WASHINGTON (AP) -- The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says it s still unclear whether the Boston bombings were foreign-directed, but he says they were clearly, quote, foreign-inspired.

The first congressional inquiry of the attacks started Thursday on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are examining the government s initial response, what authorities knew about the brothers beforehand and whether the deadly attacks could have been avoided.

The chairman is Republican Mike McCaul of Texas. McCaul says the April 15 bombings brought back memories of the 9-11 terror attacks.

McCaul said he fears the Boston bombers may have succeeded because, quote, our system failed. McCaul said the U.S. can and must do better.

During a visit to Katy on Monday McCaul said the FBI never notified Boston police that they were investigating Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

McCaul said, as part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI should have shared that information.

Having worked with JTTF, by and large, they work pretty well, he said. In this case, you know, mistakes were made, and big mistakes that cost American lives. And we can t afford to make those mistakes again.

The FBI investigated Tamerlan in 2011 after getting a tip from Russian authorities.

It said it found no evidence of illegal activity.

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