Reni Todashev and Zubeidat Tsarnaev comfort each other in Makhachkala, Dagestan
Zubeidat and Anzor Tsarnaevâ€™s lives were changed forever April 19, 2013 when they learned their eldest son Tamerlan was killed by Boston police and their younger son Dhzokhar (also called Jahar) was severely wounded and in prison, accused of bombing the Boston marathon.
Reni Todashevâ€™s life was changed forever on May 22, when she heard the news that her husband Ibragim had been killed by the FBI during a related interrogation in their Orlando, Florida home.
Ibragim Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev only knew each other from the gym and were not close friends, but Reni travelled to Dagestan on July 31 to visit the Tsarnaevs after burying her love in Chechnya. They had never met before. The Muslim Observer asked Reni what made her decide to visit.
â€œTragedy made us a family and, just like I felt that I wanted to be in the courtroom – same here,â€ she replied. â€œWe cried so much thereâ€™s just no more tears left.â€ She described the Tsarnaevs as a â€œthoughtful, blessed, loving each other couple.â€
â€œWe just prayed for Jahar, and for our boys who were killed by the FBI. [Zubeidat] is a very strong woman and I have learned from her a lot. I am strong but she gave me more power to fight. Sheâ€™s my family as well. That tragedy connected us. She lives with her husband Anzor. I love them as my parents. That pain they have no one can feel. That pain in their hearts and eyes only Allah knows. They lost one son and another kid in jail for no reason. Worst part no one can do anything but wait. Time is killing,â€ said Reni, who was working in Atlanta, Georgia at the time of her husbandâ€™s murder.
Ibragim came to the US to study. In Russia he was an English translator. He met Reni through a mutual friend in May of 2010, and they got married in Boston in July of 2010.
â€œWe had always dreamed to go home together and we did but in different sections of the plane,â€ Reni replied sadly. â€œI was the passenger, he was the baggage.â€
â€œI had problems with shipping the body,â€ Reni told TMO. â€œDelta company refused to take my husbandâ€™s body. They say itâ€™s a business decision, they canâ€™t jeopardize their reputation. I still found a company who took my husbandâ€™s body.â€
â€œAt the airport they have marked me when I was getting my boarding pass. Then they took me to search me… of course didnâ€™t find anything. Of course Iâ€™m a Muslim widow – too dangerous.â€ Todashevâ€™s June 20 funeral was â€œpretty big,â€ she said.
Reniâ€™s sister Yana Manukyan told supporters, â€œOur mom (Ibragimâ€™s mother in law) works for the US Army. She has health problems, she had a few surgeries and no longer can work for the Army due to her health condition. She has already completed all the documents for quitting the Army, she has few months left before she stops serving. The FBI froze her files her files and is trying to cancel the process, they have cancelled her benefits. FBI is now doing everything to our family to stop us to live a life. They want us to stop Ibragimâ€™s investigation. FBI doesnâ€™t want us to continue fighting to find out the truth of what happened. They want us to forget what happened by shutting down our family with problems. And they think that they will make us to forget what they have done to Ibra. Why is FBI messing with our family? They are making it more obvious they are guilty of murder. This has to stop. They have to give us the autopsy report… they have to give us the money they took from his house… they have to give back the personal stuff that belongs to Reni and Ibragim.â€
The FBI took many things from their home: thousands in cash, all their personal identity documents, personal clothing, shoes, all electronics (phones, laptops, iPads), the kitchen table, a decorative sword, saying itâ€™s evidence, â€œGod knows evidence of What,â€ remarked Yana.
â€œIâ€™m so not lettin that go,â€ Reni told TMO.
â€œThey were following Ibragim everyday everywhere he goes, following in civilian cars,â€ Yana said. â€œNo one was at the house of the murder day. Hussein Taramov came with him but they didnâ€™t let him in. He and another local FBI agent Chris were outside of the apartment 4 hours, from 7:30pm until 11:30pm. Three Boston agents went inside with Ibragim to his house. At 11:30pm a Boston agent came out and told the local agent and Hussein that they can go. Hussein wanted to stay but they told him he canâ€™t even wait in the parking lot.â€
â€œWe can only guess what was going on there, until there is an official investigation,â€ Ibragimâ€™s father, Abdulbaki Todashev said.
The FBI claims that right before they killed him, Todashev was about to confess to an unsolved 2011 triple murder in Boston, but there were no questions raised related to this issue. Ibragim was in Atlanta at the time of the Boston murders, Reni said.
Reni said she and her mother in Savannah, Georgia were also visited by FBI agents that same evening. They were only questioned about Ibragimâ€™s relationship with Tamerlan, who had called him a few days before his death to inquire how Ibragim was doing after knee surgery.
Photos of their home, published in Russian media, show blood near the front door. Ibragim was clearly trying to flee when he was killed after several hours of interrogation. His eye was badly bruised and indented, said Reni. FBI agents hit him hard with something before they shot him several times in the heart, one time in the liver and a final â€œkill shotâ€ to the back of the head.
Reni told Russian Times that there were no shots to the arms or legs. The FBI was clearly trying to kill Ibragim, not to subdue him. The FBI is preventing officials from releasing the autopsy report.
Ibrahimâ€™s father Abdulbaki Todashev called the earlier claims that Ibragim was shot attempting to attack an FBI agent â€œabsurd,â€ saying four or five police and FBI officers could have easily handled such an attack without needing to kill his son, who was still limping from surgery.
Reni told Russian Times, â€œI think by killing Ibrahim they make it more suspicious about the bombing incident… They killed one brother Tamerlan, so they need somebody whoâ€™s alive, who can speak, so they can tell them what happened, if they was thinking Ibrahim is involved in that, but they strangely killed him, it means they were not trying to see what actually happened… Heâ€™s definitely not a witness. He didnâ€™t know anything, but they are trying to connect him with the Boston bombing.â€
Meanwhile, the surviving Tsarnaev brother, who didnâ€™t used to practice regular prayers, fasted this Ramadan in prison. â€œMama Zubiâ€ told supporters to send him religious books: â€œJahar feels better reading something about Islam! It brings his spirit up and helps him to become stronger.â€