Thursday Reads: What Really Happened to Ibragim Todashev?


Good Morning!!

We’re heading into a heat wave here in the Boston area. It’s supposed to be hot and humid for the next few days with temps in the high 80s or low 90s. It will be a shock to my system, since it has been rather chilly here recently.

I’m going to focus on the ongoing Boston bombing story again, but you can treat this as a regular morning reads post/open thread. Don’t feel you have to comment on this topic. I haven’t paid much attention to other news for a few days, so I hope you’ll update me on the latest news in the comment thread!

A week ago, I wrote a post about the death of Ibragim Todashev, who was shot and killed in an apartment in Orlando, FL by an FBI agent from Boston in the early hours of Wednesday May 22. Todashev was being questioned by representatives of the FBI, the Massachusetts State Police, and “other law enforcement personnel” about his relationship with deceased Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and possible connections to an unsolved 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts. Todashev had reportedly been questioned for hours on Tuesday and was shot shortly after midnight. The FBI had been following him for about a month, calling him daily and questioning him on several different occasions.

At the time I wrote that post, there was a great deal of confusion about the circumstances of the shooting and that confusion has only increased during the past week. At first, anonymous law enforcement sources claimed Todashev had been killed after he attacked the agent with a knife. By he next day sources were walking back that claim, some saying Todashev had something in his hand but it wasn’t a knife, others suggesting it was a pipe or something similar.

I’ve been following this story closely, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Presumably, the events in question were fairly straightforward. A man was shot dead with at least four–perhaps more–law enforcement officers present. How hard would it be to figure out if the dead man had a knife in his hand or not? Something was obviously not right.

FBI gun

During the past week, the reported details of the Todashev shooting have continued to change. On May 25, the Boston Globe offered a new version of events, again based on anonymous sources.

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.

Okay, but with at least four trained law enforcement officers present, why was it necessary to kill a potentially valuable witness? Is it really credible that they couldn’t control one not very large (about 5’8″) man?

Yesterday morning there was another version. In this one, first reported by Fox Boston, Todashev not only knocked over a table, but also slammed the FBI agent’s head into a wall and attacked him with a sword. Yes, a sword. As in previous stories, the claim was that Todashev had been about to sign a confession about his involvement in the Waltham murders when things got out of control.

During the interview, investigators took notes and everything appeared to be going well. Eventually, Todashev was asked to write down, in his own handwriting and in his own words, what he had been telling authorities about his role in the murders when in the words of one source – all hell broke loose.

Todashev allegedly began writing, but then flipped a table over, knocking the Boston FBI agent into the wall hitting his head.

FOX 25’s Bob Ward was told the agent looked up to see Todashev waving in his direction what was described as a Banzai ceremonial sword.

Fearing for his life, the FBI agent drew his weapon and fatally shot Todashev. The entire incident taking only seconds.

During the course of the day, the story continued to change as more anonymous “sources” weighed in. WESH Orlando’s “sources” told a slight different tale than Fox Boston’s.

Sources said Todashev might have been lunging toward a sword, but he was not in possession of it.

Law enforcement officials said Todashev was in the process of confessing to a 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Mass., and was working on writing out the details of the crime when he snapped and turned violent.

Officials said Todashev pushed a table and possibly threw a chair.

Sources said a sword was inside the apartment, but the weapon was moved to the corner of the room before questioning began. Law enforcement said when Todashev lunged, the FBI agent believed he could have possibly been going for his gun or the sword in the room, and that’s when the agent opened fire.

Because of course the best law enforcement technique is to move any sharp objects to the corner of the room before questioning a suspect? WTF?!


Finally, last night several news outlets–among them The Washington Post–reported that Todashev had been unarmed when he was shot.

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.

And exactly why did the other officers “step out of the room?” The source doesn’t say.

This story is becoming just plain ridiculous, and as Emptywheel wrote yesterday, it makes the FBI look just plain stupid. Last night on twitter, someone compared it to the old “Get Smart” recurring bit, “Would you believe…”

But as ridiculous as this story seems, we need to understand that something like this could happen to any one of us. A man was killed in an apartment with multiple law enforcement officers present, and after more than a week, we still don’t know for sure what happened.

