The death of Ibragim Todashev has been shrouded in mystery since he was mortally wounded during an interview with FBI agents on May 22. Before Wednesday’s admission that the 27-year-old was unarmed at the time of his death, investigators offered conflicting accounts of what happened in Todashev’s final minutes.
Todashev associated with Tamerlan Tsarnaev from mixed martial arts and boxing circles in the Boston area before he moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Orlando, Florida. FBI officials maintained he was never a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Investigators did say, however, that the matter would be the subject of a probe that is expected to last 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.”
One federal agent, according to the Washington Post, claimed Todashev was shot after trying to grab an agent’s sidearm. A second agent claimed Todashev brandished a knife. A Bureau statement issued on the day of the incident said only that an "individual” being interviewed was killed when a "violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.”
Law enforcement officials speaking anonymously said Todashev did implicate himself and Tsarnaev in connection with a triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts on September 11, 2011. On September 12 police found three dead men in a well-kept rental home. Their throats had reportedly been slashed and bodies covered in marijuana.
The spokeswoman for Middlesex County’s district attorney’s office only told the Post that the investigation was ongoing, refusing to speculate as to whether Todashev or Tsarnaev were suspects. Sources close to the investigation said Todashev was friends with one of the victims.
Todashev was pursuing career in sport, not politics - wife
Ibrahim Todashev’s acquaintance with the Boston bomb suspect Tamerlan Tsarnayev, who died in a shootout with police two days after the marathon bombings, was limited to their membership of the ethnic Chechen community and their membership of the same fitness club in Boston. Todashev was never hard strapped for cash and had no interest in politics. He was entirely focused on pursuing a career in sport. His widow Rene Manukyan spoke about this in an exclusive interview with The Voice of Russia Friday.
How and when did you get the news of your husband’s death?
It was Tuesday, 7.30 p.m. I was in Atlanta, and my husband, in Orlando, Florida. At this very moment, FBI agents knocked on my door, on the door of my husband and on the door of my mother in Savannah, Georgia, a 4-hour’s drive from Atlanta. They said they needed simultaneous interviews.
I called my husband, and then sent an SMS message to him. He didn’t pick the phone. I thought he was busy answering questions. Tired after work, I went to bed immediately after my interview. All of their questions were about Tamerlan Tsarnayev. I woke up at 5.a.m. My husband was still out of touch. I drove to work. At 7 p.m., I got an SMS inquiry from a friend: "How are you? How is life?” I answered that everything was fine and asked him what he wanted. He broke the news that my husband had been killed. In a couple of minutes, an FBI agent called, ordering me to stay put. He said he would come soon.
They arrived and said they could not be the first to inform me about my husband’s death. My reaction was…. well, you can easily guess. I couldn’t believe them. What they said was impossible. It was surreal.
Was your husband an acquaintance of Tsarnayev? Were they friends?
They were never friends. They did meet as members of the same ethnic community. This is normal, because everyone knows everyone else in our small ethnic circle. At the same time, they were never close to one another. Each member of the Boston fitness club where they trained can confirm this. The communication between them was limited to casual greetings. In 2010, shortly after getting married, Todashev left Boston.
Did your husband tell you anything about the triple murder in which he was a suspect?
He never did. I knew nothing about this. In 2011, I even missed television reports about this murder. We were both questioned many times, but none of the queries touched on the triple Boston murder. The questioning revolved around Ibrahim’s acquaintance with Tsarnayev.
What kind of a person was Ibrahim? What was he up to? What can you say about his relations with the authorities?
We shunned politics and never talked about it. He was focused on pursuing a career in Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA. I was the breadwinner. The current TV speculation that he lived on welfare is false. We were never hard strapped for cash. Everything was OK. The Russian television reports, shown to me by sisters, that he lived in a posh house, are not true either. We rented this house and never owned it. I have no idea who is spreading lies about our life.
True, he was Muslim in everything that concerns rites and everyday life. At the same time, he was never crazy about Islam. He was not a radical.
So you were the breadwinner. And what did he do?
He was focused on mixed martial arts. This supposes hard training, day in, day out. He mostly did his training at his sports hall. He had no time to do any other work. I took this in my stride.
Manukian added that she could not save her husband and now Jokhar alone is alive. It is important to do everything possible to save him before it is too late.