — that the older brother had been radicalized,” he said. “They warned us and [the FBI] didn’t follow up on him.”
Matarazzo declined to identify who commissioned the message, which stayed up until about 5 p.m. Monday. Still, he hopes the sign gets people talking about what might have been done to prevent both 9/11 and now the Boston bombings.
“They blew this one, too,” he said. “They can’t make this mistake again.”