MOSCOW -- The father of a man who was shot to death by the FBI while being questioned about his ties to a suspect in the the Boston Marathon bombings said Thursday that photographs of his son’s bullet wounds suggest that he was “executed” by the FBI.
At a news conference in Moscow, Abdulbaki Todashev displayed 16 photos that, he said, showed that his son, Ibragim Todashev, had been shot seven times, including “at least one in the back, and one in the back of his head.”
It was not the first time that Todashev had questioned the FBI’s account of the slaying. He previously said he could not believe his son had become violent.
Ibragim Todashev was killed during questioning in Orlando, Fla., on May 22. The FBI said investigators were questioning him about an unsolved triple homicide on Sept. 11, 2011, when Todashev became violent. The agency initially said he had lunged at agents with a knife, but later said it was not clear exactly what had happened.
The Washington Post, citing unidentified law enforcement officials, reported Thursday that authorities now believe that Todashev was unarmed.
The FBI has been looking into the possibility that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the marathon bombing suspect who was killed in a confrontation with police, may have been involved in the triple homicide. Todashev, an immigrant from the restive Russian republic of Chechnya, was a friend of Tsarnaev’s. and they shared a Chechen heritage.
The FBI had no immediate response to Abdulbaki Todashev’s claims, the Associated Press reported. The agency issued a statement Wednesday saying it was conducting a review of the shooting and cannot comment “regarding investigative details” until it is done.
“The FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents, and as such, we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally,” the statement said. “The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times after his news conference, Todashev said it appeared that his son had been shot by multiple agents from both the front and back.
“The shot in the back of the head indicates that they were shooting to finish him off,” he said. “My son was interrogated for eight hours by four or five FBI agents and I will never believe he could be in a position to attack any of them. In the very least between the four of them they could have subdued him physically instead of riddling him with bullets.”
It was not possible to independently verify the accuracy of the photographs Todashev displayed.
Todashev’s charge that his son was intentionally killed by the FBI dovetails in some respects with a conspiracy theory advanced by the father of the two bombing suspects, Anzor Tsarnaev, who said his two sons were “set up” because they were Muslims.
“They could have killed him because he must have known too much,” Todashev said of his son. “After the Boston bombing the first thing he said to me over the phone was that the [Tsarnaev] brothers were set up.”
Todashev, however, expressed confidence in the U.S. justice system.
“America is a democratic country and I hope there will be a thorough and proper investigation into the circumstances of my son’s death,” he said. “After all, there are many honest and professional people there, unlike the scoundrels who executed my son.”
Todashev, who is an official in the mayor’s office of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, said he was in Moscow to visit the U.S. Embassy and get a visa to travel to the United States to pick up his son’s body to bring home for burial.
A Russian journalist and television anchor, Maxim Shevchenko, who conducted the news conference with Todashev, said the photographs of Ibragim Todashev’s body were taken at a Muslim mortuary in Orlando by a friend of the slain man, Khusen Taramov, and emailed to the father.
Taramov has said he was with the younger Todashev during part of his questioning by the FBI, but had been asked to leave and was not there during the shooting.
However, in his interview after the news conference, Todashev refused to say who took the photographs or who sent them. “My friends sent them to me” he said.