May 23, 2013

Father of man shot in Boston probe shares regrets

Abdul-Baki Todashev says he agreed to his son's request to remain in the U.S. 'because it seemed like the safest country.'

Musa Sadulayev / The Associated Press

GROZNY, Russia — The father of a Chechen immigrant shot dead by U.S. law enforcement agents while being questioned about his ties to a Boston Marathon bombings suspect said Thursday that he regrets allowing his son to go to the United States.

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This May 4 police photo provided by the Orange County Corrections Department in Orlando, Fla., shows Ibragim Todashev after his arrest on a charge of aggravated battery.

AP

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Ibragim Todashev, 27, was a mixed martial arts fighter who had trained with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Boston, and his father said they had bonded because of their shared interests and heritage as Chechens from southern Russia. Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police days after the April 15 terrorist attack.

Todashev was killed Wednesday after an altercation with an FBI agent during a meeting with the agent and two Massachusetts state troopers at his home in central Florida.

Abdul-Baki Todashev told The Associated Press that his son — the second of 12 children — was at university when he got an opportunity to go to the United States to study English about five or six years ago. He said he later agreed to his son's request to remain in the U.S. "because it seemed like the safest country."

Chechnya has been ravaged by two wars between separatist fighters and Russian federal troops since 1994, and remains troubled by periodic outbreaks of violence. The family's red-brick house on the outskirts of Grozny, the Chechen capital, still bears the marks of shrapnel.

The elder Todashev said his son gave up martial arts because of an injury and later held a number of jobs, including as a driver at a retirement home, before moving to Florida within the last year. His father said his son had planned to come to Chechnya this week to visit his extended family, but was asked by the FBI to delay his trip.

The FBI gave no details on why it was interested in Ibragim Todashev except to say that he was being questioned as part of the Boston investigation. However, two officials briefed on the investigation said he had implicated himself as having been involved in a 2011 triple-slaying in a Boston suburb; investigators now suspect that Tsarnaev may have been involved in the unsolved crime.

Abdul-Baki Todashev said he had learned of his son's death from a phone call from one of his son's friends, who also had been questioned by the FBI. He said the friend, whom he didn't name, told him that both of them had been pressured to confess to the murders, but that they were innocent.

The father said he was worried that with his son was dead, the FBI could now pin any crime on him.

"Out of fear of the lawlessness in Chechnya, I sent him to the U.S., because it seemed like the safest country at the time," the distraught father said. "Now I'm thinking about how to bring home his body. As it turns out I sent him to his death."

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