Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ibragim Todashev Autopsy Photos: Warning Graphic Content

Updated:  Here is the link to a Russian site containing the most complete set of photos available online.  Warning:  Graphic Content.  The following images were originally published on the website Кавказская политика Kavkazskaya Politika (Politics of the Caucasus).


These are the currently available online photos of Ibragim Todashev after his death by multiple FBI gunshots.  Correction:  See above link for most complete set of photos.

Note:  Apparently, these photos were taken in the morgue, but it is not clear whether or not they are the official autopsy photos as a caption at the Ottawa Citizen newspaper states that the photos were taken by Todashev’s friend, Khusen Taramov.

Ibragim Todashev autopsy photo

Photo of deceased Ibragim Todashev is held up by his father, Abdul-Baki Todashev.

Ibragim Todashev

Ibragim Todashev

Ibragim Todashev, Abdul-Baki Todashev

Abdul-Baki Todashev holding picture of his son, Ibragim, showing gunshot to head.

Ibragim Todashev’s father: FBI ‘bandits’ murdered my son

Ibragim Todashev, Abdul-Baki Todashev

Abdul-Baki Todashev holds a photo of his dead son Ibragim Todashev

Ibragim Todashev autopsy photo

Ibragim Todashev torso autopsy wounds and apparent gunshot wounds (left), head gunshot wound (right)

Ibragim Todashev, Zaurbek Sadakhanov

Lawyer Zaurbek Sadakhanov shows a photo of Ibragim Todashev’s body

Shot 7 times, once in back of head?  And Ibragim was unarmed?  Really?  I suppose you can argue that the gunshot was to the top of Ibragim’s head, not the back, but still.  Excessive Force does not even begin to describe what happened here.  Excessive Force would be Rodney King; this appears to be felony murder.

Florida, though.  Stand Your Ground law?  George Zimmerman meets FBI?  But in the victim’s home?  At midnight or soon after?  Florida’s law enforcement would never challenge FBI.  Not once.

And, apparently, the FBI did send Taramov away from the scene of Todashev’s death.  I had been wondering if Taramov was just standing outside for hours while FBI questioned Todashev and whether or not Taramov heard the gunshots.  FBI sent Taramov to a nearby cafe:

On the day of Ibragim’s death, Taramov was questioned by the FBI separately on the street, and was refused entry back into his friend’s house, Todashev’s father claimed. He was “sent off” to wait in a nearby café on the grounds that Todashev was still being questioned and that “the interrogation would take a long time.” After some eight hours passed since the start of interrogation and his Todashev’s phone still was not answering, Taramov returned, only to find the street cordoned off with police cars and an ambulance.

“They tortured a man for eight hours with no attorney, no witnesses, nobody. We can only guess what was going on there, until there is an official investigation,” Abdulbaki Todashev said.



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Bella Tsarnaeva pleads not guilty to charges of intent to distribute marijuana

Sister of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Bella Tsarnaeva, was arrested in December 2012 on charges of intent to distribute marijuana.

A sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in a Hackensack, New Jersey, court to marijuana-related charges, her attorney said.

Bella Tsarnaeva, 24, was arrested in December 2012 at her Fairview, New Jersey, apartment after police responded to a call about a domestic disturbance and found what they said was marijuana, said her attorney, Mario Blanch.

The Record said police searched the apartment after smelling marijuana and that Tsarnaeva was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

There is not one member of the Tsarnaev clan that I know of who has not run afoul of the law.  Mother shoplifting at Lord & Taylor, father in Kyrgyzstan for alleged auto theft, uncle Ruslan Tsarni by court order, aunt Maret Tsarnaeva in Toronto by court order,  and now sister for drug-dealing.

Family Tsarnaev is apparently an Obshina cell.

Obshina’s founder was first a student at Moscow State University School of Law:  Khozh-Ahmed Noukhayev


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Todashev shot 7 times, once in back of head?

FBI appears to be playing for keeps.

Khusen Taramov, a friend of Todashev’s who is coordinating the return of his body to Russia and who washed his body in the traditional Islamic fashion, said Todashev’s body had multiple gunshot wounds, including one in the head and several near the heart.

Officials at the Orange County medical examiner’s office said they have completed an ­autopsy and ruled Todashev’s death a homicide and that the office released the body to ­Todashev’s wife. Officials said they will not release further infor­mation until the completion of the FBI investigation.