At 7PM yesterday, the Florida chapter of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) held a press conference with Todashev’s wife, her mother, and a close friend of Todashev’s in attendance and called for the Department of Justice to initiate a civil rights investigation of the shooting.

[T]he Tampa director of that group said not only was 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev unarmed when he was shot by the agent May 22, he was hit seven times, including once in the head….the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Florida chapter on Wednesday cited unnamed sources within the FBI as saying Todashev was not armed at the time of the shooting.

“We did confirm today with sources within the FBI that he was unarmed,” CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Hassan Shibly told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday afternoon. Later, Shibly told reporters that CAIR has an “intermediary” who said the FBI told him Todashev was unarmed. Shibly did not identify the intermediary.

At a news conference Wednesday evening, Shibly showed what he said were photos of Todashev’s body after the shooting. The photos were taken at an Orlando funeral home after the Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner’s office released the body to Todashev’s next of kin, he said.

The photographer was Khusen Taramov — a friend of Todashev’s who lives in Kissimmee — and photos show at least a dozen wounds, although some may have been exit wounds, Shibly said.

In addition, Todashev’s widow Reniya Manukyan claimed that she has evidence to show that her husband could not have committed the murders in Waltham in September 2011.

Todashev’s widow said Wednesday that she has records proving her husband was with her in Atlanta on Sept. 11, 2011, so he could not have been in Massachusetts on the day of the triple killing. Manukyan was married to Todashev for about three years, she said.

In another interaction on Twitter last night Boston Globe reporter Wesley Lowery told me he wasn’t ready to accept the latest version of events until he can independently confirm it from official sources. His reporting on the Boston bombing generally and the Todashev story specifically has been very good, and I’ll be watching to see what he finds out.

Once again, I’ve used up most of my space on a Boston bombing story, but I still have room for a few more quick links, with an emphasis on law enforcement and civil liberties.

Cory Doctorow: Kafka, meet Orwell: peek behind the scenes of the modern surveillance state. At the link you can watch a short, powerful documentary about public surveillance in the UK.

Rob Fischer at The New Yorker: Watching the Detectives–a piece about “Floyd v. Floyd v. City of New York, a landmark challenge to the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policies.”

NYT: Former Bush Official Said to Be Obama Pick to Lead F.B.I. Obama is about to nominate James Comey as FBI Director–a man who was in the Bush DOJ during the torture deliberations.

Emptywheel: When NYT Accused Jim Comey of Approving Torture

Holder Faces New Round of Criticism After Leak Inquiries

HuffPo: Eric Holder To Meet With Washington Bureau Chiefs Amid Leak Investigation Criticism (UPDATE)

Politico: N.Y. Times will not attend DOJ session, citing opposition to off-the-record provision

Buzzfeed: ACLU Defends News Organizations For Rejecting Off-The-Record Meeting With Attorney General

And another Boston link: Dirty Old Boston Facebook page shows the city as it really was

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?

44 Comments on “Thursday Reads: What Really Happened to Ibragim Todashev?”

  1. Great post, BB. Really want to see Reniya’s records and the reactions to it. This is really bizarro stuff, and using JJ’s word for this case–stinky.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Mona.

    • lol @ Lowery’s reporting being good on Todashev or the Boston Bombing. If you say so, and only if.

      I will not find anyone’s reporting “good”, until they find the wherewithal and cojones to report this:

      • bostonboomer says:

        Well, I reported it here quite awhile ago. Plenty of problems w/the mainstream media, but they do have access that we bloggers don’t. I think Lowery is OK, but you disagreement is noted.

        • Yes, I believe that I saw a while back that you did in fact report that, as I’ve noticed your incisive reporting in a few different places on the net.

          And it is true that mainstream reporters have access that many bloggers do not, unfortunately that access only continues as long as they report favorably on those accessible sources. Or so it seems.

