Tag Archives: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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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Waltham victim’s girlfriend says Tsarnaev visited

By Bob Hohler |  Globe Staff    May 25, 2013

The girlfriend of one of three men brutally killed in a Waltham apartment in 2011 said Friday that she told police soon after the slayings that Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been a frequent visitor to the apartment. She is the first to assert that police investigating the killings were aware that Tsarnaev, who previously had been questioned by the FBI for possible terrorist connections, had ties to the victims.

Waltham police and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan have declined to comment on the homicide investigation, which appeared stalled until friends and relatives of Brendan H. Mess reported last month a possible link to ­Tsarnaev after his picture was released as a suspect in the bombings. Ryan declined to comment again last night.

The woman also said her boyfriend, Mess, kept a handgun in the apartment before the slayings and that police told her after the bodies were discovered that the firearm was missing. Friends of the victims had previously said they feared a gun stolen from the apartment had been used to kill MIT police Officer Sean Collier late on the night of April 18 and wound other officers shortly afterward in the shoot-out with police in Watertown.

The woman asked that her name not be used in this report for fear of retribution, although she was named in a previous Globe article.

Authorities have been looking at Tsarnaev in connection with the triple homicide, along with Ibragim Todashev, who was fatally shot this week by an FBI agent after he allegedly ­attacked the agent with a blade during an interview in ­Orlando, Fla.

It was Mess’s girlfriend who discovered the bodies of the three men in the Waltham apartment on the morning ­after they were slain on Sept. 11, 2011.

She said she found the victims — Mess, 25; Erik H. ­Weissman, 31; and Raphael M. Teken, 37 — in separate rooms, their throats slashed, their bodies covered with marijuana.

The woman said she did not describe Tsarnaev to police as a suspect in the triple homicide but rather identified him as one of many visitors to the apartment. Police did not ask her about Tsarnaev after she gave them his name, she said.

“But if they questioned every­one whose fingerprints were in the apartment, I’m sure Tam’s fingerprints had to be there,’’ she told the Globe in a phone interview Friday.

The woman said Tsarnaev, who was born and lived his early years in former Soviet republics, had told Mess in the weeks before the killings that the FBI had placed him on a terrorist watch list.

“Brendan said, ‘The FBI is watching him; they think he’s a terrorist,’ ’’ the woman recalled. “We laughed about it. We never took it seriously.’’

Federal authorities have said that the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of the Russian government.

Mess’s girlfriend said she knew with certainty that he kept a handgun in the apartment. Another friend said earlier this week that Mess had been badly beaten by his marijuana supplier years earlier when he was short on his payment and then familiarized himself with firearms.

Mess and his girlfriend shared the apartment with Weissman, who was struggling financially after Boston police had seized a large amount of cash and drugs in a raid on his Roslindale apartment.

“They were pretty peaceful people, but I know Brendan had one gun,’’ his girlfriend said. “I think it was for protection. I don’t understand why he couldn’t have used it’’ during the deadly assault.

The woman said she never understood what the motive for the killings could have been, other than perhaps a robbery. Although about $5,000 remained in the apartment after the slayings, she said, she was aware that Mess and Weissman had a much larger amount of cash. She could not estimate how much.

She said Mess was such a close friend of Tsarnaev that he often asked her to cook only ­halal meat for Tsarnaev to honor his Muslim customs when he visited.

“I just can’t believe Tam would back stab Brendan like that,’’ she said. “It’s so painful to me, because Brendan was so open and loving with Tam.’’

In the week before the slayings, she said, she had an ­intense quarrel with Mess. She said she went to Florida to visit a friend and “clear my head.’’

She was scheduled to return on the morning of Sept. 12, 2011, and expected Mess to pick her up at Logan International Airport. She said she called him at 7:30 the previous night.

“It was the last time I heard his voice,’’ she said. “He said, ‘I love you.’ ’’

She said Mess, Weissman, and Teken planned to watch a football game on television, but when she called back later to say good night, no one answered. And when she called Mess the next morning, he did not answer.

When she finally reached the apartment and opened the door, she said she was shaken by the grisly scene. Lying in the entry room was Weissman’s body. She discovered Teken’s in the kitchen, then Mess’s in the bedroom. Furniture throughout the apartment had been toppled, she said.

The woman took strong excep­tion to friends of the victims who initially had considered her a suspect in the killings and reiterated their suspicions in Friday’s Globe. The friends said, for instance, that she held radical Muslim beliefs and spoke with Tsarnaev of their distaste for American culture.

