Ibragim Todashev, friend of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, implicated himself and Tamerlan in a 2011 triple slaying just before he was killed by an FBI agent early Wednesday, NBC and CBS News are reporting.
Authorities were pressuring Chechan immigrant Ibragim Todashev, 27, to make a full confession to the murders when he suddenly turned violent, according to CBS. An FBI agent responded by firing his weapon and killing Ibragim Todashev.
The incident happened at Ibragim Todashev’s Orlando apartment, not far from Universal Studios. Initially, authorities claimed that Ibragim Todashev had lunged at the agent with a knife, but they later backtracked, saying it was no longer clear whether he was armed.
Law enforcement sources tell NBC that Ibragim Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev carried out the 2011 killings when a drug deal that turned violent. The suspects didn’t want the three victims to be able to identify them, so they slit their throats, according to the network.
Authorities had gone to Ibragim Todashev’s home late Tuesday with evidence suggesting that Todashev, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and Tsarnaev’s younger brother, Dzhokhar, were involved in the 2011 killings.
No suspects had been arrested in that case, in which three men were found in an apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts on the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks with their throats cut and marijuana covering their bodies.
Massachusetts investigators had reported earlier this month that they were uncovering “mounting evidence” that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, were involved in the slaying. One of the victims, Brendan Mess, was a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s.
Authorities said they have no reason to believe that Ibragim Todashev had any involvement in the marathon bombings.
Friends and family members of the 2011 murder victims reacted to news of the alleged confession on social media.
On a Facebook page dedicated to victim Raphael Teken, someone wrote: “Whether we ever know exactly what happened, there is one thing we surely know and that is that Rafi deserved a much better fate.”
“He was funny, kind, joyful and generous,” the message continued.
“All of us that knew him knew [his death] couldn’t have been about anything he did, but are now horrified by what it may have been about.”
Facebook user Tony Porter wrote: “I’m disappointed that we will never really get to experience true justice for our friend or know the reasons for what happened despite the fact that both alleged suspects are now deceased.
“I don’t know how you are supposed to feel when your friend’s killer gets killed, but I don’t feel <<relieved>> like I thought I would.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, confirmed to the New York Times on Wednesday that her older son knew Ibragim Todashev.
In a telephone interview from Dagestan, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said Ibragim Todashev moved from Boston to Florida about two years ago. She said she is devastated to learn that he has been killed.
“Now another boy has left this life,” she told the newspaper.
“Why are they killing these children without any trial or investigation?”
The FBI has been investigating Ibragim Todashev for the last month, questioning him several times regarding his ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police in a shootout following the deadly April 15 marathon bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, has been charged in connection with the bombings and is being held at a prison medical center outside Boston.
Khusen Taramov, a friend of Ibragim Todashev’s, confirmed that Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev knew each other. He said they had been in contact via phone or Skype about a week before the bombings.
In an interview with Orlando television station WESH, Khusen Taramov said that the two met while Ibragim Todashev was living in Boston because they were both involved in mixed martial arts and boxing.
Ibragim Todashev “wasn’t like real close friends [with Tamerlan Tsarnaev], but he just happened to know him”, Khusen Taramov said.
“But he had no idea that they were up to something like that, like bombings and everything, you know what I mean?”
Khusen Taramov says the FBI has been following him and Ibragim Todashev since the bombings. He said that they were both being interviewed by agents late Tuesday before Ibragim Todashev was killed.
Ibragim Todashev was arrested in an unrelated incident on May 4 for aggravated battery after he left a man unconscious in the parking lot of a shopping mall.
According to the arrest affidavit, Ibragim Todashev had gotten into an altercation with a man and his son over parking space.
Ibragim Todashev told police that the man “got into his face” so he pushed him and then the man’s son “got involved” and Todashev began fighting him.
“Todashev said he was only fighting to protect his knee because he had surgery in March,” the affidavit states.
A mall security officer arrived on scene to find the son unconscious and lying in a pool of blood on the ground just as Ibragim Todashev was pulling away in a white Mercedes.
The officer chased down the Mercedes, ordered Ibragim Todashev out at gunpoint and arrested him.
The son was later treated at a hospital with a split upper lip, several teeth knocked out and head injuries.