Did the FBI Snuff a Boston Marathon Bombing Witness? Dark Questions About a Deadly FBI Interrogation in Orlando
By Dave Lindorff
(This article was written as an exclusive for Counterpunch magazine, where the full story can be read, along with photos of the crime scene)
Ibragim Todashev, 27, a Russian immigrant friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot and killed last May 22 in the middle of the night by the FBI at the violent end of a five-hour interrogation in his home in Orlando. Now the FBI, ten months later, is claiming that its agent was attacked by Todashev, and was justified in killing him. But a Counterpunch investigation raises grave questions about what happened in that apartment.
While it’s of course conceivable that this was just a hugely botched investigation by two inept FBI agents, our investigation suggests that Todashev may have been killed trying to flee a brutal interrogation, and that he may have even been deliberately executed by the FBI.
Questions raised in this case range from why FBI agents failed to follow Bureau’s long-established interrogation protocol, leaving just one agent to question the witness, to why a suspect known to be a competitive mixed martial arts expert was left unrestrained during a hostile and high-pressure interrogation, how Todashev was shot, including a bullet to the top of the head, and finally to how he could have been shot seven times, clearly with intent to kill given where he was hit, if he was considered by the Bureau to be a key witness in the Boston Marathon case.
The FBI and other law enforcement sources, as I reported earlier in the online publication WhoWhatWhy.com, have leaked a series of widely at odds explanations to selected mainstream news media organizations as to how and why Todashev was shot and killed. Initially Bureau sources leaked to reporters that he had variously grabbed a sword off the wall, or left the room and returned from the kitchen with a pipe or a broomstick, or alternatively with a knife.
All of those leaked stories foundered on common sense. The “sword” in question turns out to have been a decorative scmitar with no sharp edge, hung on the wall and with a broken handle. There was no explanation for how the agent, who may have been accompanied in the room by a Massachusetts State Trooper, could have allowed Todashev to leave his seat and go that sword, or alternatively to the kitchen area of the room to pick up any of the other alleged implements of destruction. Ultimately, the Bureau conceded that Todashev had actually been unarmed the whole time.
But the FBI has later claimed, in leaks to selected reporters, that Todashev, left unrestrained that night (in marked contrast to other occasions when he had been cuffed) had lunged across the interview table at the interrogating agent, causing the agent to fear for his life and to shoot him in self defense, by one leaked account firing first four times, dropping his alleged assailant, and than three more times when, surprisingly, he attempted to stand again.
A 10-month “investigation”
For ten months, the FBI, claiming it was “investigating” this shooting by its agent, took the unusual step of blocking a Florida coroner’s report on the shooting death -- one that was completed within days last May by the Orange County/Orlando Medical Examiner’s Office. The FBI also sought, unsuccessfully, to prevent Todashev’s family from recovering and burying the body, insisting there would have to be permission obtained from his parents in Dagestan, as well a presentation of hard-to-obtain documents like his Soviet-era birth certificate. The Bureau in that instance was overruled by the Medical Examiner who, on humanitarian grounds, handed over Todashev’s bullet-riddled body to his widow and mother-in-law, which is why we have photos of his injuries available, which were taken by a family friend.
But an exclusive interview last week by this journalist of Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Gary Utz, who personally conducted the Todashev autopsy, confirms that Todashev was shot seven times by FBI bullets, four times in the torso, two times in the left arm (he was right-handed), and once in the top of the head, slightly towards the back of the head. A significant bruise and contusion over the cheekbone showed he also had been “forcefully struck” on the left side of the head, in Utz’s words -- a point that had never been mentioned by the FBI...
For the rest of this article, please go to http://thiscantbehappening.net/node/2196