– FBI says man shot dead while being questioned about Boston bombings (Reuters, May 22, 2013):
ORLANDO, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An FBI agent shot and killed a man of Chechen origin who turned violent while being questioned on Wednesday about his connection to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two Chechen brothers suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings.
A friend of the dead man identified him to local media as 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev, who had previously lived in Boston and knew Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers suspected of planting two bombs at the marathon on April 15. Three people were killed and 264 injured in the attacks.
The shooting occurred in an apartment complex near the Universal Studios theme park, where the FBI and members of other law enforcement agencies including the Massachusetts State Police were interviewing the man about the marathon bombing.
“A violent confrontation was initiated by the individual,” the FBI said. A special agent, it said, “acting on the imminent threat posed by the individual, responded with deadly force. The individual was killed and the special agent was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.”
Authorities were also stepping up their investigation into possible connections between Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police, and an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in a Boston suburb that investigators believe was drug related.
NBC News reported on Wednesday that the man killed in Florida had confessed to the FBI that he had played a role in the 2011 murders. A U.S. government official close to the investigation had no immediate comment.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar are suspected of setting off two pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line. Dzhokhar is being held at a prison hospital west of Boston awaiting trial on charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
‘THEY JUST KNEW EACH OTHER’
The friend of the man who was shot Wednesday, Khusn Taramiv, said Todashev knew Tsarnaev because both were mixed martial-arts fighters but had no connection to the bombing.
“Back when he used to live in Boston, right, they used to hang out,” Taramiv told Central Florida News 13. “He met them few times ’cause he was MMA fighter the other guy was boxer, right. They just knew each other, that’s it.”
Taramiv said Todashev and others in the complex, some of whom were of Chechen origin, had been questioned several times by law enforcement agents since the day the Tsarnaev brothers were identified as the bombing suspects.
Law enforcement officials have also interviewed another person of Chechen origin, ex-rebel Musa Khadzhimuratov, at his home in New Hampshire, the New York Times reported last week. Khadzhimuratov had also had contact with Tsarnaev.
Law enforcement agencies are also looking for clues linking Tsarnaev to a September 12, 2011, triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts, where three men including a close friend of Tsarnaev were found stabbed in the neck in an apartment.
News reports said that marijuana was strewn over their bodies.
The possibility that Tsarnaev was connected to the Waltham murders is “being looked at seriously,” said Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the counter-terrorism and intelligence subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee. Other U.S. officials confirmed the investigation did involve Tsarnaev’s possible role.
A source said, however, that while Tsarnaev’s connection to the Waltham killings was actively under investigation, at this point there was no evidence to suggest the murders had any connection to the Tsarnaev brothers’ possible motives or actions in allegedly carrying out the marathon bombings.
A spokeswoman for the office of the District Attorney of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where the murders occurred, said that her office had been conducting an open and active homicide investigation in the case since 2011, and that local and state police investigators were involved. She declined to comment on possible involvement of federal agencies.
Before the Boston bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been listed on multiple U.S. government databases, including a master list of potential terrorism suspects. U.S. authorities also were asked twice by Russia to investigate Tsarnaev for possible involvement with Islamic militants, U.S. officials have said.
Also, on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to meet in Washington with Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Russia’s interior minister. The meeting’s agenda was unclear, but U.S. investigators are anxious to learn what Russian authorities knew about the Tsarnaevs and about what Tamerlan Tsarnaev did during a six-month trip to Russia last year.
– Feds: Man shot after attacking agent was being questioned about Boston bombing suspects and 2011 triple-murder (Orlando Sentinel May 22, 2013):
The Central Florida man who was shot and killed by an FBI agent early Wednesday was being questioned about a 2011 triple-slaying in Massachusetts and about his relationship with the Boston Marathon bombings suspects, federal law enforcement officials told the Tribune Washington Bureau.
The FBI told the Orlando Sentinel that an FBI agent — along with two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law enforcement personnel — were interviewing 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev when a violent confrontation was initiated by Todashev.
Federal law enforcement sources said Todashev — who knew bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev through mixed martial arts in Boston — “primarily” was being asked about a Sept. 11, 2011, triple murder in Waltham, Mass., because officials believe he and Tsarnaev may have had a role in cutting the throats of three men and sprinkling marijuana over the bodies.
The law enforcement officials also said that they had questions about Todashev’s relationship with Tsarnaev, and the fact that the two had spoken shortly before the Marathon bombing. Todashev reportedly lunged at the FBI agent with a knife during the interview.
“During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries,” , FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier, a spokesman for the Orlando region, said in an email statement. “As this incident is under review, we have no further details at this time.”
Todashev was shot in a condo at 6022 Peregrine Ave. in the Windhover community, a quiet residential area near Universal Studios. Todashev’s home address is in Kissimmee; it’s not clear why he was at the Orlando apartment or why he was being questioned there.An FBI post-shooting incident review team has been dispatched from Washington, D.C., and is expected to arrive in Orlando within 24 hours, Couvertier said.
Friend: Todashev, others have been questioned
Todashev lived in a gated community in Kissimmee called Orlando Sun Village, longtime friend Saeed Dunkaev told the Sentinel.
Dunkaev, 25, said he and other Chechens were taken to the Kissimmee Police Department two days ago and interviewed by the FBI for three hours.
They asked a lot of questions about religion, Dunkaev said.
Dunkaev, a California resident and mixed martial-arts fan, is a truck driver who stays with Todashev and other Chechens at Orlando Sun Village when he is in Florida, he said.
Friends at the Kissimmee home traced back to Todashev in public records searches said Wednesday that he was actually living with his girlfriend at the Orlando complex at the time of the shooting.
Near the scene of the shooting Wednesday morning, Khusen Taramov, a 22-year-old who described himself as a friend of Todashev, told several television outlets that his friend was being investigated in relation to the Boston bombings.
Taramov told the Sentinel in an interview in Kissimmee that Todashev knew bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev because both were mixed martial-arts fighters.
Taramov said Todashev had lived in Boston, did MMA fighting with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and that Todashev had last talked to Tamerlan Tsarnaev about a month ago by phone.
Ever since the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing attack, Taramov said, the FBI have been questioning Todashev, and have also talked to him.
Taramov spent almost all of the last week with Todashev because, he said, his friend was scared and tired after weeks of nearly constantly being followed and occasionally questioned by FBI agents.
“I was with him every minute. I knew what was going on in his head,” he said of Todashev’s fear of being linked to the Boston Marathon bombing. “To me, it’s a setup. This is what he was afraid of. They had nothing against him. He was innocent.”