Feds Accused Of Harassing “Boston Bomber” Friends, And Friends Of Friends
(This story originally ran in Who What Why News)
In the six months since the Boston Marathon bombing, the FBI has by all appearances been relentlessly intimidating, punishing, deporting and, in one case, shooting to death, persons connected, sometimes only tangentially, with the alleged bombers.
All of these individuals have something in common: If afforded constitutional protections and treated as witnesses instead of perpetrators, they could potentially help clear up questions about the violence of April 15. And they might also be able to help clarify the methods and extent of the FBI’s recruitment of immigrants and others for undercover work, and how that could relate to the Bureau’s prior relationship with the bombing suspects—a relationship the Bureau has variously hidden or downplayed.
Who Cares? We Do
The Boston tragedy may seem like a remote, distant memory, yet the bombing warrants continued scrutiny as a seminal event of our times. It was, after all, the only major terror attack in the United States since 9/11. With its grisly scenes of severed limbs and dead bodies, including that of a child, it shook Americans profoundly.
As importantly, in its aftermath we’ve seen public acquiescence in an ongoing erosion of civil liberties and privacy rights that began with 9/11—and to an unprecedented expansion of federal authority in the form of a unique military/law enforcement “lockdown” of a major metropolitan area.
Nonetheless, at the time, most news organizations simply accepted at face value the shifting and thin official accounts of the strange events. Today few give the still-unfolding saga even the most minimal attention. And it is most certainly still unfolding, as we shall see.
The Little-Noticed Post-Marathon Hunt
The FBI’s strange obsession with marginal figures loosely connected to the bombing story began last May, with the daily questioning of a Chechen immigrant, Ibragim Todashev, and of his girlfriend and fellow immigrant, Tatiana Gruzdeva. Todashev had been a friend of the alleged lead Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a hail of police gunfire four days after the bombing. Tsarnaev’s younger brother Dzhokhar barely survived a massive police strafing of a trailered boat in which he was hiding, trapped and unarmed.
During one interrogation in Orlando, Florida, where Todashev was living, something went awry and he ended up dead from gunshots. Although to date the FBI has provided only hazy and inconsistent accounts of that incident, the killing of a suspect and potential witness in custody was clearly a highly irregular and problematical occurrence, replete with apparent violations of Bureau and standard law-enforcement procedure.
On the heels of those two deaths and the one near-death has followed what appears to be a concerted effort directed against a larger circle of people connected, if not to the Tsarnaevs, then to Todashev.
The purpose of this campaign is not clear, but it has raised some eyebrows.
In an interview with WhoWhatWhy, Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Florida chapter of the Center for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), described aggressive behavior directed by FBI agents at vocal friends of the dead Todashev: using suspected informants to monitor their press conferences, following targeted individuals around, interrogating them for hours—often without an attorney, and jailing them on what he says are trumped-up charges.
Shibly further claims that government agents are threatening these immigrants with deportation unless they agree to “cooperate”—a tactic which he portrays as seeking to enroll these people as de facto spies for the federal government.
Two people have left the country to escape further harassment. Another has been deported, while a fourth is currently facing deportation; none of them has a criminal record. The bulk of this group were at most friends of a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev—and apparently didn’t personally know either of the Tsarnaevs.
For the rest of this article, please go to: Who What Why News