Breaking: FBI shoots, kills person of interest in Boston bombing after man attacks agent; Update: Linked to triple homicide?

posted at 7:49 am on May 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Hmmmm:

One of two men allegedly being questioned in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings was shot and killed by an FBI agent in Florida on Tuesday, sources told WESH-TV.

According to NBC News, a special agent was interviewing the suspect regarding his connections to bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and other extremists. The suspect, who was not immediately identified by officials, was originally cooperative, died when he was shot after attacking the agent, NBC News confirmed. …

“(The FBI) took me and my friend, the suspect that got killed. They were talking to us, both of us, right? And they said they need him for a little more, for a couple more hours, and I left, and they told me they’re going to bring him back. They never brought him back,” Taramiv said.

“He felt inside he was going to get shot,” Taramiv said about Todashev. “I told him, ‘Everything is going to be fine, don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘I have a really bad feeling.’”

According to the dead man’s friends, the FBI had been taking an interest in all of them.  Why?  As the video above notes, Todashev had Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s phone number on his cell phone, and the friend admits that he and Tsarnaev spoke about a month before the Boston Marathon bombing.  According to sources talking with WCVB in Boston (which has another video report), contact was made later than that:

The man claims he and Todashev were interviewed by the FBI for nearly three hours on Tuesday. The friend said he left the interview, and when he came back to the apartment he found that there had been a shooting. Todashev was killed, WESH reported.

The FBI confirmed that a person was shot and killed, but would not disclose details about the investigation. …

Sources said Todashev spoke with Tsarnaev one week before the April 15 attack.

The FBI has had quite a bit of time to run down the various leads from phone records relating to the Tsarnaevs, as well as the initial interrogations with Dzhokhar before he got Mirandized.  If this was a hot lead, the timing seems a little odd.  On the other hand, if this was just a routine tying-up-loose-ends effort, why did Todashev get combative (if that’s what happened)?  Why did he tell his friends that he had “a bad feeling” and start making arrangements for his friends to contact his family once he realized that the FBI had taken an interest in him?

It’s a strange development in an already strange case.

Update: The Boss Emeritus notes that Todashev had planned to return to Chechnya, but that the FBI “strongly advised” him not to do that.

Khusen Taramov says the day that federal agents identified the Tsarnaev brothers as the Boston bombing suspects, FBI agents came to the apartment complex and started questioning a few people of Chechnyan descent. “One day they started questioning us, next day after the bombing, not the bombing , after they found out the bombers were Chechnyans, and they started following us, watching us, they pretty much told the guy from his apartment and they start following us, watching us like everyday,” said Taramov.

Taramov says Todashev met Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Boston and the two had hung out a few times. Taramov says Todashev met with FBI agents last night and it was supposed to be their last meeting because he was planning to fly back to Chechnya last night. He says the plane ticket was purchased before the Boston bombings but federal agents strongly advised him not to go home.

“He cancelled the tickets because, the FBI had been like, I don’t know, they’ve been pushing him, you know what I’m saying. They’ve been pushing him they say don’t leave; don’t leave so he decided to stay. But we had a feeling, worst case scenario something like that was going to happen. You know what I mean,” said Taramov.

Something must have piqued the FBI’s interest, and not just the fact that Todashev was Chechnyan — and something must have provoked Todashev to get violent, when cooperation would probably have put him back on a plane to Chechnya in short order.  Michelle also notes, as did the original story, that Todashev also fought in the MMA ranks, as did Tsarnaev.

Update: According to CNN, this wasn’t just a tying-up-loose-ends exercise:

A man fatally shot overnight by the FBI in Orlando, Florida, was being investigated for a possible connection to the Boston bombings, a U.S. law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the Boston Marathon case told CNN.

The man who was shot, Ibragim Todashev, knew both of the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, the official said.

The FBI shot in self defense in an incident at Todashev’s house, the official said.

Agents were led to Todashev, who had once lived in Boston, “through investigative leads,” the official said.

That lone-wolf theory is starting to look a little shaky.

Update: NPR has this tidbit:

A source with knowledge of what happened tells our colleagues that the FBI agent was conducting an interview related to the bombings investigation when the individual being questioning became violent. Other law enforcement personnel were there as well. During the confrontation, the source tells the NPR correspondents, “the individual was killed.”

Update: NBC reports that Todashev had become a person of interest in the 2011 triple homicide in Boston that investigators now believe may have involved Tsarnaev (via R. S. McCain):

The man who was shot, Ibragim Todashev, 27, was not suspected of having played any role in the bombing that killed three people and injured scores more in April, they said.

Instead, law enforcement officials said Todashev was being questioned as part of the FBI’s effort to find and talk to anyone who had any contact with Tsarnaev, the older bombing suspect.

Todashev, they say, had spent some time in the Boston area, where he was a cage fighter, and knew Tsarnaev there.  Investigators were also looking at whether Todashev might have had any role in a triple murder in 2011, in which three men were murdered in an apartment in Waltham, Mass.

Their throats had been cut, and their bodies were covered with marijuana.  No suspects have been arrested in that case.

Officials say FBI agents were questioning Todashev on Tuesday.  He was cooperative at first, they say, but late Tuesday night, he attacked the agent, who shot and killed him.

However …

The officials say Todashev had some connections with radical Chechen rebels, but they say it’s not clear whether he had any role in radicalizing Tsarnaev.

Hmmmmm.

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