Muslim civil-rights group calls for DOJ investigation into Todashev shooting


A group that represents Muslim-Americans held a press conference Wednesday to raise questions about the shooting death of Ibragim Todashev.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for an independent investigation by the Department of Justice to find out why the FBI shot and killed Todashev last Wednesday, claiming he was unarmed.

The shooting occurred on May 22 at the Windhover condominium complex near Kirkman Avenue and Vineland Road.

CAIR director Hassan Shibly said the shooting of Todashev was “excessive and unjust.”

“Ibragim was indeed unarmed when he was shot seven times — what appears to be once in the back of the head,” Shibly said.

Channel 9’s Ryan Hughes learned a friend of Todashev, Khusen Taramov, was in the townhome, but said he was asked to leave hours before Todashev was killed.

When he came back a couple of hours later, his friend was dead, Taramov said.

The FBI said an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers were in Orlando to question Todashev about his involvement in a 2011 triple murder near Boston that allegedly involved bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarneav.

WFTV originally reported last Wednesday that Todashev lunged at the agent with a knife and the agent opened fire, but ABC News sources said Wednesday he wasn’t armed.

A medical examiner’s office spokesman said Tuesday his death was ruled a homicide but couldn’t say more because of the open investigation.

The FBI office in Tampa is working to obtain information on the shooting and the status of the investigation.

Last week, all the FBI would say on the record was Todashev became violent and that caused the agent to shoot him.

Todashev’s widow, Reni Manukyan, wiped away tears at Wednesday’s press conference. She said Todashev would never do what he is being accused of.

“I would never expect anything from him. Anything that’s being told about him — that he was down — it would never get to my mind,” Manukyan said.

Manukyan said Todashev had no relationship with Tsarnaev.

“They were never friends. They know each other because they come from the same place: Chechyna,” Manukyan said.

Manukyan said Todashev wasn’t even in Massachusetts at the time of the murders.

The family is still making arrangements to fly the body to Chechnya where Todashev will be buried.

An FBI spokesman in Tampa late Wednesday told Channel 9’s Ryan Hughes that he’s trying to find out any new details with the investigation.


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Todashev was unarmed when shot by FBI agent, according to law enforcement officials

So how was it variously reported that Todashev attacked his interviewer with a knife, blade, large sword, and even a pipe?  What utter nonsense.


By and , Washington Post

Wednesday, May 29, 7:02 PM

A Chechen man who was fatally shot by an FBI agent last week during an interview about one of the Boston bombing suspects was unarmed, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

An air of mystery has surrounded the FBI shooting of Ibragim Todashev, 27, since it occurred in Todashev’s apartment early on the morning of May 22. The FBI said in a news release that day that Todashev, a former Boston resident who knew bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed during an interview with several law enforcement officers.

The FBI has provided few other details, saying that the matter is being investigated by an FBI review team that may not finish its probe for several months.

“The FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in a statement Wednesday. “The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday called for an independent investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Officials said the division and local prosecutors are already reviewing the case.

At the time of the shooting, Todashev was being interviewed about his possible connection to a triple murder in Waltham, Mass., on Sept. 11, 2011. Law enforcement officials said he had acknowledged involvement in the murders and had implicated Tsarnaev. Officials said Todashev was not suspected of involvement in the April 15 Boston bombing.

Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police four days after the bombing. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured later that day and remains in custody.

In the statement about Todashev’s shooting issued on the day of the incident, the FBI said that an agent, along with two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law enforcement personnel, were interviewing “an individual” in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a “violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.”

An agent sustained non-life-threatening injuries, later described by one law enforcement official as “some cuts and abrasions.”

Initial reports citing anonymous law-enforcement individuals provided conflicting accounts of what happened. Some law enforcement officials said Todashev wielded a knife and others suggested that he attempted to grab the FBI agent’s gun.

One law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said Wednesday that Todashev lunged at the agent and overturned a table. But the official said Todashev did not have a gun or a knife. A second official also said Todashev was unarmed.

An official said that according to one account of the shooting, the other law enforcement officials had just stepped out of the room, leaving the FBI agent alone with Todashev, when the confrontation occurred.

The shooting followed hours of questioning by the law enforcement officials that had begun the night before.

Todashev’s father said after the shooting that he didn’t believe the FBI’s account of why they killed his son.