          To be clear, I do not believe that the Fuller link means that the Boston Bombing was some sort of Glenn Beck/Alex Jones false flag CT operation, but something is very rotten here. Indeed, my guess is that Beck and Jones are purposely creating their CT to confuse and obfuscate the public. At this point, any mention of the CIA lands one in the loony bin, which is most convenient for whom? Fuller’s clout enabled Fethullah Gulen to gain his Green Card, and my guess is that Fuller’s clout enabled the Tsarnaev clan, including Ruslan, to gain their permanent residency here as well. Political Asylum? The Tsarnaev clan traveled back and forth to Dagestan and Chechnya freely with little apparent concern for their safety. Perhaps the CIA should get out of the immigration referral business and focus on warnings coming from countries with a well-developed intelligence apparatus, i.e., Russia, Saudi Arabia. Why did Ruslan feel it necessary to change his last name? Ever since the first time I viewed Ruslan’s vehement denials and castigation of his relatives, I said to myself, “This guy ain’t right. He Doth Protest Too Fucking Much.”

          It bothers me to no end that Lowery and others will report, as apparent fact, various unconfirmed details from unnamed sources which are later shown to be nonsense, when they (mainstream media) refuse to report a fact that has been confirmed by Fuller himself and verified by various records on file. To me, that is just bizarre and either journalistic malpractice or worse.

          Fuller now teaches at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver:

          Fuller’s calling any suggestion of Tsarni’s link to the CIA “absurd” is in fact “absurd”, and the idea that top CIA officers ever fully retire from intelligence activities is naive. Fuller’s knowledge and experience is way too valuable to the CIA for the CIA to ever let him retire in full. After Iran-Contra, Fuller had to morph.

          • bostonboomer says:

            The reason why Chechen immigrants have been able to get asylum is that the neocons in the Bush administration used the Chechen “rebels” to try to undermine Russia. I don’t know if Fuller specifically had anything to do with it. For the mainstream media, the fact that Uncle Ruslan was married to the daughter of a former CIA agent and even that he worked for Halliburton, etc. doesn’t say anything about the Boston situation. As bloggers we can discuss it and draw conclusions–they would have to convince their editors that it’s relevant.

            One thing I wonder about is why the rest of the family had ostracized the Tsarnaevs. Was it because the kids used drugs (one of the sisters was in court just yesterday or the day before)? Or was it something between the brothers? I don’t know. Ruslan even changed his surname.

    • BB, just two words for you on writing this post…

      Thank you.

      Now I am going to read it.

  2. Beata says:

    The Todashev shooting is one of the most peculiar stories I have ever heard. At least a dozen different versions of events and no real answers.

    BB, thanks for continuing to do excellent reporting on this. I think people are very interested. If they don’t comment on your report, I suspect it’s because they don’t know what to say. The shooting is just so strange. It boggles the mind.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Beata. It is incredibly strange. I’m sure the FBI will decide the shooting was justified, so I hope CAIR is successful in getting a real investigation going. Honestly, it’s enough to make me question the whole narrative around the bombing and the Tsarnaev brothers.

      • It DOES make me wonder,for sure, about the Tsarnev brothers and…if there’s some grain of truth to their relatives claims that they were framed.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I don’t think they were framed, but there is a lot of covering up going on because the FBI knew who they were and didn’t tell anyone else in Boston. The FBI really wants to pin the Waltham murders on them somehow. Why are they even involved in a local investigation anyway. There’s no real evidence yet that the Tsarnaevs had anything to do with it.

          My hypothesis is that these latest leaks are coming from the MA State Police. They have historical issues with the FBI going back to when the FBI protected Whitey Bulger. Eventually, the State Police had to find him on their own.

          The culture of the FBI is incredibly corrupt. Hoover was in charge for so long that I think his legacy is still very much alive.

          • Beata says:

            If the MA State Police are leaking information, then perhaps we will get some real answers eventually. That gives me hope.

