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Entries in Boston Marathon (4)

Thursday
May302013

FBI 'Bandits' Executed Friend of Boston Suspect, Father Claims

Orange County Sheriff's Office(MOSCOW) -- The father of a Chechen man who was friends with one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers claims his son was shot “execution style” by the FBI last week.

“I want justice and an investigation in accordance with American laws to punish those who are guilty,” Abdul-Baki Todashev said. “They were not FBI employees, but bandits.”

The deceased man, 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev, was shot and killed by FBI investigators who were interrogating him about whether he had any role in, or had any advance knowledge of, last month’s Boston Marathon bombing. They also questioned him about his role in an unsolved triple murder in 2011. Todashev was a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston attack.

Todashev was shot seven times, including once to the head, according to his father. He displayed graphic photos, taken by friends who claimed the body from an Orlando-area morgue, as evidence. The authenticity of the photos could not be verified, but they show several bullet holes in the body, including one to the head.

“To make sure that he was dead,” the father said, speaking in Russian.

At a press conference in Moscow, where he is applying for a visa to travel to the United States to collect the body, Abdul-Baki Todashev questioned why his son had been shot so many times even though he was said to be unarmed.

“They could have simply grabbed my son or, in the worst case, they could have wounded him,” he said, noting that the FBI’s story has been evolving.

“They simply killed him as they wanted and my opinion is that they wanted to get rid of him to shut him up,” he added.

Initially, the FBI said that the agents felt endangered after Todashev attacked them with a knife and they fired on him in self defense. This week, however, officials said he lunged, possibly for one of the agent’s guns or a sword that was in the room, but was unarmed when he was killed. The press conference was scheduled before the latest FBI revelation.

Abdul-Baki Todashev said his son was killed during his third interrogation by law enforcement. During the first, he said, the younger Todashev was questioned about his role and knowledge of the Boston bombing. During the second interrogation, they began to ask him about the triple murder in Waltham, Mass., he said. Officials claim Todashev was in the process of confessing to the murders when he threatened the agents.

The father denied his son was involved in the Boston bombing, saying Todashev only knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev because they boxed at the same gym in Boston.

“They were just acquaintances, not close friends,” the father said. He denied his son had any ties to militants or extreme religious views.

The father cast doubt on the FBI’s claims that his son was about to confess to a role in the triple murder, noting that his son had received a green card just a few months ago and would not have been able to do so if there was any suspicion about him.

“I know him so well. I know what he can do and what he can’t,” the father said.

He questioned why a friend, who was also interviewed that night, was asked to leave when they began to interview Todashev. He also wondered why no video or audio evidence has been made public to corroborate the FBI’s version of events.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr212013

Mother of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects: 'My Family Is in the Dirt'

Obtained by ABC News(Makhachkala, Dagestan) -- The mother of the Boston bombing suspects said in a tearful phone call with ABC News on Saturday evening that she and her husband plan to travel to the United States to visit their younger son, who was arrested on Friday.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said she fears 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is suspected of planting two bombs at Monday's Boston Marathon along with his older brother Tamerlan, will receive the death penalty.

"I lost two sons," she said. "My family is in the dirt."

The mother did not say when she plans to travel to the United States. She fears being unable to do so, despite holding an American passport, because she is now the parent of a suspected terrorist.

Earlier in the day, Tsarnaeva and her husband Anzor Tsarnaev sought to avoid the crowd of media that descended upon the capital city in the restive region of Dagestan.

In an apparent attempt to foil journalists, relatives told those seeking interviews that the couple had left town. But just hours later the father was spotted jumping into his car near his home in central Makhachkala.

Neighbors described the family as friendly and normal.

"He wasn't too religious," one neighbor said about the father. "There was no fanaticism."

In the village outside the capital where the mother's relatives live, few were willing to talk about the family.

In the phone call with ABC News, Tsarnaeva reiterated claims made by her husband in earlier interviews that both of their sons were framed by the U.S. government.

She said her oldest son Tamerlan, the 26-year-old who was killed by police early Friday, was investigated two years ago by the FBI only because "he loved Islam" and said he "didn't do anything bad."

The FBI said in a statement released Friday that it investigated Tamerlan in 2011 at the behest of a foreign government, though it did not reveal which one.

"The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country's region to join unspecified underground groups," the FBI statement said.

The bureau said that in response to the request it combed through its databases and interviewed the man and members of his family, but did not find any evidence he was tied to terror groups.

"The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011. The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government," the FBI statement said.

"They were all afraid of Tamerlan," his mother said, referring to the U.S. government. "They wanted to eliminate him as a threat because he was in love with Islam. For the last five years they were following him."

The anxiety of losing both her sons, Tsarnaeva said, is debilitating. She described feeling so sick she has to call for an ambulance every two and a half hours.

"I don't know how to live like this," she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr202013

Czech Republic Ambassador: Don’t Confuse Us with Chechnya

iStockphoto(NEW YORK) -- The Czech Republic and Chechnya are nearly 2,000 miles apart, but that didn’t stop people from mixing up their geography.

The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers, are of Chechen ethnicity. When the similar sounding Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe, began getting buzz online, the country’s ambassador to the United States stepped in to clear up the social media confusion.

