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Sunday, June 02, 2013

The strange death of Ibragim Todashev (Updated)

Many oddities surround the death of Ibragim Todashev, friend to one of the Boston bombers. As you probably already know, Todashev was shot in his Florida home by an FBI agent. Perhaps the day will come when the FBI can offer a convincing explanation for these mysteries; right now, the case looks "curiouser and curiouser" the closer one examines it.

First and foremost is the "best evidence" -- the body. If you have the stomach for it, you should study these photos of Todashev's corpse. (I've decided not to embed the gruesome images here.) Scroll down and you will see what appears to be a bullet entrance wound in the top of his head, to the side. There is no exit wound visible. (Entrance wounds are usually small; exit wounds tend to be large and messy.)

I'm hardly an expert in forensic science -- and I would certainly love to hear from someone who is an expert -- but to this layman's eyes, it seems probable that someone shot Todashev in the head at fairly close range.

Is this a classic coup-de-grace...? Not quite; the angle suggests otherwise. A coup-de-grace delivered to the head of a prone figure should leave a large exit defect on the other side of the skull. It seems more likely that the head shot occurred as Todashev fell forward, toward the shooter. But with so many bullet holes riddling his body, why would he fall toward the gun?

Maybe he was shot from two directions -- both from the front and from behind. That theory would explain the positioning of those wounds. But if two men fired, why were we told that only one agent discharged a weapon?

Although the above-linked page is in Russian, I've read the commentary via Google's translation service. The long and the short of it comes down to this: The readers of that site feel a lot of hatred toward Americans. (It's a little odd to see my fellow Americans accused of "hating Caucasians.") Nobody seems to believe that Todashev might have had any link to the three murders under investigation. Although the commenters all seem to think that the FBI committed cold-blooded murder, they cannot offer a theory as to motive. We have plenty of outrage, but no logical scenarios.

And now for a little history.

I've never visited this right-wing blog before, and judging from the list of links, I'm unlikely to show up on a regular basis. Nevertheless, I must congratulate writer Steve Sailor, who offers an interesting (though not conclusive) argument that Todashev's family did not sympathize with the Chechens during their great battle with the Russian government. The family avoided the fight altogether by moving to Russia proper, where they lived throughout the conflict. The elder Todashev now works for the pro-Russian mayor of Grozny (capital of Chechnya).

Why is this of interest? Because we've all heard that the Tsarnaevs and the late Ibragim Todashev were ardent Chechen nationalists.

A CBS report gives still another version of events:
John Miller of CBS News has a few extra details this morning that add to the Times account. According to his sources, one of the Massachusetts state troopers in the room became concerned that Todashev might try something, but rather that speak up and provoke him, he sent a text to the FBI agent. When the agent looked down to read the text, that's when Todashev attacked, again with an unknown object. The other officers in the room never pulled their guns.
With a lot of squinting and squeezing and hemming and hawing, one may be able to reconcile the earlier versions of the event with the "text message" version. But common sense tells us that these differing accounts don't work well together.

Obviously, the "text message" story is impossible to square with the account in which Todashev was alone with the FBI man who shot him. As noted above, the "lone gunman" hypothesis doesn't really fit the wounds visible on Todashev's body.

Some evidence indicates that Todashev had been under surveillance for some time.

I'd like to ask a couple of simple questions:

1. If, as claimed, Todashev was about to "sign a confession" -- who wrote the confession?

A document of that sort takes time to write. It was always my understanding that written confessions are usually written and signed in the police station. Did the agents and the cops arrive at the apartment with a confession in hand? If the authorities already knew who did what on the night of the triple homicide, why didn't they simply arrest Todashev?

2. What was Todashev's motive for participating in the Waltham triple homicide?

It is said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had a serious falling out -- over "moral" issues -- with one of the victims, a fellow mixed martial arts fighter named Brendan Mess (25). But so far, no-one has given any reason for Tsarnaev to kill the other two victims,  Eric Weissman (31, a bodybuilder) and Rapheal Teken (37, a personal trainer). And nobody has explained why Todashev would care enough about these people to murder them.

The three victims (who all happened to be Jewish) had their throats slit Jack-the-Ripper style. The slices were so forceful that the men were nearly decapitated. The murders took place in Mess' apartment on the night of September 11, 2011 -- the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The fairly wide range of ages suggests that these three worked together, as opposed to being purely social acquaintances. People who knew Mess suspected him of dealing drugs; the bodies were found covered in cash and copious amounts of marijuana.

So it seems very possible that the killings involved a dispute over drugs. But why leave so much money behind?

Update: Well, my update is more of an embarrassed confession. In a comment appended to a preceding story, a reader excerpted a story which gave the names of the FBI agents and cops in the room. I was, naturally, very interested in this news. But you had to follow the link and read through to the end to discover that article was a bizarre hoax. With much scarlet in my cheeks, I've snipped and re-written this post accordingly.
The patriot ledger article with the names is a fictional account by that writer if what the statement from the FBi SHOULD have been. We still don't know the name(s) of the agent(s) who killed Todashev.
Bullets go through people, shooting from in front and behind would therefore be a bad idea.

The only one in all this with any apparent history of Chechnyan nationalism is Uncle Ruslan, with his organisation.