“To be honest, I am not a practicing Muslim,’’ she said. “I don’t pray much. I don’t cover up. I drink. Tam would look at me and say, ‘You’re not doing the things Muslim women do.’ To me, religion is about how you treat people.’’

Some other friends of the victims questioned why Mess’s girlfriend, an African immigrant whose family lived in a mid-Atlantic state, left the ­Boston area a week after the slayings.

“After what happened, I was completely shocked and traumatized,’’ she said Friday. “I needed to be with my family.’’

She said she suffers symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which have been exacerbated by the suspicions about her.

“It really hurt my feelings that anyone thought I could be involved in something like this,’’ she said. “I am completely confident in my innocence. I’m a victim in this, too.’’

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/05/24/friend-triple-murder-victim-says-police-knew-ties-marathon-bombing-suspect/tUZsGAQb59kYYXo7emjbHM/story.html

 

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Ibragim Todashev’s killing Wasn’t So Simple

Ibragim Todashev may or may not have pulled a knife on investigators in his own apartment. He may or may not have been ready to sign a confession implicating himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a 2011 triple homicide. All we know is that lethal force was used when Todashev was shot and killed early Wednesday morning, and the only people alive to tell us the truth are the Massachusetts State Police officers and FBI agents who were in the room and pulled the trigger.

The facts: Todashev (pronounced TOE-duh-shev) was a 27-year-old ethnic Chechen who hung out with the elder Tsarnaev in Boston and moved to Florida two years ago. He was shot dead after apparently lunging at an officer after walking away from questioning at his condo near Universal Studios in Orlando. What spilled out in the immediate aftermath were reports that 1) Todashev was about to complete his written confession, perhaps strengthening the case against Tsarnaev; and 2) Todashev pulled a knife on investigators, prompting them to kill one of the only men in America who have known when Tsarnaev turned for the worse. Both of those claims seem a lot less solid today, as law enforcement sources reassess their leaks once again in this information flood of case — and as Todashev’s family speaks out for the first time.


Claim No. 1: He had a knife.

Where it came from: NBC News was one of the first outlets to turn the tide of the story — that Todashev drew a knife on investigators and that, after orally confessing to the triple murder but not yet finishing his written account, he got violent enough to get himself killed on the spot. The Associated Press attributed their own knife account to three anonymous law enforcement officials.

Is it true? We’re not sure, but right now it looks unlikely. A couple of those three officials are now walking back their descriptions to the AP:

Three law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Todashev had lunged at the FBI agent with a knife. However, two of those officials said later in the day it was no longer clear what had happened. The third official had not received any new information.

That’s 66 percent of sources who are “no longer clear” if Todashev had a knife. The New York Times has one of its two senior law enforcement officials claiming Todashev had a knife “or a pipe or something.” In CBS’s report, there is no mention of the knife, but rather a violent “move” that Todashev made:

Law enforcement officials say the 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter made a move that threatened the investigators.

And the FBI’s official statement has no mention of a knife being drawn, but rather a “violent confrontation” which might be the “move” CBS is reporting:

The agent, 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.

Why it matters: Well, one of the big questions is why the FBI used lethal force against Todashev. “This is something they should be trained for,” Todashev’s wife, Reni Manukyan, tells The Wall Street Journal today. “They should be trained to not use a gun in any way.” If Todashev had a knife and charged at law enforcement officials, an argument could be made that lives were in danger. To be sure, he had a history: The Boston Globe describes Todashev as “a professional mixed martial arts fighter with a violent ­record.”

But why shoot, when you’ve got a man with potential answers about the man behind a terror attack on American soil in front of you? “If somebody jumps on you and you have a gun, and you don’t do something, the gun will quickly come into play,” one of the Times sources said. As NBC West Palm Beach reported, Todashev was meeting with FBI agents and two Massachusetts state troopers when he was shot. Outlets like New York’s Daily News reported that Todashev “stabbed an FBI agent” before being shot — that would be harder to do without a knife.

As Gawker’s Max Rivin-Nadler points out, investigators will have to figure out how Todashev, who was being interviewed at his house for three hours, came to be in possession of a knife (and if he actually did) and why a room full of law enforcement agents used lethal force against a man who might have been armed, at most, with a knife. Or something. And they’ll have to deal with the fallout in a larger terror investigation and trial of Tsarnaev’s younger brother.


