Another Update to the Ever-Expanding Boston Bombing Story

Ibragim Todashev and Reni Manukyan

Ibragim Todashev and Reni Manukyan

I thought I should put up another update, because there has been a lot more walking back of the reports that came out yesterday, not only about whether Ibragim Todashev was holding a knife when he supposedly “lunged” at an FBI agent, but also whether Todashev had even been questioned about involvement in the 2011 triple murder in Waltham MA with which Massachusetts officials have been trying to connect Tamerlan and Dzhokhor Tsarnaev.

This morning The Wall Street Journal reported that Reni Manukyan who is married to Ibragim Todashev–the man who was shot while being interrogated by several law enforcement officers in Orlando, Fl early yesterday–claim neither she nor her husband were ever asked about the murders.

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….

“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.”

She says that agent question her several times as they did her husband, and that he couldn’t have been involved in the murders since he doesn’t drink or use drugs of any kind. She doesn’t even think he was in Boston in September of 2011.

Khusen Taramov

Khusen Taramov

The Boston Globe also has a story that walks back a number of yesterday’s reported leaks from investigators. According to the Globe, Todashev’s close friend and former roommate Khusen Taramov also claims Todarov was never questioned about the Waltham murders. He

said the two had been interviewed many times by FBI agents, and had been followed for weeks by an unmarked law enforcement vehicle since the Marathon bombings.

Taramov, a fellow Chechen and immigrant from Russia, said his slain friend had been called almost daily by agents since the bombings, but Todashev had been assured that the Tuesday night interview would be the final one.

“They told us they needed just one more interview,” he said. “They said the case was closed after this.”

Fearful it would make them look suspicious, neither he nor Todashev had a lawyer present during the FBI questioning, Taramov said.

Taramov, who said he had spent nearly every moment with Todashev since the bombing, insisted that his friend had never been asked about the triple slaying in Waltham.

“We told each other everything, everything,” Taramov said. “He never said anything about any murder and they never asked him anything about that. Just about the bombings and [Tamerlan] Tsarnaev.”

Manukyan and Taramov both say that Todashev did not have radical beliefs. He was just a normal Muslim. So what the heck is going on here?

At the Atlantic, Alexander Abad-Santos does a very good job of tracing down yesterday’s reports on whether Todashev had a knife before he was shot and whether he was questioned about and/or admitted to the Waltham murders and where these reports originated. Abad Santos writes:

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,” Khusen Taramiv said. “I told him, ‘Everything is going to be fine, don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘I have a really bad feeling.'”

article-todashev-0522

Jerelyn at Talk Left also breaks down the various reports and speculates about what might have happened. She also calls attention to another bit of information–that Todashev had a girlfriend named Tatiana Gruzdeva (this may be her Facebook page), and she was arrested by ICE on May 16 and is currently in custody for immigration violations.

Anyone with a shred of empathy could certainly understand why someone who has been shadowed by the FBI for the past month, interrogated repeatedly for hours, and then accused of murder–plus his girlfriend has been turned over to immigration authorities (a common FBI tactic to get information)–might get angry and perhaps make a sudden move. But did he really have to die when there were at least four law enforcement officers in the room with him at the time?

Jerelyn:

FBI interviews aren’t usually recorded. I doubt we’ll ever know what transpired during the interview. We’ll only get self-serving statements by law enforcement that justify their actions.

That some of these law enforcement officials use the words “implicated himself” as opposed to “confessed” in relation to the killings doesn’t mean Todashev acknowledged a role in the killings. If he was in Boston, it could mean something as little as Tamerlan called him that night and asked him to pick him up and give him a ride, or that Tamerlan later gave him some items that would link Tamerlan to the killings. Since Tamerlan is dead, he can’t defend himself against the murder charges law enforcement seems determined to attach to him. (Neither can Todashev.) Even if they find Tamerlan’s DNA at the home of the murdered men, it doesn’t mean he was involved in the murder. Since Tamerlan and one of the victims were good friends, if the DNA is just found somewhere in the home or on clothes or a drinking cup, it could have been deposited prior to the day of the killings.

I am not buying the unconfirmed report that he suddenly went beserk when asked to sign a written confession. Or that he confessed to the murders. He may have said something that the agents believed to be incriminating, but that doesn’t mean Todashev intended it that way or agreed with their interpretation.

I don’t doubt that he “got volatile” at the end — FBI agents don’t execute people for no reason. (Whether the shooting was an overreaction is another question.) But as to what set him off, it could be that after whatever he said that the agent thought was incriminating, the agent told him he was being arrested for the murders, and he reacted angrily because he believed he was being unjustly accused.

There’s more. You can read it at the link.

At this point, all we know for sure is that a witness with valuable information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead. We don’t know who killed him or even whether more than one of the officers present shot him. A team of FBI agents will determine if the shooting was justified, but most likely they’ll find a way to absolve their fellow officers.

