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Roommate Says FBI Hounded Tsarnaev Acquaintance Todashev Before Killing Him

It will be recalled that the Boston Office of the FBI, which claims that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev caused the second explosion at the Boston marathon on April 15 of this year, killed an acquaintance of Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan named Ibragim Todashev in murky circumstances about a month later.

Well, the person who shared Todashev’s apartment and, she says, his bed, Tatiana Gruzdeva, has now spoken on the case for the first time. The trigger for this disclosure was the arrest Wednesday of a friend of theirs, Ashurmamad Miraliev, over a July, 2012 incident in which he and Todashev were involved. (He is now accused of threatening a principal of the incident.) She was present at his arrest, and afterward felt the need to contact a reporter who had sent her a Facebook “friend” request, and speak about her time with Todashev. The result appeared on Boston Magazine’s website yesterday.

According to Gruzdeva’s account, the FBI’s first encounter with Todashev, which she watched from a window, was outside their building, where they forced him to the ground and put handcuffs on him, then brought him into the apartment. He told them that his knee hurt from an injury, but it made no difference to them. They then kept questioning him on what he knew about the marathon bombing, asking the same questions repeatedly. Eventually they took him away, although he returned six hours later and said everything was OK.

They were both questioned by the FBI in the following days, eventually bringing in the 2011 Waltham triple murder as well as the marathon nombing, but eventually agents got her alone and questioned her for three hours. When they were dissatisfied with her answers they decided to take the fact that her visa had expired seriously and turned her over to immigration, which jailed her. When Todashev came looking for her, FBI agents mocked him about the fact that she was not there, according to what he told her later while visiting her in detention. (This aspect of Gruzdeva’s account is central to emptywheel’s discussion of the article.)

The rest of Gruzdeva’s story, harrowing as it is, need not detain us here as it is about her continued detention and eventual release, and how she was told of Todashev’s death. But if her tale is even only partially true it is easy to see how Todashev might have indeed finally snapped and lunged at an FBI agent in spite of his bad knee, resulting in his being shot six times in the torso, and once more for good measure in the top of his head after he was felled.

The Boston FBI folks may ultimately get away with the Todashev killing in legal terms, but that in itself will not exonerate them in the minds of people of good will.

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall