Tag Archives: FBI

FBI Pushed Tamerlan Tsarnaev To Be Informer

FBI pushed elder Tsarnaev to be informer, lawyers assert

By Milton J. Valencia

Globe staff   March 28, 2014
Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asserted Friday that his older brother and alleged accomplice had been encouraged by the FBI to be an informant and to report on the Chechen and Muslim community, according to court records.

“We seek this information based on our belief that these contacts were among the precipitating events for Tamerlan’s actions during the week of April 15, 2013, and thus material to the defense case in mitigation,” the lawyers said in their court filing.

“We base this on information from our client’s family and other sources that the FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor [his father], Zubeidat [his mother] and Tamerlan, questioned Tamerlan about his Internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community.

“We do not suggest that these contacts are to be blamed and have no evidence to suggest that they were improper, but rather view them as an important part of the story of Tamerlan’s decline. Since Tamerlan is dead, the government is the source of corroboration that these visits did in fact occur and of what was said during them.”

The lawyers suggested that Tamerlan Tsarnaev could have misinterpreted his interactions with the FBI as pressure from the agency, and that they could have “increased his paranoia and distress.”

The defense wants to investigate those factors as it seeks to portray Tamerlan as a dominating family figure who may have pushed the younger Dzhokhar to take part in the April 15 bombings last year. Tamerlan was killed days after the bombings in a confrontation with police in Watertown.

The lawyers’ allegation, based on conversations with family members and other sources, was made in a 23-page court filing Friday in which the lawyers sought a court order forcing prosecutors to turn over more evidence in the case.

Specifically, they want additional evidence about Tamerlan’s radical views, which would be useful in the lawyers’ defense against the death penalty.

Lawyers argued that, now that prosecutors have declared they will seek capital punishment, Dzhokar should be allowed to present evidence of mitigating factors that would tilt a jury against the death penalty.

Those factors include evidence about his age at the time of the bombings, which was 19, his lack of criminal history, and the possible influence of others, specifically a radical older brother, court records said.

“The underlying data concerning the brothers’ activities, state of mind, and respective trajectories is critical,” the defense said. “Evidence that shows Tamerlan to have had a substantially longer and deeper engagement than his younger brother with extremist and violent ideology is mitigating for the light that it sheds on their relative culpability.”

Prosecutors did not immediately respond to the defense request, though defense lawyers conceded that they have a March 14, 2014, letter in which prosecutors said they had “no evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was solicited by the government to be an informant.”

Although the FBI does not comment on court matters, the bureau cited a statement Friday that it made Oct. 18, 2013, which said, “The Tsarnaev brothers were never sources for the FBI, nor did the FBI attempt to recruit them as sources.”

Dzokhar Tsarnaev, now 20, faces a 30-count indictment in his alleged role in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260. He and Tamerlan also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer before the confrontation with police in Watertown.

Tsarnaev is being held at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer. He is slated to go to trial in November.

Prosecutors have described him as a young Muslim extremist who wanted to carry out jihad, or holy war, against the United States. They alleged the brothers learned to build the bombs through websites that supported Al Qaeda.

In court requests filed late Friday, the defense lawyers sought a court order to force prosecutors to turn over a list of records, including reports related to the fatal shooting of MIT police Officer Sean Collier, the Watertown confrontation, and any evidence that an MBTA police officer was shot by fellow officers, rather than by Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who the lawyers say was unarmed.

The request also targets records of the brothers’ Internet searches.

One of the court requests asked for any information prosecutors collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act including any surveillance of Tamerlan’s return visits to Dagestan and the Chechnya region before the bombings.

A recent US House of Representatives homeland security report indicated FBI officials in Moscow may have collected “electronic communication” between Tamerlan and a jihadist named William Plotnikov.

“Any surveillance, evidence, or interviews showing that Tamerlan’s pursuit of jihad predated Dzhokhar’s would tend to support the theory that Tamerlan was the main instigator of the tragic events that followed,” the defense lawyers argued.

The lawyers are also seeking the immigration records of Tsarnaev’s family members, including his mother, father, and brother.

His father, Anzor, sought the family’s asylum in fleeing torture in Kyrgyzstan close to two decades ago, and the defense lawyers argued that the records would illustrate Tsarnaev’s family history.

They also said that Tamerlan’s immigration records could yield more evidence about his encounters with federal authorities, specifically after his visits to Dagestan that caught the attention of Russian officials.

The lawyers said they plan to argue that the unknowns about Tsarnaev’s “formative environment and relative moral culpability” and the possible “psychological domination” by his brother would support their case against the death penalty.

Globe correspondent Haven Orecchio-Egresitz contributed to this report. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at MValencia@globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/03/28/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-attorneys-seek-government-evidence-tamerlan-say-may-help-defense/PJoDIO3Tdf3zIau7VM9m8L/story.html

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FBI Wanted Tamerlan Tsarnaev as Informant

I’ve been saying this for almost a year.  So now there should be little doubt that FBI knew exactly who blew up Boston before they released his pics to the public.