“My son could never commit a crime, I know my son too well,” Abdul-Baki Todashev, who lives in Chechnya, told the Daily Beast Web site. “He worked helping disabled people in America and did sports, coached other sportsmen. The FBI made up their accusations.”

Todashev, a martial arts fighter, met Tamerlan Tsarnaev in fighting circles in Boston before Todashev moved to Orlando.

Todashev’s family said he had a ticket to fly to Russia this month and planned to spend the summer in his native Chechnya.


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Shooting of slaying suspect Ibragim Todashev in Florida involved FBI agent from Boston office

Globe Staff  –  May 25, 2013

ORLANDO — An FBI agent from the bureau’s Boston office fired the shot, or shots, that killed a friend of Boston ­Marathon bombing suspect ­Tamerlan Tsarnaev early Wednesday morning during an interview about an unsolved Waltham homicide, say officials briefed on the investigation.

Ibragim Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter formerly from Allston and Cambridge, was shot in the kitchen of his apartment after overturning a table and attacking the agent with a blade, the officials said. The Globe has ­reported that the shooting came after Todashev had implicated himself in a grisly 2011 triple homicide in Waltham. ­Tamerlan Tsarnaev was friendly with one of the Waltham victims, and authorities suspect he may also have taken part in the slayings.

Two law enforcement officials said that the Boston FBI agent felt he was in grave danger when Todashev attacked him and that he fired in self-defense.

“This was a tough guy; he was a dangerous individual,” one law enforcement official said, speaking of Todashev. The official asked not to be named because the official was not ­authorized to discuss the case.

An FBI team from Washington, D.C., is investigating what happened in the apartment.

FBI spokesmen in Boston, Florida, and Washington had no comment Friday.

Some of Todashev’s neighbors recalled hearing a series of loud bangs during the early morning hours Wednesday. But loud sounds after dark are commonplace at the condos, which sit in the shadow of Universal Studios, which holds frequent nighttime concerts and events.

“I figured it was just fireworks at Universal,” said Gary Campgana, who lives a few apartments away from ­Todashev, pointing to the amusement park.

Campgana said he had seen Todashev “at the pool a few times, but it didn’t dawn on me that he could have been capable of being involved in all of this.”

The regional medical examiner’s office confirmed that it is in possession of Todashev’s body but would not say how many times he was shot.

“We can’t release any information on that case,” said an employee of the office who ­answered the phone Friday. “Any info has to come from law enforcement.”

Todashev’s friend Khusen Taramov, who accompanied ­Todashev’s estranged wife to identify the body, said he was shown only part of his dead friend’s face and did not see any wound. But doctors told him his friend was shot multiple times, he said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after a shootout with ­police in Watertown April 19. His brother and alleged coconspirator in the Marathon ­attack, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is in federal custody facing a possible death sentence in the bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260. The brothers are also suspects in the April 18 slaying of MIT police Officer Sean Collier.

In Orlando, local police and FBI agents continued to keep watch over the scene of the shooting Friday, as investigators in white jumpsuits and yellow boots continued to move in and out of the apartment’s rear entrance.

Most of the reporters who had been camped at the scene since early Wednesday were gone, and life in the complex had mostly returned to normal.

Todashev’s wife, Reni Manukyan, who traveled to ­Orlando from her home in Georgia to help arrange her husband’s burial, plans to accom­pany the body back to Russia.

Taramov said Friday that Manukyan had been overcome by emotion. “She’s in really bad shape,” he said. “She’s not doing good at all.”

He also cast doubt on ­reports that his friend had violently attacked the agent, saying that Todashev was recovering from a knee injury and that agents had kept tight control over him at prior interviews.

“They wouldn’t even let him go outside to smoke during these interviews,” Taramov said

Taramov, who is helping coordinate the burial in Russia, said the FBI has yet to return Todashev’s identification ­papers, which has impeded the process of returning his body to his family. The bureau has said it will return Todashev’s travel papers and could hand them over as soon as Monday, said Taramov. However, he added, they told him it could take as long as three weeks.

“I’m hoping for three days, not three weeks,” he said.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at ­Follow him on Twitter ­@bostonglobemark.

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Reni Manukyan, Wife of Chechen Man Killed in FBI Probe Speaks Out

The wife of a Chechen man killed during an FBI interrogation in Orlando said authorities also questioned her but never asked about a 2011 triple murder that agents now suggest involved her husband and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

By Paul Sonne

Reni Manukyan seen with her husband, Ibragim Todashev, in an undated photo.

Vkontakte/Reni Manukyan

The wife of a Chechen man killed Wednesday during an FBI interrogation in Florida says federal authorities also questioned her at a separate location on the same day but never asked about a 2011 triple murder that U.S. law-enforcement agents now suggest involved her late husband.

Reni Manukyan, a 24-year-old assistant hotel-housekeeping manager who married Ibragim Todashev at a mosque near Boston in July 2010, says agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived at her house in Atlanta and her mom’s house in Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday night, the same time they started questioning her late husband at his home in Orlando.

Ms. Manukyan says the FBI agents who came to her house asked about alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom she says her husband met after moving to the Boston area from Russia in 2008.

But she says the agents never asked about a Sept. 11, 2011, murder in Waltham, Mass., in which three victims—25-year-old Brendan Mess, 31-year-old Erik Weissman and 37-year-old Raphael Teken—were found dead with their throats slit and bodies covered in marijuana and cash.

The FBI didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency has interviewed dozens of people who knew the suspected bombers.

Two U.S. law-enforcement officials said Wednesday that Mr. Todashev, 27, had made incriminating statements about his and Mr. Tsarnaev’s involvement in that triple murder before Mr. Todashev was shot dead after lunging at an FBI agent with a knife during questioning. Mr. Tsarnaev was killed in an April shootout with authorities in the Boston area.

Ms. Manukyan, an Armenian who converted to Islam before marrying Mr. Todashev, says she met her late husband in 2010 through a mutual friend in Boston. She says she separated from Mr. Todashev last November but was still in regular contact with him and was partly supporting him through their joint bank account. She says she saw him last week when he came to visit her in Atlanta and spoke to him this week.

Mr. Todashev’s death came after roughly a month of heavy interaction with federal law-enforcement officials, contact that Ms. Manukyan says began shortly after Mr. Tsarnaev was identified as the prime suspect—along with younger brother Dzhokhar, who is in federal custody—in an April 15 bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left three people dead and more than 200 people wounded.

“They never, ever—in all the interviews that I had and all the interviews that he had—never did they mention anything about a murder,” Ms. Manukyan said in a telephone interview. “Everything was about the bombing and about him knowing Tamerlan. They would show me a picture of Tamerlan or Tamerlan’s wife or some other guys that I haven’t a clue who they are, but nothing about a murder—nothing ever.”

Ms. Manukyan, who says she has been questioned on more than one occasion by federal agents, says she believes her husband was interrogated from mid-evening on Tuesday until the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, when he was killed.

She said her late husband couldn’t have been friends with the three victims because he “doesn’t have any American friends,” associating instead mainly with other immigrants who moved to the U.S. from Russia. She also said that it’s hard to believe that Mr. Todashev would have been involved in anything related to drugs.

“My husband—he does not do drugs, he does not smoke, he doesn’t do anything like that,” Ms. Manukyan said. “He doesn’t even drink alcohol.”

Ms. Manukyan said she doesn’t believe her late husband would have pulled a knife on the law-enforcement agents. She says her husband has no personal pocket knives and that the kitchen—where the knives in his house are located—is far away from the living room, where the agents likely would have conducted their interrogation. She also noted that Mr. Todashev was recovering from a knee surgery and couldn’t walk well.

Mr. Todashev’s father, Abdulbaki Todashev, also said his son was disabled by knee surgery earlier this year and was learning to walk again at about the time of the Boston Marathon bombings. Abdulbaki Todashev spoke in an interview broadcast by Kremlin-funded television from his hometown of Grozny.

Abdulbaki Todashev, said his son was a “very calm” person who would never hurt anyone.

Even if Mr. Todashev did brandish a knife, Ms. Manukyan said the agents should have been trained to take action that wouldn’t have left her late husband dead.

“This is something they should be trained for,” she said. “They should be trained to not use a gun in any way.”

Ms. Manukyan said she is still waiting for the FBI to release her husband’s body. She says the FBI should pay for Mr. Todashev’s body to be transported overseas for a proper burial in his homeland because he died while under interrogation.

Ms. Manukyan says her husband told her the FBI showed up at his house in Florida shortly after the marathon bombings. “He was outside of his house—the place where he was shot last night—in his backyard, talking on the phone with somebody, and out of nowhere they came and put him on the ground and handcuffed him and took him to the FBI office,” she said.

