GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - The father of a Chechen immigrant killed during questioning over his links with one of the Boston Marathon bombings suspects said on Thursday he plans to travel to the United States where he thinks his son was tortured and killed.
Ibragim Todashev, 27, was killed by a federal agent in his apartment complex when he became violent during questioning over his ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of two brothers suspected of planting two bombs at the marathon on April 15.
“I suspect that they tortured my son and that he suffered a painful death,” said Abdulbaki Todashev, wiping away tears at the home he shares with one of his wives in the mostly Muslim region of Chechnya in Russia’s North Caucasus.
“I will try to go to (the United States) and get to the truth,” he said as he received neighbors and acquaintances paying their respects to the dead man, the oldest of 12 children between his father’s two wives.
Todashev had met the Tsarnaevs when he travelled to the United States to improve his English, said his father, who works in the mayor’s office in Chechnya’s main city of Grozny and is said to be on close terms with regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
He said he gave his permission when his son asked to stay in the United States because he said it was safer than Chechnya, where separatists waged two wars with Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and militants still fight for an Islamic state.
Todashev travelled to the United States in 2008 on a Russian passport, a federal law enforcement source said, and lived in Boston before moving to Florida, where he was killed. His father said he had a plane ticket to return to Russia on Friday.
“He shouldn’t have left. He lived comfortably and his mother was very worried about him because he was the oldest in the family and she was used to him being a model for the others,” said a neighbor, Malika, who refused to give her last name.
The FBI agent who shot Todashev, who practiced mixed martial arts, has not been publicly identified but is from the agency’s Boston division, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
U.S. media reported that Todashev implicated himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in a Boston suburb that investigators believe was drug related. Authorities were investigating possible connections between Tsarnaev and the crime.
“Chechens have a power in their unity and interest in what happens in their homeland. It unites them. That’s the reason my son became an acquaintance of the Tsarnaevs,” said Todashev, speaking in the courtyard of his older wife’s house.
Todashev is one of at least two friends of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who Federal investigators have been looking at very thoroughly since the Tsarnaevs were first identified as Boston bombing suspects, a law enforcement source said.
A friend of Todashev in the United States, Khusen Taramov, said Todashev was trailed constantly for the past several weeks by agents and questioned repeatedly by phone and in face-to-face interviews which lasted as long as five hours. Taramov said he was questioned as well.
Todashev was arrested on May 4 and charged with aggravated battery after getting into a fight with another man over a parking space at an Orlando shopping mall, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando.
The man, who suffered a split upper lip and had several teeth knocked out of place, did not to press charges against Todashev, who was released from jail on a $3,500 bond, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.
Additional Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington D.C. and Barbara Liston in Orlando; Writing by Thomas Grove; Editing by Jon Hemming