 

Lawyers Say FBI Wanted Marathon Suspect as Informant

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of planting one of the bombs at last year’s Boston Marathon, said Friday that repeated contacts by the FBI were among “precipitating events” leading up to the bombings.

In court documents filed Friday, defense lawyers asked the judge overseeing the case for an order requiring the government to turn over all records of the FBI’s contacts with Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan. He was interviewed by FBI agents in response to a concern expressed by the Russian government that he might become radicalized.

“We seek this information based on our belief that these contacts were among the precipitating events for Tamerlan’s actions during the week” of the bombings, the lawyers aid.

They wrote that the Tsarnaev family and “other sources” have said that the FBI made more than one visit to talk to Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his parents, during which agents “questioned Tamerlan about his internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community.”

The court filing quotes prosecutors as saying they have no evidence that the older Tsarnaev was asked to be an informant.

Nonetheless, the defense lawyers say they believe that Tamerlan misinterpreted the visits by the FBI as pressure, increasing his paranoia and distress.

“We do not suggest that these contracts are to be planed and have no evidence to suggest that they were improper,” the lawyers say.

The FBI’s interview took place in 2011.

The court document makes clear that his lawyers will stress the age difference between the younger Tsarnaev and his older brother, who were 19 and 26 at the time of the bombing. The lawyers say they will resist any attempt to persuade the jury “that the brothers were equally culpable, despite the marked differences in their ages, personalities, and levels of prior involvement in violent activity.”

No trial date has yet been set.

—Pete Williams

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FBI Bars Florida From Releasing Todashev Autopsy Report

Ridiculous.

By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff

A Florida medical examiner’s office said Tuesday that the FBI has ordered the office not to release its autopsy report of a Chechen man fatally shot by a Boston FBI agent in May because of the federal agency’s active internal investigation into his death.

The medical examiner’s office said it completed the autopsy report on Ibragim Todashev, a friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber c, on July 8 and that the report was “ready for release.” The agent shot and killed Todashev on May 22 in his Orlando apartment during an interrogation related to the Boston Marathon bombings.

“The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando, said in a letter to the media today. Miranda said state law bars his office from releasing the report if an criminal investigation is ongoing.

The FBI and the Justice Department are conducting an internal inquiry into the shooting, but critics have called for an independent inquiry, questioning the blanket of secrecy surrounding the case.

The FBI and the Massachusetts State Police sought out Todashev after the Marathon bombings, but have refused to release details of the shooting. Media reports have provided conflicting accounts: Some said Todashev attacked the agent with a blade during an interrogation, while others said Todashev was unarmed. Another said he lunged at the agent with a metal pole or a broomstick.

The medical examiner’s office said it would check with the FBI every month for permission to release the autopsy report, and that such delays most frequently happen with homicide cases.

According to media reports, Todashev was about to sign a confession implicating himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who is now dead, in the 2011 slayings of three men in Waltham. Instead, Todashev lunged at the agent, who was injured, according to reports. The agent shot Todashev multiple times, according to family members who released photos of Todashev’s dead body as part of their call for an inquiry into his death.

Family members and advocacy groups have questioned the media accounts, pointing out that Todashev had repeatedly cooperated with the FBI and had been weakened by recent knee surgery.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the ACLU have called for independent inquiries into the shooting.

The council said in a letter to the Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI and is participating in the internal inquiry, that FBI agents had approached Todashev in an aggressive manner. In one instance, the council said, six law enforcement agents drew their guns and pushed Todashev to the ground.

Todashev, a 27-year-old ethnic Chechen like Tsarnaev, came to America in 2008 to study English and won asylum that year from his native Russia. He lived in Allston and Cambridge before moving south to Florida.

A mixed martial arts fighter, Todashev was arrested in 2010 in Boston for a road-rage incident and again in Florida weeks before he was killed for allegedly beating a man in a fight over a parking space.

According to CAIR in Florida, which is conducting its own investigation into Todashev’s slaying, Todashev had spoken to the FBI at least three times at their offices after the Marathon bombings. Family and friends have said he postponed a trip home to Chechnya to speak with the FBI the night of May 21, staying up with them past midnight until he was killed.

Maria Sacchetti can be reached at msacchetti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti

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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.  http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/05/29/islamic-group-calls-for-justice-department-probe-into-shooting-marathon-bombing-suspect-associate/ehHJmRdLDI8a1XM5mOeWKO/story.html

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

ORLANDO, Fla. —

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.

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/muslim-civil-rights-group-calls-doj-investigation-/nX6T4/

 

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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.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/officials-man-who-knew-boston-bomber-was-unarmed-when-shot/2013/05/29/21f05b74-c8a8-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html

 

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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 marsenault@globe.com. ­Follow him on Twitter ­@bostonglobemark.

 

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/05/24/shooting-slaying-suspect-ibragim-todashev-florida-involved-fbi-agent-from-boston-office/lQpwweme1EzUqINkue8fGO/story.html

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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 rezendes@globe.com; Bob Hohler at hohler@­globe.com.

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