In the six months following the Boston Marathon bombing the Federal Bureau of Investigation has continuously intimidated, disciplined, deported and in one case even shot to death persons who were only vaguely connected with alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Tamarlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
These individuals, most of whom are Chechen, might help clarify the FBI’s methods of immigrant recruitment for undercover work, and how such practices may relate to the Bureau’s prior relationship with the bombing suspects.
The FBI’s concern with such marginal figures began with its daily questioning of Chechen immigrant Ibragim Todashev and his girlfriend and fellow immigrant, Tatiana Gruzdeva. Todashev had been a friend of the alleged lead Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. At one interrogation in Orlando, Florida, Todashev was shot to death by an FBI agent who claimed Todashev assaulted him during questioning.
Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Florida chapter of the Center for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), says FBI agents harassed and intimidated friends of the slain Todashev: using possible informants to monitor press conferences, following individuals, interrogating them for hours, and even imprisoning them on dubious charges.
Shibly also asserts that government agents are threatening the Chechens with deportation unless they “cooperate”—a tactic he thinks may involve enrolling them as government spies.
Two people left the US to avoid further harassment. Another has been deported, while a fourth is currently facing deportation; none has a criminal record. The majority of persons are two or more acquaintances removed from both Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother.
Source: Dave Lindorff, Russ Baker and Milicent Cranor, “FBI War on Boston Witnesses,” WhoWhatWhy.com, October 29, 2013, http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/10/29/feds-accused-of-harassing-boston-bomber-friends-and-friends-of-friends/.
Student Researcher: Chelsea Cannon and Tatyana Denson (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)