Wednesday, May 22, 2013

 

Deadly End to F.B.I. Queries on Tsarnaev and a Triple Killing

A man in Orlando, Fla., who was being interviewed early Wednesday by law enforcement officers about his ties to the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect was fatally shot after he tried to attack the officers, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The man admitted that he and the Boston suspect had been involved in a triple murder, the authorities said.


The officers — who included an F.B.I. agent from the Boston field office and two Massachusetts state troopers — were questioning the man, Ibragim Todashev, about whether he had played a role in the murder of three men on Sept. 11, 2011, in Waltham, Mass., where the victims were found with their throats slit and sprinkled with marijuana.

The officers had been interviewing Mr. Todashev in his apartment for some time when he tried to attack them, the official said. Investigators said they initially believed Mr. Todashev had used a knife in the attack, but in the afternoon, they said that it was unclear what he was holding when he violently attacked an agent.

The shooting occurred in a sprawling condominium complex in Orlando less than a mile from an entrance to Universal Studios, where many of the residents work.

On Wednesday, several streets in the complex were blocked off by federal and local law enforcement officials.

“The investigators were working on the theory that he and Tamerlan” had played a role in the murders, the official said, referring to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the marathon bombing suspect who died after a confrontation with police in the aftermath of the attack. One of the Waltham victims was a friend of Mr. Tsarnaev.

According to a senior law enforcement official, Mr. Todashev implicated himself and Mr. Tsarnaev in the Waltham murders.

“He had only said it orally but had not signed anything,” the official said. “But that was where it appeared to be heading,” the official said, referring to Mr. Todashev’s signing a written statement about the murders.

It was not clear whether Mr. Todashev had said why they had committed the murders. Investigators, who are seeking to determine how Mr. Tsarnaev made money, have been looking into whether Mr. Todashev and Mr. Tsarnaev were drug dealers, the official said.

The official added: “They had been interviewing him for a couple of hours at the time that he attacked them. It was not a sudden occurrence that had happened upon them entering the apartment.”

The F.B.I. agent sustained minor injuries requiring stitches, the official said.

The official said that the authorities had spoken to Mr. Todashev at least twice since the April 15 bombings, which killed three people and injured about 200.

The authorities investigating the Waltham murders are seeking to determine whether the police missed an opportunity to thwart the marathon attacks.

They have not ruled out that Mr. Tsarnaev’s younger brother, Dzhokhar, played a role in the murders.

The mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said in a telephone interview that her older son knew Mr. Todashev.

The mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Mr. Todashev saw each other regularly in Boston, though they were not particularly close, and that Mr. Todashev had moved to Florida about two years ago.

“Tamerlan said he was a good guy, he said he was a boxer or some other kind of athlete,” she said from Dagestan.

She said she had broken down when she heard the news on Wednesday.
“Now another boy has left this life,” she said.
“Why are they killing these children without any trial or investigation?”


Since the attacks, the F.B.I. and state and local law enforcement officials in Boston have sought to interview friends and others who knew the Tsarnaev brothers.

Investigators want to know how the brothers were radicalized, and they want to determine if there were accomplices.

The F.B.I. has also focused on Chechens who may have ties to extremists in Russia. Before the attacks, the bureau had not thought that they were a significant threat in the United States.


As part of those efforts, the F.B.I. has questioned many members of the small community of ethnic Chechens in the United States. Since April 29, agents have repeatedly interviewed a Chechen refugee and former rebel fighter, Musa Khadzhimuratov, of Manchester, N.H. Tamerlan Tsarnaev used a firing range in Manchester to practice shooting and bought fireworks in New Hampshire to extract the explosive powder used in the marathon bombs.

Mr. Khadzhimuratov, 36, and his wife, Madina, 32, say they had only brief social visits with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, including one a few weeks before the bombing. They said they did not know about his purchase of fireworks or guns and had no hint that he was plotting the Boston attack.

Some advocates for the Chechen community have expressed concern that Russian intelligence officers might be steering the F.B.I. to target Chechens in the United States who are hostile to Russia but have nothing to do with terrorism.

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