Ms. Manukyan says that kicked off a series of interactions with U.S. authorities that were becoming increasingly frustrating for her husband.

“They let him go but they took his computer and his phone. For the whole day they were holding his phone and the computer,” Ms. Manukyan said of the first day Mr. Todashev was interrogated.

“Then they were just contacting him pretty much every day, and they were following him every single day, everywhere he goes there were a couple cars right behind him on his tail,” she said he had told her. “They were all over what he was doing, pretty much.”

Ms. Manukyan says her late husband wasn’t a close friend of Mr. Tsarnaev’s but knew him because both men were Chechens interested in martial arts living in the Boston area. She says her husband moved to the U.S. in 2008 to practice his English after attending college in Saratov, Russia, and initially settled in the Boston area because he had a friend there.

She says her late husband did speak with Mr. Tsarnaev in recent months because Mr. Todashev had undergone knee surgery.

“He couldn’t walk,” Ms. Manukyan said. “He couldn’t even go get water for himself, because he wasn’t able to walk with his knee. And that’s when he talked to Tamerlan, who talked to him after the surgery, but before that phone call, he hasn’t called him for years.”

According to Ms. Manukyan, Mr. Todashev lived in the Boston area from 2008 to 2010 before moving to the Atlanta area a few months after their marriage in July 2010. She says she and her husband moved to the Orlando area in 2011, in part because he had friends there and it was a better place for the mixed-martial-arts fighting Mr. Todashev practiced.

She said Mr. Todashev spent the summer of 2011 in Boston because of a transportation job he landed there. She says she believes her husband returned to Florida before September 2011—when the triple murder took place—but she’s not sure about the exact dates.

Ms. Manukyan, who moved to the U.S. in 2006, says her late husband was religious and attended services at a mosque most every week, but she said there was “nothing crazy” about his beliefs and no radicalism she detected.

She also said Mr. Todashev had retained a lawyer to deal with an unrelated parking-lot altercation but that he wasn’t using a lawyer in dealing with the FBI.

Meanwhile, Damien Trites, a mixed-martial-arts fighter who trained alongside Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Mr. Todashev, said it was hard to understand how Mr. Todashev could have played a role in the triple murder.

Mr. Trites, 33, was also friends with Mr. Mess, one of the victims from the 2011 killing. All four men worked out at the Wai Kru gym in Boston, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Mr. Mess were good friends.

Despite that bond, Mr. Trites said allegations that Mr. Tsarnaev was responsible for the deadly marathon bombings leads him to believe Tamerlan could have killed before. But Mr. Todashev’s alleged involvement in the murders is more puzzling.

“There’s no doubt about it, he wasn’t normal,” Mr. Trites said of Mr. Todashev. “You don’t go at a police officer with a knife. You’re asking for trouble. I don’t blame them for killing him, but I don’t know, man, something doesn’t add up.”

While Mr. Tsarnaev and Mr. Mess were friends, Mr. Todashev didn’t seem to know Mr. Mess, Mr. Trites said. And he didn’t appear very close to Mr. Tsarnaev, either, according to fighters and acquaintances.

“Honestly, I don’t think that Ibrahim killed them,” Mr. Trites said. “I really don’t. I don’t see what motive he would have.”

Mr. Todashev did share some commonalities with Mr. Tsarnaev, at least on the surface. They were tough men, an MMA fighter and boxer, with Chechen backgrounds who trained at the same gym and at one point lived only blocks away from each other in Cambridge, Mass. They both dressed well, with a flashy, European look. They were also Muslims who prayed before working out, Mr. Trites said.

But they didn’t pray together, or even talk much in the gym, he said, and they had very different personalities. Mr. Tsarnaev was outgoing and jocular, Mr. Todashev serious and reserved, rarely smiling.

“It was hard to get a conversation out of him,” Mr. Trites said. “If I got the kid to smile, I was happy.”

Mr. Todashev also appeared ready for combat outside the MMA arena or within. He didn’t train with a toned-down style like other fighters, and was always fighting at full throttle, his Boston training partner said. He got into two driving-related altercations in Florida and Massachusetts, according to local records. He came into the gym once with a black eye.

“Ibragim used to fight a lot, even outside the gym,” Mr. Trites said. “He used to get into street fights a lot.”