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38 Comments on “Another Update to the Ever-Expanding Boston Bombing Story”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    It makes me so angry that we probably will never find out what really happened, just as we’ll never really know what happened in Boston, Cambridge (shooting of MIT cop), and Watertown. What a mess!

    • Exactly. Why is every step of this story so murky. I don’t want tinfoil answers either that I have to speculate. Just the truth. Too much to ask for, I guess.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It seems to happen with every important event like this–9/11, JFK, RFK, MLK assassinations, etc.

        • Very true, and dystopic. Reminds me of that op-Ed Chris Hedges wrote ushering in the new year a couple years ago for some reason.

          • Found it…

            http://archive.truthout.org/2011-a-brave-new-dystopia66307

            “2011: A Brave New Dystopia… The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s ’1984′ and Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World.’ The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.”

          • More:

            “Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.”

        • NW Luna says:

          Consumer/slaves and surveillance culture. Accurate. Good link, Mona.

    • Yes, it seems like a badly botched “let’s cover our asses” by making the killing of a person being “questioned” look like it was “unavoidable.”

      It looks like a bunch of over eager or trigger happy or highly stressed or under-trained cops/fbi/cia or perhaps all of the above lately. Not just with this case BB, but like the matter with the Hofstra student and that ex-cop in LA…Damn.

    • Fannie says:

      Me too…………we’ll never know.

  2. Holy shit, I told you this thing stinks. It stinks something fierce!

    I just got back from Alpharetta, I need to re-read this and I need to read your other post from this morning BB, but damn…WTF?

  3. Thanks BB!

    I’m really confused now. But that Atlantic piece is helpful in explaining the confusion:
    ” 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?”

    All really good questions….doubt we’ll get the truth

    OT:

    Boy Scouts of America remove ban on openly gay scouts; will continue to bar gay adult scout leaders – @NBCNews, @AP

    What about family values and role models?

  4. Just a quick reminder, tonight is the Harold Lloyd night on TCM, watching Safety First now, it is great.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Check this out from Kevin Drum. Conspiracy Theory Watch: Hillary Sold Stingers to Al Qaeda!

    Seriously. This is the latest fever dream from the right. They believe that the reason Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11 was to negotiate the return of Stinger missiles that Hillary Clinton had sold to Al Qaeda groups over the objections of the CIA.

    I am not making this up.

    Why couldn’t the wingers be happy with their old complaint: that Obama had done too little after the Libya war to secure Muammar Qadafi’s arsenal of shoulder-mounted antiaircraft missiles,1 thus allowing them to fall into the hands of assorted bad guys in the Middle East? That’s at least based on a kernel of truth. Beats me. Because it didn’t involve Hillary Clinton, I guess, and therefore wasn’t a perfect conspiracy theory.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    OMG unbelievable!!

    The FBI Investigated the Song ‘Louie Louie’ for Two Years

    The song was once banned in Boston! LOL

  7. RalphB says:

    TPM: McCain, Levin Urge IRS To Suspend Lois Lerner

    Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI), the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, respectively, urged the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday to “suspend immediately” Lois Lerner, the agent in charge of the exempt division that inappropriately targeted conservative groups in the run up to the 2012 election.

    Buried in their letter is the nugget that the Senate has been investigating the IRS handling of 501(c)(4) organizations for over a year. WTF do they know and when did they know it? :-)

    • RalphB says:

      Since March of last year, the Subcommittee has been examining whether the IRS adequately and appropriately enforces tax code provisions and implementing regulations regarding the extent to which tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups may engage in political campaign activity.

    • Fannie says:

      That just pisses me off………….what gives them the right to be able to fire her? That’s what they wanted, but because she is fed employee they can’t just do it, and she refuses to resign.

      Nobody seems to want to bring up that little nuggett…….I’m with you Ralph.

    • NW Luna says:

      WTF?! I’ve driven over that bridge hundreds of times. We’re just lucky it didn’t happen during flood season — lives would have been lost.

      The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.

      Infrastructure spending would create jobs, most with liveable wages. Much better for the country than war spending. Congress should get dumped off a collapsed bridge over and over again until they get it they work for the people. Would have to stop big-money $$$ first though.

  8. DM says:

    “I don’t doubt that he “got volatile” at the end — FBI agents don’t execute people for no reason.”

    Really?? They doubtless did execute him for a reason, but I strongly doubt the reason was that he got “volatile”. There’s no reason to assume this, especially if his friend’s account of him expressing fear of dying is accurate. If he feared for his life, he would know that it would be suicidal to give them any sort of excuse to shoot him. It seems more likely that they wanted to shut him up.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Well, I definitely disagree with Jerelyn on whether FBI agents kill people for no reason. I’m not sure why they would want him to shut up. I think it’s more likely someone just got nervous and did something really stupid. That wouldn’t be new for the FBI.

  9. jawbone says:

    I read yesterday that two of the FBI agents investigating the Boston bombings died during a training exercise — using a rope to drop from a helicopter onto a boat or ship.

    They’re dropping like flies, those touched by this terror event.