          • Oh I don’t think they are being framed for the Boston bombings either. There’s just a Mark Fuhrmanesque air to this other triple homicide case they’re linking to that makes me wonder if there’s a grain of truth…that they’re being framed perhaps, for this other case. Not really what their parents meant, but…strange that everything that ensued after that point has panned out so suspect and shady.

          • Also btw, I think your hypothesis is compelling 🙂

      • Beata says:

        I question it. There are so many conflicting stories about the bombing as well and now the Todashev shooting happens. It’s too convenient.

  3. ecocatwoman says:

    BB, your comment that “we need to understand that something like this could happen to any one of us” was what I was thinking. Frankly after being followed and repeatedly questioned, who wouldn’t snap? I know how frustrated I get when people ask me questions then don’t listen to what I’ve said, or continue to ask more & more questions. I don’t feel we will ever know the truth.

    I guess I’m not as concerned about the Comey appointment. My understanding is he was the person in charge when Ashcroft was hospitalized. Comey had refused to certify the NSA’s domestic surveillance. Andy Card & Alberto Gonzalez went to the hospital & tried to strong arm Ashcroft into approving the surveillance. The way the story was reported at the time seemed to me to make Comey one of the good guys.

    Some NPR stories that caught my attention this morning – one probably good & another makes me want to scream. First a report about the S.A.F.E Center at Fort Valley State University. It is on the Florida & Georgia coast evacuation routes and can hold cats, dogs & horses in the event of hurricanes. It’s a step in the right direction: It’s a good report but I was saddened once again when they played Senator Tom Lantos’ about the little white dog left behind when his family boarded a bus for evacuation following Katrina. It was heartbreaking to leave the little dog alone on the highway. To my knowledge the dog was never found & reunited with his family.

    The other is a big one, for me at least. GMO wheat has been found in Oregon & everyone is baffled as to how it got there. The GMO had been an experiment, but Monsanto decided against marketing it. This has been my main concern about GMO that no one ever seems to talk about. How do you prevent the seeds from spreading to other fields or growing wild? Seeds are spread by winds, birds, insects and other animals who eat them then deposit them elsewhere in their feces. Just how STUPID are these people working on GMO food?

    One more for paleontology fans, a bird older than Archaeopteryx has been found:

    Hope the heat doesn’t become unbearable for you bb. I couldn’t live without AC!!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Comey is probably OK, but he won’t be able to change the culture at the FBI. It’s too ingrained. I just wonder if Obama knows any Democrats he can appoint to anything?

      • Fannie says:

        Quite interesting how the story changes…………he had gun, he had knife, no he had a sword, no it was a sawed off toothbrush. The more that comes out in the news, the more the story just crumbles away. I hope his family keeps giving us information, and am grateful that you are attempting to get the message out…………….wth is going on? You have high standards, and I’ll gladly listen to you anyday of the week.

        Lastly, I bet you the republicans will not fight against Comey being appointed, and maybe that is why Obama appointed him. I am sure in doing so, it will somehow backfire on Obama. We have enough of schizophrenics from Bush’s administration who have been mucking up any improvements for Americans.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        I’ve wondered the same thing myself. He seems to like to appoint Republicans.

      • NW Luna says:

        Evidently Obama just can’t find any qualified Democrats. Someone needs to him some binders full of Democrats.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Russia Today published a photo of the gunshot wound at the top of Todashev’s head. Todashev’s father held a press conference in Moscow to show them. The father is a prominent person in Chechnya.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Connor Friersdorf at The Atlantic: Why Did the FBI Kill an Unarmed Man and Clam Up?

  6. bostonboomer says:

    BTW, I haven’t mentioned this before, but Todashev’s father is prominent in the government in Chechnya. He works directly with Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic.

    • Beata says:

      Wow. Just wow. Did the FBI know who they were dealing with? Did they think the story would just slide under the radar and disappear?

    • Beata says:

      That link is in Cyrillic.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Sorry, I use Chrome and it automatically translates. Here’s the text–not a great translation.

        R. Kadyrov: “Todashev told his father that he wants to go home, because in America began to harass the Chechens”


        Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov has commented on his attitude to the events taking place in America.