Claim No. 2: He was going to own up to the murder, on paper.

Where it came from: The string of the Boston marathon bombing investigation has led investigators to Orlando, to look for answers in the gruesome murder on September 11, 2011 in Waltham, Massachusetts, of three men — including an apparent “best friend” of Tsarnaev — who were left with slit throats and covered in marijuana, an apparent drug deal gone bad but possibly worse… or at least a sign that Tsarnaev had been a drug dealer or a killer before he took what had been thought as the fateful trip to Russian in 2012. Todashev had reportedly been questioned for some time, and had admitted to the investigators at his home that he and Tsarnaev were responsible, but he didn’t finish or sign the written confession. And then:

  • “As investigators pushed at him towards a confession, he snapped,” CBS’s Bob Orr reported.
  • “Agents said Todashev was about to sign a confession admitting to a triple slaying that occurred in Boston in 2011,” NBC Orlando reported.
  • “A second law enforcement official confirmed Todashev made the confession,” reads CNN’s report.

Is it true? Well, it’s a dead man’s word versus agents and officials close to the investigation. And Todashev’s Chechen friends and family, who are insisting that they all distrusted the FBI but cooperated — and that nothing like this was suspected in the “final interview.” In the days following the bombing, Todashev’s wife tells WFTV in Boston, “He expected that they were going to come and question him, because they both come from the same place from Chechnya.” That led to a series of interviews and the seizure of his computer and phone, she told the Journal. “He was supposed to be on a plane tomorrow, but he told he had to meet with the FBI,” his father, Abdulbaki Todashev, told The Boston Globe in an interview from Russia today. “They killed my son and then they made up a reason to explain it.” Turns out, Todashev didn’t have a lawyer.

And if Todashev was going to sign a confession and admit that he and Tsarnaev were guilty of the triple homicide in 2011, his friends sure didn’t see it coming. “Several of Todashev’s friends told the Sentinel that the FBI told him this week’s discussion would be his last interview and that he was going to be cleared,” The Orlando Sentinel‘s Jerriann Sullivan reported. Then again, if you were going to sign a confession admitting to a triple homicide, you probably wouldn’t tell your friends, would you?

“I think something went wrong there. I think they just shot him. He didn’t do anything. I know him. He just wanted everything to be over,” one of Todashev’s roommates told NBC West Palm Beach, and his estranged wife added, “He wasn’t involved. So he was not even nervous [to talk with the FBI].” Todashev’s wife could be talking about the Boston bombings, but she was right about Todashev being cooperative. Todashev, according to CBS, had been talking with the FBI since two days after the Tsarnaev brothers were identified. He even postponed that trip to Chechnya to work with investigators his roommates said, making his “snap” seem even more random.

Why it matters: A confession would have solved the triple homicide, and it would have cemented Tsarnaev’s role in that crime. Since reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his miranda rights, investigators haven’t been able to extract information about the Tsarnaevs as freely as they’d like — or at least it hasn’t spilled out in public as much as the people of Boston would like to hear. A confession might have been a big piece in the puzzle of the Tsarnaev brothers. Instead, we’re left with a Jack Bauer-style tale of secret confessions turned deadly, with more questions than answers.

What’s perhaps more puzzling is that the story doesn’t seem to add up: What new piece of information makes a guy who has been cooperating with FBI agents for the last month or so turn on them? Could the seizure of the computer have led to more revelations? Could the threat of jail time have dawned on him? And even more macabre, one of Todashev’s friends told NBC Orlando that he had been questioned with Todashev by agents on Tuesday night — and that Todashev felt like he was going to die. “He felt inside he was going to get shot,” Khusn Taramiv said. “I told him, ‘Everything is going to be fine, don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘I have a really bad feeling.'”


What happens now? The The Orlando Sentinel reports that the FBI’s team of investigators will be picking up the pieces and trying to figure out what exactly happened, as is routine when a suspect who has very important information regarding a terror suspect and unsolved triple homicide is shot to death. The New York Times points out that there may even be public questioning of who, exactly, killed the would-be accomplice: “It was not certain who, or how many officers, had fired on Mr. Todashev.” What we do know is that Todashev’s death isn’t immune to uncertainty, and confusing conflict of facts that have seemingly followed the Tsarnaevs and the FBI for more than six weeks since that fateful afternoon in Boston.

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