Mr. Trites, 33, now lives in Springfield, Mass. But he was close with Mr. Mess when he worked out at Wai Kru. They bonded over the clothing brand Crooks & Castles, which they both wore. Mr. Mess was skilled in Brazilian jiu-jitsu before he turned his focus to boxing, Mr. Trites said.

Mr. Trites recalled seeing Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the gym about a year ago during a trip to Boston. It was the first time they had seen each other since the triple murder, because Mr. Trites was living in Springfield at the time, and he wanted to express his condolences to Mr. Mess’s friend.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev “was like, ‘yeah it’s crazy, he obviously was involved in something that none of us knew about,’ ” Mr. Trites recalled. Mr. Tsarnaev also described how drugs were found at the scene.

Mr. Trites had more contact with Mr. Todashev because they were both MMA fighters, and Mr. Tsarnaev, “an unbelievable boxer,” didn’t train much with the MMA guys. Like other fighters who squared off with Mr. Todashev, Mr. Trites said he was unorthodox and difficult to train for. He threw a different kind of kick and had an unusual wrestling style.

But they worked closely together. Mr. Todashev helped his partner train to beat another fighter Mr. Todashev had faced, and Mr. Trites worked his partner’s corner for a few fights. Mr. Trites can’t understand what would link Mr. Todashev to the triple murders.

But “he can’t answer any questions. You’re not going to hear his side of the story because he’s dead,” Mr. Trites said.

In a statement Thursday, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said “this office and its law enforcement partners have conducted a thorough, far-reaching investigation beginning in 2011 when this horrific crime occurred.” She also said the investigation “has not concluded and is by no means closed.”

–Jon Kamp and Alan Cullison contributed to this article.

Write to Paul Sonne at link no longer working or available, but the story was mirrored here:


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Waltham killings finally get some press, because FBI-Boston has some explaining to do

Note how this article leads with stories of Brendan’s alleged violent past, stories never reported before as far as I know.  Why is that?  Because, back in 2011 when Mess and his associates were killed, FBI-Boston and the CIA just wanted the triple-homicide to quietly disappear, to be forgotten about by the public.  Now, they need to demonize Brendan and his associates so that the public won’t much care that their 2011 killings were not vigorously investigated and their killers (Tamerlan, Dzhokhar, Todashev) never found.  The FBI/CIA hopes that the public and media just throw up their hands and shrug off the deaths of more violent drug dealers, violent immigrants, and violent terrorists.  But any aware onlooker should realize that, if Tamerlan had been arrested for these murders in 2011, the Boston Bombing Attack never happens.


By Michael Rezendes and Bob Hohler

May 24, 2013

On a Sunday afternoon in summer 2010, Brendan H. Mess, a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a specialist in mixed martial arts, was walking along a Cambridge street when he came face to face with a police officer. The patrol­man was investigating a complaint that Mess, then 24, had attacked a group of people near Inman Square, breaking one man’s nose and leaving another with a bloody mouth.

Rather than cooperate, Mess began yelling at the officer, at one point saying, “I can knock you out if I wanted to,” according to the officer’s ­report. Soon, three additional officers arrived, and Mess was hit with a chemical spray, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed.

Even then, police said, Mess continued threatening the officers.

A year later, Mess was dead, his throat slashed in a grisly triple homicide in Waltham on Sept. 11, 2011, that was widely assumed to be a drug deal gone bad and all but forgotten. But 18 months later it has burst again into the public eye, an international incident with links to the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, a man shot this week in Orlando, Fla., and a world of extreme violence they inhabited.

“This is an ongoing investigation, and clearly there are some very dangerous people ­involved in this whole series of crimes,” Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said Thursday.

Authorities now say bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have helped kill the three men, along with Ibragim ­Todashev, who was shot by an FBI agent after he allegedly lunged at the agent with a blade during an interview in Orlando.

“The Orlando questioning was focused on what happened in Waltham,” Davis said.

Little has been publicly known of the three men who were discovered in Mess’s apartment, where they had gathered to watch a football game. Investigators said they appeared to have been ambushed, their throats slashed and marijuana covering them.

Killed with Mess were Erik H. Weissman, 31, and Raphael M. Teken, 37. All three were ­familiar to police. Teken, who attended Brookline High School and Brandeis University and whose father, Avi Teken, is the spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation in Newton, had received six months of pretrial probation in 2005 after he was charged with assaulting a woman and maliciously damaging property.

