Interesting that Susan Zalkland, the author of the interview with link below, took the initiative to make contact with Tatiana Gruzdeva, the young woman who had been incarcerated by U.S. immigration authorities at the time her Chechen boyfriend was murdered by FBI agents in his own home in Florida
and had been accused by FBI in a pre Boston bombing murder case in Boston that the FBI is blaming on him and Djokar Tsarnaev.
New Details in the FBI Shooting Death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Associate
Ibragim Todashev’s live-in girlfriend, Tatiana Gruzdeva, reveals what happened in the days leading up to the shooting in their Florida apartment.By Susan Zalkind | Boston Daily |
- Boston magazine has learned that Orlando police have arrested a man believed to be a friend of Ibragim Todashev—the Chechen man shot by the FBI in May while being questioned in his Florida apartment in connection with both the marathon bombings and a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham.
- According to an arrest affidavit obtained from the Orange County Sheriff’s office, Ashurmamad Miraliev, 23, originally from Tajikistan, was arrested at about 6 p.m. Wednesday on an Osceola County warrant for allegedly threatening a victim of a crime. It is not known whether this charge has anything to do with Todashev’s death, the bombings, or the homicide case............
On Wednesday night, hours after the arrest, I spoke with Gruzdeva on the phone. She described to me the events of the days leading up to Todashev’s killing, which she said she learned of while being held in solitary confinement. “There is a lot of pain in my heart,” she told me, weeping.
In the moments before Todashev’s death, the FBI claims, he implicated both himself and marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the murder of three young men in Waltham on September 11, 2011. One of those men, Erik Weissman, was my friend. My father Norman Zalkind, a defense lawyer, was representing him for a pending January 2011 drug charge...........................
When Tatiana Gruzdeva first met Ibgrim Todashev through a mutual friend, she was new to Florida, staying with friends, and looking for a more permanent place to live.
Todashev told her he had a big apartment with two floors. He invited her to move in, she said. She took one floor and he took another.
“First it was just friends,” she said, “and after we starting having relationship and we were sleeping together like boyfriend and girlfriend.” She used to cook him meals. Together they adopted a cat, Masia. “It was like a small family, me and him and the cat, he was like a little baby for us.”
She knew Todashev had been married before, to Reni Manukyan, 24, an Armenian-American he had met in Boston. Manukyan has told the Washington Post that she and Todashev were separated. Gruzdeva said she believed they were divorced.
Around the time of the marathon bombing, Gruzdeva recalled, Todashev seemed sad. At first he would not tell her why.
“When the bombings happened, he didn’t tell me it was his friend, he just was so sad. I said, ‘What happen with you?’ He said, ‘Nothing.’ Long time he don’t want to tell me. And after he tell me, “My friend is dead.” He didn’t elaborate, she said. She never knew the name of the friend he was mourning.
One morning in May, as Gruzdeva was washing dishes, Todashev stepped outside. Then, through the window, she heard men shouting: “Move down! Move down!” She turned off the water and looked out to see her boyfriend on the ground, surrounded by FBI agents. They were wearing plainclothes, she said, so at first she had no idea who the men were. “I was so nervous I panicked,” she said. She shut the door and ran upstairs, where she hid in the second floor bathroom. When she emerged, Todashev was in handcuffs, with six or seven FBI agents around him.
They put a chair in the middle of the room, she said, and made Todashev sit in it.
“Ibragim said, ‘I have a pain in my knee, I just had surgery.’ They said, ‘We don’t care, we just have a couple questions for you. We know you was an ultimate fighter with MMA, so we know you could do something.’ He said, ‘I will not do anything because I’m just off surgery, I’m not stupid.’”
The agents began questioning Todashev about the Boston bombing, she said, asking him what he knew and where he was the day of the attack. Gruzdeva spoke up: “He was with me, he was in the house, we didn’t do anything wrong,” she recalled telling the agents.
“They just kept asking again and again, the same questions,” she said.
They asked Todashev if he knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev, she said. He replied that the two of them had been friends. In Boston they had trained in martial arts together and gone clubbing together before Tsarnaev had become more devout. Gruzdeva told me that this was the first time she had heard her boyfriend talk about Tsarnaev.
Eventually, the agents left with Todashev, confiscating all his phones and all his computers. About six hours later, she said, Todashev came back and reassured her that everything was OK. The next day, she said, agents returned their electronics.
In the days that followed, Gruzdeva said, the FBI contacted the couple regularly on the phone, visited their home, and called them into FBI offices for more questioning.
The agents asked about a call Todashev received from Tsarnaev after Todashev’s surgery. Todashev told the FBI that the two men had simply made small talk. They pressed him, asking why he had deleted the call from his phone’s memory. “I was scared,” Gruzdeva remembered him answering.
When Gruzdeva met with FBI agents, she said, they at first continued to ask her about the marathon bombing. Then they brought up a new topic: a triple murder.
“They said, ‘We think he did something else, before.’ They said he killed three people in Boston 2011 with a knife. I said, ‘It’ s not true! I can’t believe it.’ You know, I was living with him seven months, and we have a cat.”
Gruzdeva told me that she and Todashev believed they were being followed by the FBI on their way to work or to visit friends. Todashev would point out cars that he believed were driven by FBI agents, she said.
One day, the FBI called Todashev back to their office again. Gruzdeva went with him and waited in the lobby, she said. That’s when an agent she recognized approached her and asked to talk.
“And I already saw him a couple times so it was normal, so I told him, ‘I’m waiting for Ibragim,’” she told me. “And he said, ‘So what? It’s just going to be a couple minutes. He knows about it.’” So she went with him to an office. Another agent joined them, she said. Then, she says, they questioned her for three hours.
“They asked me again and again about Ibragim and all this stuff. They asked me, ‘Can you tell us when he will do something?’ I said, ‘No! I can’t!’ Because he wasn’t doing anything, and I didn’t know anything. And they said, ‘Oh, really? So why don’t we call immigration.’”
Gruzdev told me that she is from Tiraspol, a town in the former Soviet country of Moldova. She had come to America in 2012 on a student work visa, which had since expired. “I said, ‘Come on guys, you cannot do this! You know my visa was expired and you didn’t do anything. And now because you need me and I say I don’t want to help you, you just call to immigration?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ And they called immigration and immigration came and they put me in the jail.”
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Citizenship Services said that ICE cannot release or confirm any details of an individual detention without a written waiver. Gruzdeva had signed such a waiver, the spokeswoman said, but it had since expired.
For the first week, Gruzdeva told me, she was kept in an immigration detention facility. She was allowed to talk to Todashev every day on the phone. She said he told her that when he had come to find her in the lobby the day she was detained, FBI agents mocked him, saying “Where’s your girlfriend?”
She said the mocking infuriated Todashev. “He said, ‘I want to hit them because I was so mad, why they lie to me? They stole you.’”
Later that week, the facility had a visiting day, she said. Todashev came to see her.
“He kissed me, he hugged me like never, it was so sweet, like always. And he tell me, ‘I will marry you when you get out of here, or in the jail, whatever. If we can marry in the jail, we will marry in the jail.’”...
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