As for the names, well, I'd have assumed Nemo Puitovic was a fake name, as Nemo is Latin for "nobody" (I once played a computer game, Broken Sword 2, where a CIA operative used the pseudonym Eidan, Nadie backwards, which is Spanish for "nobody"). But then you've got Lucky, Strong, Straight. I don't know of any other Rick O'Sheas, though. Maybe they were all fake names.
A great post - you're doing important work.

A few thoughts although I feel as confused by this matter as anyone -

- TalkLeft notes the se of a "control" shot in the incident, although I am not sure where the writer learned this.

I've had difficulty finding other references to a control shot online. My assumption was a coup de grace type but after seeing those grisly photos it seems unlikely.

- Steve Sailer is a compelling intellectual who asks difficult questions. he is of course dismissed as a racist and right winger, but he doesnt seem to be either. I discovered your site by a link from his. At one point he must have been visiting your site. I don't recall the topic.

- What happened? My pet theory now is that one of the agents discharged their weapon accidentally and shot this guy in the head. Other agents then fired, perhaps in a panic perhaps in an effort to cover up the crime. I assume the officers had all been briefed on the suspects martial arts background and assumed he was some sort of kill crazy fanatic super killer.

- motive for the triple killing? I bet the victims sold weed to the Tsarniev's sister or sisters. They left the cash to show their contempt for the victims and their ill got trade. (Yes, I know the Tsarnievs smoked pot with regularity. But for all practical purposes I think you could consider these Chechens as equivalent to Ozark Hillbillies in matters of moral logic and family honor.)

The comments see pretty typical of just about any blog.

This one (translated) seems rational. (ignore the fucked up syntax)

"No one is trying to justify or condemn, inserting my two cents.

In a country where so many weapons of any law enforcement is trained to shoot first and think later on the principle of "let me lose my job better than life."

A hole in the head is not like a control shot. Chances continued to shoot someone when doprashivemy was falling. In Miami, ten or fifteen years ago, a handsome city judge. It sat 41 police bullets, and he was still alive!

PS In my ten years ago, was aimed the gun barrel of a police officer. The feeling is not the most pleasant", but you can survive if you do not twitch. A police officer, by the way, was a normal guy and not give up a cup of coffee."

The cop riot/itchy trigger angle is becoming more common. The Costco lady was not armed but one of the cops was shot (friendly fire).

They're always talking about irresponsible gun owners. When cops fire into a crowded store and wound their peers out of fear, a couple of question sshould be asked. Do firefighters run away from the fire?

Should cops have guns?


That piece in the Patriot Ledger is satire. I was excited when I first read it awhile ago, too. But notice the silly names and then re-read this paragraph:

"Of course the above is fiction. That is what should have happened. How Mr. Todashev met his untimely demise has to be a relatively straight forward event. Instead of the above we have a team of FBI experts descending on Orlando from DC. Everyone accepts this a natural. Everything has to be washed and scrubbed before the people are allowed to know anything about it. The soldiers have to be lined up in a row."

Matt Connolly is a former prosecutor who is writing a blog about the Whitey Bulger trial with a focus on the corrupt culture of the FBI.

BostonBoomer (sky dancing)
Every previous report I read or saw, including this April 21 "Meet The Press" show had said that the Russians went silent after they first alerted both the FBI and the CIA about Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Here's Mike Rogers on "Meet The Press":

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI, Chairman, Intelligence Committee, Former FBI Agent): Yeah, well, it’s important to understand why, in fact, the FBI interviewed him in the first place. So they had information from a foreign intelligence service that they were concerned about his possible radicalization. And so they went from there, the FBI did their due diligence, and did a very thorough job about trying to run that to ground and then asks some more help from that intelligence service to try to get further clarification and, unfortunately, that intelligence service stopped cooperating. So what happens is that case gets closed down.

But what else came out on that same April 21st?

Keating: Russia shared Todashev info
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Comments (35) .By:Erin Smith


..Russian intelligence officials sent the U.S. government information on the Chechen pal of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev — just after the marathon attack and a month before he was shot dead while being questioned by authorities about his ties to the bombings.

U.S. Rep. William Keating, who returned yesterday from a trip to Russia, said Russian intelligence officials sent information about 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev to their counterparts in the United States before he was fatally shot May 22 in Orlando, Fla., after what the FBI called a violent confrontation.

Todashev was one of many Russian nationals named in the April 21 letter to U.S. officials, said Keating.

.Keating said the missive was not a warning letter about Todashev, but he told the Herald his name came up during intelligence information sharing.

“It was just clear that his name was referenced among others in that letter. It could have been in response to the FBI asking them what they knew,” Keating said, adding it was unclear why Russia shared the information. “We’ll be able to get these letters.”

Keating said he spent more than an hour with Russia’s counterterrorism director and a top deputy at FSB, Russia’s equivalent of the FBI, who both candidly shared information on Tsarnaev, his association with militants and his visit to Russia last year.

“I never thought we’d get that level of information and cooperation from the Russians,” Keating said.

Keating acknowledged he learned “more specific” information from the Russians than FBI officials, who have failed to show up for congressional hearings on the bombings and have not provided briefings about Todashev."
So it seems there was intel being shared after all, and if they mentioned Todashev they were linking to Tsarnaev. Did Mike Rogers lie?...
More at link,


My bad at not recognizing the satire;

Here's the link I forgot for the Keating statements in the Boston Herald:

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