Weissman, who, like Mess and Tsarnaev, attended Cambridge Ringe & Latin School, had run into deeper legal trouble. According to court records reviewed by the Globe, on Jan. 17, 2011, Boston police searched Weissman’s Roslindale apartment and seized more than $21,000 in cash, along with drug paraphernalia and a wide assortment of drugs, including marijuana, hashish, cocaine, and Oxycontin.

Weissman was also charged in 2008 with drug possession with intent to distribute after Boston police stopped him for traffic violations in Allston and found marijuana in his car.

Weissman’s lawyer, Norman S. Zalkind, said Weissman was not attempting to negotiate a plea deal by informing on other criminal suspects, which would virtually eliminate the possibility that the three men were killed as an act of retribution by a drug supplier who may have been involved with Weissman.

“We were working out a very positive situation for Erik; he had a very good case,” Zalkind said, adding that Weissman was challenging the legality of the warrant used to search his apartment. “He wasn’t afraid of any significant problem.”

Friends and relatives of the victims said the apartment was rented by Mess and that Weissman, after having his cash and drugs seized by the police, was staying there temporarily. ­Teken also lived in Waltham.

It has always been clear, author­ities say, that those who committed the killings were strong and skilled combatants. On their death certificates, Mess is listed as a martial arts instructor and Teken as a personal trainer. Yet the three men were overpowered and killed without a shot being fired.

Mess once challenged a person who tried to rob him at gunpoint in Cambridge, said a friend who witnessed the incident. Though the gun turned out to be fake, the friend said, Mess approached his assail­ant and said, “Pull the trigger. Do what you have to do.”

“Brendan was nobody to mess with,” the friend said. “He wouldn’t lay down and get his throat cut.’’

The Globe reported last month that friends and relatives of the victims began suspecting Tsarnaev of the homicides for a variety of reasons, includ­ing a change in behavior after the slayings. The killings also occurred on a date of great significance to jihadists.

Initially, neighbors of the victims said they were told by police that the killings were probably drug related. But some family members disagreed, as did Zalkind.

“With a drug killing, people come over and – bang, bang – it’s over,” Zalkind said. “They want to get out of there as fast as they can.”

It remains unclear whether authorities investigated ­Tsarnaev in connection with the killings before friends and family of the victims began calling Waltham police and federal authorities last month to report a possible link, after Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar, were publicly identified as the suspected Marathon bombers.

But there is no question about Tsarnaev’s ties to Mess, who had recently moved to Waltham from Cambridge at the urging of Mess’s girlfriend, Hibatalla Eltilib, according to friends and relatives of the victims who spoke with the Globe. Mess and Tsaernaev had grown close as neighbors near Inman Square, sharing a love of fighting, as well as hip-hop music.

Newly named Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan on Thursday said she would have no comment on any aspect of the investigation. But friends and relatives of the victims, in hindsight, said police should have examined the relationship between Eltilib, a native of ­Sudan, and Tsarnaev.

Although friends knew ­Tsarnaev to be Muslim, they did not consider him to be an ­extremist.

Eltilib, by contrast, was outspoken about her Islamic beliefs and disdain for many American values, friends said.

“She and Tam got really close and became friends,’’ said a friend of Mess, Tsarnaev, and Eltilib. “This was closer to ­Brendan’s death. They would share stories of their distaste for American culture. She was extremely aggressive and violent and had this radical way of thinking.’’

All the friends and relatives of the victims who spoke with the Globe asked for anonymity due to fear of retribution from a killer who might still be at large.

Eltilib has since returned to Sudan. Repeated attempts to reach her in recent weeks were unsuccessful. It is unclear when she left the Greater Boston ­area, but her departure mirrors those of Tsarnaev and Todashev, each of whom also left the area following the triple homicide. Tsarnaev visited ­Russia for six months last year, and Todashev moved to Florida.

Only in retrospect did Tsarnaev’s behavior after the killings become suspicious to friends and family of the victims. They say he was absent from Mess’s wake a week after the slayings. Friends also wondered why he was absent again the next day when hundreds of Mess’s friends and relatives gathered for a memorial service at Ryle’s Jazz Club in Inman Square, near Tsarnaev’s home.

Several friends said he also behaved strangely during ­encounters in the weeks after. No longer humorous and engag­ing, they said, he was aloof, and one longtime ­acquaintance said Tsarnaev suddenly acted as if he did not know him.

Maria Sacchetti of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Rezendes can be reached at; Bob Hohler at hohler@­

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