Early Wednesday morning, Chechen immigrant Ibragim Todashev, 27, was shot dead at his Orlando apartment while being questioned by an FBI agent and other law enforcement officials about his connection to Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Law enforcement sources report that Todashev was initially cooperative, but became violent as he was about to sign a written statement confessing to a triple homicide allegedly committed by himself and Tsarnaev. “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,” said a statement released by the FBI. “During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries.”
The murder of Brendan Mess, 25, Raphael Teken, 37, and Eric Weissman, 31, occurred in Waltham, Massachusetts two years ago on September 11. The three men were discovered a day later, with their throats slit, and their bodies covered in marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash. No one has been charged in the case.
Law enforcement sources said that Todashev and Tsarnaev once worked out together at a Boston area gym. So did victim Brendan Mess. Tamerlan’s father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said his son and Todashev belonged to a small circle of Chechens involved in amateur fighting in the Boston area, and that they met “a few times” at events. Mess was also involved in mixed martial arts fighting, and sparred with Tsarnaev on occasion, a friend of both men told the Wall Street Journal.
The FBI became interested in Todashev when phone records connected him to Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI kept track of him over the course of several weeks and questioned him on a few occasions as well. According to one official, Todashev had been cooperative to the point where he cancelled a planned trip to Russia in order to keep talking to the FBI. Todashev’s friends corroborated the FBI’s interest, saying they had been keeping track of him since the April 15 atrocity in Boston. They added that Tuesday night’s interview was supposed to be his last one with law enforcement officials.
Another friend, Umar Taramov, said he and his younger brother accompanied Todashev to meet investigators that night, but left when the meeting dragged on for hours. He was shocked when he returned and discovered Todashev had been killed following a violent altercation. “The Ibragim I know is a very normal guy,” contended Mr. Taramov. “This isn’t someone who would have done something crazy.”
Despite that assessment, Todashev had been involved in two previous incidents. In 2010, he was charged with with reckless operation of a motor vehicle, disorderly conduct, and civil infractions following a crash between his van and a car carrying two women. Todashev had to be restrained by witnesses when he attempt to aggressively confront them.The charges were subsequently dropped.
Earlier in May, he was charged with felony aggravated battery for fighting over a parking spot with a 54-year-old man and his 36-year-old son at Orlando’s Premium Outlets mall. The son was hospitalized after sustaining a split upper lip and getting several teeth knocked out, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Todashev was free on a $3,500 bond after being arrested by sheriff’s deputies at gunpoint, according to Florida court records.
Neighbors who knew Todashev while he was still living in the Cambridge area of Boston, described him as nasty. They also noted that he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev used to hang out together drinking beer and eating chicken on a Harding Street stoop. “I was the happiest person when they moved. … It’s a little more peaceful since they left,” said one neighbor. Another neighbor said Todashev “intimidated” her.
NBC News is reporting that the motive for the triple slaying was a drug deal gone wrong. According to law enforcement sources cited by the network, Tsarnaev and Todashev executed the men when they realized that the victims would be able to identify them. That may turn out to be the case, but it is hard to completely dismiss the Qur’anic implications associated with the crime. Two of the victims were Jews, and the Qur’an designates the Jews the worst enemies of the Muslims (5:82). All three had their throats slit to the point of near decapitation, and the Qur’an instructs the faithful to “strike the necks” of the unbelievers (47:4). It is unclear why, if the murders were indeed the result of a “drug deal gone bad,” a large sum of money and drugs were left behind, leaving the possibility that the scene was crudely staged. That the crime took place on the anniversary of 9/11 is also significant, due to the obsession Islamic jihadists characteristically possess for dates of terrorist attacks and Western victories.
It is not clear who shot Todashev during his interrogation. Along with the FBI agent who was attacked, there were Massachusetts state troopers and the Orlando police in the house during the interrogation. An FBI incident review team from Washington, D.C. was in the Orlando area yesterday investigating the incident. According to procedure, the team will question all the witnesses to the shooting. A separate Shooting Incident Review Group committee, comprised of as many as 13 FBI members, will also analyze the incident to determine if the use of force was justified or not. The agent who was attacked has not been publicly identified, but he is a member of the FBI’s Boston division.
As of now there is nothing to indicate that Todashev had anything to do with the Boston bombings. Officials concede that he had some connection with radical Chechen rebels, but it remains unclear whether he had any role in radicalizing Tsarnaev. According to his father, Abdulbaki Todashev, Ibragim was neither violent or particularly devout. “He is ordinary, like all Chechens, he followed Islam and that’s it.” He further contended that his son was currently “learning to walk again” following an operation, which would have made it impossible for him to take part in the Boston bombings.
Abdulbaki Todashev also questioned the FBI’s version of his son’s death. “How could he attack a policeman with a knife especially, as they say, if there were five or six of them in his house?” he asked.
An autopsy was expected to be completed yesterday, but the report will not be made available while the case remains under criminal investigation. A relative whose name was kept from the public came forward to claim Todashev’s body from the Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Washington Times reported that the condo occupied by Todashev is owned by Roman Shakhmanov, 28, who is currently residing in Houston, TX. At this time the relationship between the two men is unknown.
In a note left behind on the boat where he was hiding, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev claimed he and his brother bombed the Boston Marathon in retribution for U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Dzhokhar called victims of that atrocity “collateral damage.” Sadly, numerous pundits on the Right and the Left have been parroting Dzhokhar’s line, also alleging that the bombing was more or less “blowback” from America’s Middle East forays. Never mind that our missions liberated countless Muslims from the likes of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein and that, in fact, they are now all but abandoned. Certainly, if anything strikes at the heart of the discredited “blowback” hypothesis, it is the 2011 9/11 anniversary slaying. The brutal murder of the three Boston men allegedly committed by Tamerlan Tsarnaev — something it is virtually impossible to believe that Dzhokhar would have been unaware of — proves that the Tsarnaevs were not driven by politics but driven by bloodlust. They were adherents to an ideology that nurtures the human capacity for evil. And they became monsters.
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