        At a meeting with editors of leading Russian media, Kadyrov said that Tsarnaevy brothers accused of the terrorist attack in Boston, were capable of such crimes.

        “I checked on the channels information about the brothers. Those who knew them closely, confirm that they have committed illegal activities in any country. But I want to emphasize that the brothers Tsarnaevy have no relation to the Chechen Republic, they are citizens of America. As for Ibrahim Todasheva, it was a good guy. His father – the only decent and educated people working with us in public office. In the last phone conversation with his father Ibrahim Todashev told him that he wanted to go home, that in America the harassment of Chechens. But he did not return home, he was killed, “- said Kadyrov.

        “I do not quite understand the policy of the White House. When murders are happening in America, the Americans are beginning to make noise on the whole world, and they are committed terrorist acts in Russia and killed any innocent people, these same Americans showed no interest in what happens. America is involved in many conflicts in the Middle East. Depending on their interests differently applies to terrorism. This policy of double standards is puzzling, “- said Kadyrov.

        Source: Press Office of the Chechen Republic…

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Russia Today interview U.S. civil rights attorney

  8. I have felt that this Orlando event was a bad cover up gone wrong of a larger “botched better cover our asses” cover up of the Boston Booming. It all stinks.

    Hearing that Todashev was the son of a high vip Chechen official, makes me think it was a bigger fuck up than I previously thought. I don’t know. Something is not right.

    I saw something about one of the officers being shot with friendly fire during the shootout with police while looking for the brothers up in Boston? That may be old news, but I could have sworn I saw it yesterday?

  9. Just put this here: Beatriz, Dying Pregnant Woman In El Salvador, Denied Life-Saving Abortion By Supreme Court

    After El Salvador’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Beatriz, a 22-year old pregnant woman seriously ill with lupus and kidney disease, cannot have the abortion needed to save her life, American progressive groups are launching last-ditch efforts to intervene.

    Beatriz, who uses a pseudonym to protect her identity, is 24 weeks pregnant and the mother of a 1-year old son. Doctors determined in her first trimester that neither she nor her fetus were likely to survive the pregnancy. Her medical conditions make it very dangerous for her to be pregnant, and her fetus has anencephaly, a severe birth defect that prevents its brain from fully forming.

  10. Storms again in OK…Keep an eye out. Severe Weather Warnings Page

  11. Yes, you can view that Ruslan graduated Duke Law in 1998 as Ruslan Tsarnaev, not Ruslan Tsarni here:

    Ruslan’s hometown at the time is listed as Cambridge, MA.

    I missed that Tamerlan’s sister was arrested for intent to distribute marijuana. Thanks for the heads up. One word: Obshina. Why did Mess’ girlfriend travel to Florida and back just before before the killings, why did Todashev live in Florida, why did Todashev live in an Orlando condo owned by a Chechen now running a Medical Clinic in Houston? Two words: Obshina and Oxycontin. Florida is Mecca for those seeking easy refills for Oxycontin and other prescription drugs which are in very high demand in Boston and other places, especially in Boston though, which has among the highest Oxycontin and heroin abuse in the country.

    Yeah, I understand that the US has, and has had for a long time, interests in Chechnya, the North Caucasus, and Central Asia; mainly oil interests.

    • My bad, I misread your comment. You were simply asking why Ruslan changed his name, not whether or not he did.

      Ruslan probably changed his name for the same reason that Fuller “retired” from the CIA. Ruslan even lived in upstate Washington, right across the border from Simon Fraser, where Fuller is now a prof.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      The strip mall pain clinics, prescription pain killer regs have been strengthened in Florida in the past year. Drops in prescriptions have already been documented, so the regs seem to have made a difference. If Todashev was distributing, his access to supplies probably had diminished greatly.

  12. btw, the more I look at your blog the more I like it: economics, gardening, liberal politics, no Daily Kos, concern for Boston Bombing ramifications and causes, author interaction, possibly a Massachusetts bent, and all around goodwill, makes me want to return, and I will. Cheers!