 “As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect,” Ambassador Petr Gandalovič wrote in a statement, after first offering his condolences to the victims of the bombings.

“The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation,” he explained.

Chechens are an ethnic group hailing from the southern edge of the Russian border, known as the North Caucasus region, whose history has been marked by its violent struggles for independence. Chechnya, a republic, is bordered by Georgia.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr182013

Death of Lu Lingzi in Boston Marathon Bombing Shattered Parents Dreams

Courtesy Darson Li(BOSTON) -- Boston University graduate student Lu Lingzi, the third victim to die in the Boston Marathon bombings, was the embodiment of her parents' highest hopes, a daughter born under China's one-child policy.

The ambitious 23-year-old was studying mathematics and statistics, and was at the marathon with friends to cheer on runners near the finish line when she was killed, according to Boston University. On her Weibo account, the Chinese version of Twitter, she extolled the virtues of American life -- blueberry waffles, Godiva dark chocolate, and ice cream.

In a telephone interview with ABC News, Lu's father described the death of their only child as a "dagger in our hearts." Initially, the family did not want to publicly disclose the name of their daughter, but later authorized Boston University to do so.

"If you only have one kid to fall back on, the idea of losing that child would make you bereft," said Toni Falbo, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who specializes in Chinese families. "If you have two or three kids, and one dies, you have a reason to carry on and continue with your life.

"The parents must be utterly devastated and feel helpless, even more so, because they are so far away," she said.

Lu's father said he is in the process of obtaining a visa so he can travel to the United States to claim his daughter's body. He spoke of the pride he has felt in his daughter's accomplishments.

The family is from Shenyang in northeast, one of the largest cities in China. Lu attended the prestigious Northeast Yucai School then studied at Beijing Institute of Technology, both on scholarship. The family had saved their income so their daughter could study at Boston University, where the tuition for a graduate degree in mathematical finance is a staggering $60,888.

American universities, especially the most competitive institutions -- many of them in Boston -- have been a growing magnet for Chinese students. Last year, 194,000 obtained visas for higher education in the United States, according to the Institute of International Education.

For Chinese parents who invest so much of their emotion and earnings in the academic success of their children, Lu's death was not just the end of a lifelong dream, but also the family's legacy.

"With a daughter, they would have expected [Lu] to be their caretaker," said Falbo, who has studied the one-child policy. "That's their Social Security."

"Everyone is devastated by the loss of a child, but this is like pulling the rug out from under them, without any obvious sense of recovery," Falbo said.

China's one-child policy started in 1979, applying only to urban families, who represent the highest portion of the population.

The policy was first implemented to address overpopulation and to promote economic development, part of a "whole package of changes to amass clout and capability" in the world, according to Falbo.

"No one thinks it will be permanent -- that's a stupid idea," she said. "Having 2.1 children is a replacement level. Two to replace the parents, and .1 if a child gets sick and dies."

The strict law has applied only to urban areas, not in rural towns were parents typically had larger families.

"Rural people were more interested in helpers to work the farm and had more traditional values," said Falbo. "They would more likely want a son. Urban people were persuaded to have daughters. They are more worthwhile because they stay home."

But by the end of the 20th century, Chinese analysts began to be worried about the shrinking number of young workers and not enough children to take care of the elderly.

Some say that a phase-out of the one-child policy may be imminent.

According to a March report in Forbes magazine, the one-child rule has "disrupted Chinese society both socially and economically. On the social front, you have two generations of Chinese adults who never had the benefits of growing up in the competitive environment of siblings. In fact, they likely grew up in a pampered environment that tends to create a society of self-centered people."

But Falbo's research did not support the stereotypes.

"By and large these only children are not the little emperors they are made out to be," she said. "We looked at careful methodologies and counted factors like socio-economic status, and they do pretty well and are surprisingly like everyone else."

Parents are fined when they have a second child, and some argue that has kept the policy alive. "The local officials don't want to lose this possible money source," said Falbo. "But I think all the demographers and people who have done population studies say it's time to let it go."

Until then, cultural experts say all of a family's focus becomes the one child.

"Life in China is very family-centered," said Yuan Gao, director of the Asian Studies and Chinese programs at Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.

"For [Lu's] parents this must be a heavy hit," said Gao, who emigrated from Shanghai in 1986 to study at the University of Wisconsin. "It's terrible in any culture, but more so under China's one-child policy. The blow to the family must be almost unbearable."

"In the West, when a child is born, they pick a name like Laura or Sarah. In a Chinese family, they take great care, choosing a name with words like 'hope' or 'healthy' or 'be prosperous'," he said. "Those kinds of words carry the hopes and expectations of parents for the incoming child."

Education is also paramount. Gao, who has spent 23 years at the school, said Peddie had seen a marked increase in applications from mainland China since taking the first student in 2005. As a result, he said, the selection rate for Chinese students is "much harder than Harvard."

He said parents like Lu's look for the freedom and creativity in education they cannot find in China.

"The living standards have changed so much, that people's expectations are higher," said Gao. "They look to the U.S."

"People find ways to afford it," he said. "They believe that if something is good for the education of children, they will sacrifice everything to do that. Parents will do almost anything to make that happen."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio