Boston Bombing Core Mystery: Why are Feds Not Interested in this Man?

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing, though important FBI statements were never heard at trial. Photo adapted from: ZaldyImg / Flickr

Now that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for his involvement in the Boston Marathon Bombing, and the lengthy inevitable Death Row appeals process begins, the investigative work for conscientious journalists continues as well.

As readers of WhoWhatWhy know the case is chock full of unresolved issues, inconsistencies, and anomalies that cast doubt on whether we learned even the most basic truths of what happened on April 15, 2013, or why. Perhaps most troubling is the FBI’s successful effort to minimize its prior relationship with Tsarnaev’s dead older brother, Tamerlan—a relationship that demands focused attention because of the Bureau’s long, documented history of placing its own assets inside violent plots as infiltrators or informants. A cast of “highly interesting” secondary characters have behaved oddly enough that any serious inquiry would focus on them.

One in particular draws our attention: a Chechen native who immigrated with his family to Chelsea, MA in 2004, Viskhan Vakhabov. He received a telephone call from Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bombings’ alleged senior conspirator, at an incredibly important moment: right before Tsarnaev allegedly shot an MIT patrol officer.

Yet federal authorities have bizarrely shown almost no interest in Vakhabov. Indeed, the FBI and Justice Department seemed only too glad to let the man avoid testifying in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial. It is hard to see why those seeking the truth could possibly not consider Vakhabov crucial. The government appears to be shielding a man who may have crucial knowledge about the case, which supposedly was a “lone wolves” operation limited to the two brothers.

“I don’t have any comments or anything to talk about,” Vakhabov told WhoWhatWhy via phone.

Earlier, the government said that Vakhabov lied to the FBI about “matters of great import” relating to the Boston bombing investigation, according to a court transcript. But when Vakhabov refused to testify in court, citing his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, the prosecution fought to keep his FBI statements from being admitted into evidence.

Reporters line up outside the courthouse in Boston where the Marathon bombing trial took place. None have yet spoken with Viskhan Vakhabov, who declined to testify at the trial though he received a phone call from the convicted bomber immediately following the attacks. Photo credit: Jill Vaglica

Reporters line up outside the courthouse in Boston where the Marathon bombing trial took place. None have yet spoken with Viskhan Vakhabov, who declined to testify at the trial though he received a phone call from the convicted bomber immediately following the attacks. Photo credit: Jill Vaglica

Hiding What?

What could possibly be self-incriminating about Vakhabov’s statements to the FBI, if the Tsarnaevs (as the government claims), acted alone? Vakhabov spoke with the Tsarnaev brothers on their secret cell phones two hours before the carjacking on Brighton Avenue. Could Vakhabov have been in any way involved? If so, why hasn’t he faced any criminal charges?

Particularly interesting is that the government heavily redacted Vakhabov’s FBI 302 interview summary form. It could contain crucial and “self-incriminating” information relating to the bombing investigation—and specifically, the carjacking allegedly perpetrated by the Tsarnaevs after video with their images was released by the FBI three days after the bombings.

In order to justify that Vakhabov should be dismissed as an unreliable witness, prosecutor William Weinreb revealed in court some tantalizing facts about him. “I think it’s undisputed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev contacted him on April 18th, I believe, between the time that Officer Collier was murdered and the time that Dun Meng was carjacked,” Weinreb said. “And he has given quite inconsistent statements about what that conversation was about and about what Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have asked him or said to him.”

Why would Tamerlan Tsarnaev contact this man—or any person—while subject to an intense manhunt? Obviously, that call should have been important to investigators, perhaps even a crucial indicator of a larger conspiracy.

That phone call wasn’t even the only significant interaction between the two. According to phone records released by the DOJ last month, Weinreb failed to mention that the Tsarnaevs called Vakhabov from the prepaid “burner” cell phone account they opened in order to coordinate the bombings. Vakhabov is the only person they spoke with using the “burner” phone. Why did the brothers deem it acceptable to contact Vakhabov with this cell phone? If he had nothing to do with their actions, why not just call his number on their regular cell phones?

Last month, FBI Special Agent Chad Fitzgerald testified that Dzhokhar, or at least the phone registered under the name “Jahar Tsarni,” placed an 88-second call to someone at a number in the 617 (Boston) area code. This number traces back to Vakhabov. It was the first call Dzhokhar made on this burner cell phone since the day of the bombings. And, according to phone records released in court, Vakhabov’s number is the only one Dzhokhar called on this phone (other than his brother Tamerlan) since he opened the account on April 14.

4

*857-928-4634 is Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s cell phone

Vakhabov has registered numerous websites to the address of 26 Park Vale Avenue, Allston, which is more or less a five-minute walk from the spot where Tamerlan allegedly carjacked Dun Meng’s Mercedes at 60 Brighton Avenue.

Given his proximity in time and location to the Brighton Avenue carjacking, could Vakhabov know more about the brothers’ plans or in some other way be connected?

Despite the wave of arrests, brutal profiling, and harsh crackdown on Tsarnaevs’ former friends for the slightest infraction in the FBI’s Boston bombing investigation, the government decided to let Vakhabov go. It also heavily objected to admitting his 302 FBI interview report into evidence at Tsarnaev’s trial, despite the fact that this report contains statements of “great import,” according to the government itself. Why?

Vakhabov remains free, and the government has acted to keep his “self-incriminating” statements to the FBI from being admitted into evidence at court. This kid-glove treatment is in sharp contrast to the way the feds have treated Khairullozhon Matanov and Robel Phillipos, two former friends of the Tsarnaev brothers who have been charged with lying during a terrorism investigation.

Matanov allegedly called the Tsarnaevs 40 minutes after the bombing, and invited them to dinner. He initially lied to the FBI about the fact that he had driven the Tsarnaevs to dinner, downplayed the extent to which he shared a similar philosophical justification for jihad as the suspected bombers, and deleted his computer history during the week of the bombing, according to his indictment. Downplaying one’s religious and philosophical views does not violate any laws; indeed, it’s a First Amendment right. Through these actions, the government claims Matanov intentionally misled investigators and destroyed evidence. But was Matanov’s computer history as important to the Boston bombing investigation as Vakhabov’s misleading statements to the FBI?

Where are the witnesses? 

Other potentially important witnesses seem to have vanished from public view. One is the man who attended the Wai Kru gym with the brothers three days before the attack. He is now identified as Magomed Dolakov. After meeting Tamerlan Tsarnaev at a mosque in August 2012, one month after the elder Tsarnaev returned from a six-month trip to Russia, Dolakov regularly discussed radical Islam with him. Is this not a matter of great import?

Tsarnaev’s defense had hoped to utilize Dolakov’s 302 report, but it too is unavailable, according to the court trial transcript. Neither the government nor the defense can locate Dolakov, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense attorney Miriam Conrad told the court.

Given the extensive surveillance and even harassment of the Tsarnaevs’ former friends and associates by the the FBI, the inability of the government to learn Dolakov’s whereabouts is striking. Investigators used a single spy drone to monitor Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s friend Khairullozhon Matanov at his home in the Boston suburb of Quincy for over a year after the bombing. This surveillance led to his arrest in May 2014, and to his guilty plea to the charge of making false statements in a federal terrorism investigation. Clearly, the authorities have the surveillance resources to locate Dolakov, if they wanted to. So why the hands-off treatment? If Dolakov had any prior knowledge of the marathon attacks from his regular discussions about jihad with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, why would the FBI not be interested in him? Could he have been an informant for the FBI? Given that Dolakov met Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the mosque right after his return from six months in Russia, odds say it’s possible.

Is the government really unable to locate these witnesses? Are they under any sort of protection? If yes, from whom, and for what purpose?

Who is the third friend?

Dolakov reportedly told the FBI that he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev hung out with an unnamed third friend and discussed topics relating to Islamic terrorism.

In August 2012, according to Boston.com, “Dolakov said he and Tamerlan went to a Quincy mosque together, after which they relaxed on a nearby beach with a third friend and discussed a recent suicide bombing.”

Khairullozhon Matanov lived and worked in Quincy. Could he be that unnamed “third friend”? If yes, what could he know about the relationship between Magomed Dolakov and Tamerlan Tsarnaev? Why did the FBI monitor Khairullozhon for over a year after the bombings before arresting him? Were they afraid Matanov would blow the whistle on matters of great import?

“The FBI is trying to destroy my life,” Matanov wrote to the Daily Beast last fall.

Historically, the FBI has targeted Muslim immigrants like Matanov to recruit informants. Refusing such recruitment is often a choiceless choice, with some recorded instances of the FBI torturing those who refuse.

After refusing to wear a wire for the FBI to speak with a former friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, another Chechen friend of Tamerlan, Konstantin Morozov, was detained. Morozov told the Boston Globe that the FBI offered to accept his application for political asylum if he cooperated.

Crackdown on Tsarnaevs Friends

Despite the official narrative adamantly claiming that the Tsarnaevs were lone wolves, the specifics of the FBI’s investigation show evidence to the contrary. There have been eight reported instances in which the Tsarnaevs’ friends and associates have faced charges for allegedly helping the brothers and misleading the FBI in its investigation.

Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov were charged in May 2013 with obstruction of justice and conspiracy after Kadyrbayev allegedly removed from the younger Tsarnaev’s dorm room and threw away a Jansport backpack that had shortly before been emptied of illegal fireworks. But, Assistant US Attorney B. Stephanie Siegmann said neither of the friends’ DNA was found on it.

Dzhokhar’s friend Phillipos denied knowledge that Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov had removed the Jansport backpack from Tsarnaev’s UMass Dartmouth dorm room. Phillipos now faces up for 16 years in prison for these statements to the FBI.

If Vakhabov lied to the FBI about matters material to the investigation, why does the government refuse to prosecute him, while expending great time, effort and expense to imprison all these other men on what appear to be petty matters?

Correction: An earlier version of this article was incorrectly edited to include an erroneous reference to an additional call to Mr. Vakhabov. In fact, Tamerlan Tsarnaev called Vakhabov only once (using Dzhokhar’s phone)—on April 18.

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33 responses to “Boston Bombing Core Mystery: Why are Feds Not Interested in this Man?”

  1. […]  Was anyone else involved in planning or inspiring the […]

  2. […]  Was anyone else involved in planning or inspiring the […]

  3. […]  Was anyone else involved in planning or inspiring the […]

  4. Hans Cristian Trujillo says:

    Well, in my opinion. I have reviewed the evidence and find Tsarnaev not guity and do not condemn him to death.

    Signed,
    Judge Hans Trujillo.

    Ht

  5. gseattle says:

    Several points were news to me.

    The only way we can understand perception-managed events is to realize that the real movers behind them are driven by a vision of the future that they see as good for the majority, healthy despite some pain / collateral damage, protecting us so we can pursue happiness while blissfully unaware. They wake up looking forward to improving the world today. Have to start there.

    They do not believe they can openly address the public on the astounding rate at which muslims are succeeding in their plan to conquer the planet. They cannot but skirtingly criticize islam without also offending christianity. Yet that’s the only real way to pull the magic flying carpet out from under islam, by attacking its ridiculous underlying principles, such as hell, and replacing them with something, like, say, we all live multiple lives so get a clue already.

    They believe in operating in the dark and simply greasing the way toward exposure of its true evil nature, and as a result we are losing, when the only real solution is exposure to the light. Muslims are thoroughly raised to believe in deception, so are our agents. It only works to a limited degree, not long-term. Deception cannot bring the fine world you visualize, gentlemen.

  6. oh_look says:

    If there was a chance in attracting some powerful voices for Jahar, do you think he would actually be in more imminent danger? I don’t want to be negative, but I have to admit it’s crossed my mind that any help for this man would only spook the Spooks, and who knows what they would do.
    But to do nothing is worse.
    Where’s all the brave hearts? Those 2 FBI guys that “fell out of a helicopter” and who happened to be on the same Squad that were at the Boat arrest, is pretty “coincidental”, don’t you think? If they were knocked off, it sends a pretty clear message to the rest of the team. And if so, we are truly living in a Mafia-run world.

    • Happyfeeling says:

      Is this petition still a go. He has been given the death penalty. I though Sars had to do with Life in prison.

  7. Y_Mark_Y says:

    These questions are for all your investigative team working on this case and it is a point of general interest. How difficult would it be to find out who in particular cultivated this belief in Tamerlan that he could be on the Olympic boxing team? Was it even logistically possible at the time he was in training? If this was a possibility, do we know when the rules had been changed for non-citizens in relation to the bombing? The point of the questions is whether his advancing in his boxing career could be used as a blackmail device.

    • russbaker says:

      Good questions. Feel free to get in touch with us info@whowhatwhy.org

    • Y_Mark_Y says:

      Thanks. I thought, I have. Aren’t you whowhatwhy.org? Thanks for a great job, btw!

    • Rafaela says:

      Mr. Baker,

      Wanted to ask some questions as an aspiring journalist.

      If he was an FBI Informant, what would this mean for the city of Boston? The FBI? How would it affect the pre-existing narrative of the bombing?

      Also, if you`re a journalist, how would you go about covering that? Editorial-wise, how do you report on a cover-up of this magnitude?

    • KevinChamberlin says:

      Tamerlan Tsarnaev fought in National Golden Gloves in May, 2009. He lost what was said to have been a close decision. Tsarnaev was reported to be eager to train and to fight in the nationals in 2010.His goal was to be the US Golden Gloves heavyweight champion as a Muslim.. In 2010, there was a decision to not allow non American citizens to fight. In 2010, Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to Russia for the first of two trips prior to 2013 Boston bombing. This was a excellent opportunity for federal agents to work Tsarnaev as an informer or asset.

    • Y_Mark_Y says:

      Interesting. Thanks. Do you come across anybody else who was a non-citizen and who was prohibited from contending for national teams? Or we may assume that this 2010 decision was directed against Tamerlan specifically, maybe, as a punishment for his non-cooperation. Then his radicalization might have started as a rejection (revenge?) reaction to attempts to blackmail him. Or his radicalization path could have been a part of the plot for his infiltration and becoming an asset. I guess, all this requires a very careful research. This line of research may bring us to an answer to the most puzzling question of the trial, “Why was Dzhokhar silent? Why didn’t he at least try to mitigate the threat to his life and loss of liberty? One possible answer is that speaking up he would have exposed his older brother as a patsy betraying his honor, which is unthinkable for a Chechen character.

    • QuestionsRemain says:

      I did read somewhere that subsequent to the rule change a non-citizen was discovered to have been allowed to compete, I recall that this particular boxer may have been from Africa, however, I don’t rememver for sure where he was originally from or what his name was.

    • Maret says:

      This is not true, that Tamerlan in 2010 went to Russia for the first of two trips prior to 2013 Boston bombing. Tamerlan’s first and the only trip to Russia for the period from July 2003 till January 2012 (the whole time he lived in the States, since he arrived there in July 21, 2003) was made in January 2012. Tamerlan stayed in Russia from January 21, 2012 till July 17, 2012. Tamerlan never went to Georgia, while he was on his visit to Russia, as it was reported in media, as if he participated in some kind of training, sponsored by Jamestown Foundation.

  8. MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

    The shutdown of Boston may have been because the FBI felt it had to find and kill Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before he could talk. Then they used special measures and fear tactics on his lawyers and others to achieve the same thing.

  9. Happyfeeling says:

    Another interesting figure. I have emailed Whowhatwhynow and Truth Dig. Anyone who will listen. Who is this Daniel Morley guy. Google and read about him. In June they found his apartment with all the Boston Bomb material. He is now locked in a psychiatric facility in Massachusetts..There is no transparency about this guy. He also was on the MIT campus at the time of the bombing. When he was arrested he said only god can forgive me. He also looks like the guy who robbed the 7/11 the night the Tamerlan and his brother were on the run. You know a lot of money was paid out in regards to this incident. Boston Strong provided for all the victims. What can the FEDS say now. Whoops! I made a mistake. Ain’t going to happen. They think that kids life is worth nothing. Anyone setting this kid up I hope has to answer to a higher power. Will Whowhatwhynow respond if they heard of this guy.

    • JayGoldenBeach says:

      Good point, mate.

      Kirk Merricks, a Boston police officer, was arrested July 11, 2013, for allegedly possessing a small collection of stolen military-grade explosives in his residence. He is a black male who frequently sports a black cowboy-style hat in public. Interestingly, a black male wearing a cowboy-style hat was reported to have been seen in the vicinity of the slain MIT police officer.

  10. QuestionsRemain says:

    I just recently noticed/read that Boston journalist Susan Zalkind who has covered the marathon bombing and whose family (possibly her brother) was friends with at least one of the 3 guys murdered in Waltham….that Zalkind’s father, who is a criminal defense Atty. in Boston, represented people involved with the former Care International in Boston when they were charged with raising money that funded terrorist activities.

    • Barbara Henninger says:

      Susan Zalkind was good friends with Eric Weismann, one of the Waltham victims. Her father, Norman Zalkind, was Eric’s attorney, and represented him in his legal trouble involving drug dealing.

    • óíštablezA says:

      She is also one of Viskhan Valkhabov’s 47 friends on Facebook.

  11. MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

    If Viskhan Vakhabov had testified in court, Dzhokhar would have realized he was the patsy and was taking the fall for someone who had been an FBI informant the whole time. The DOJ couldn’t let that happen.

    The special administrative measures to keep Dzhokhar in the dark are to prevent him realizing that and spilling the beans. That would then expose the Boston Bombing and likely shooting of the MIT officer as an FBI plan.

    DOJ also has to keep his lawyers and family telling him the truth. They have kept his lawyers scared. This is denial of due process of law.

  12. MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

    An interesting question is whether Russia had an information feed out of this situation and was able to play off it or even tip the ball.

  13. MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

    Brilliant article. This pulls it together. Based on this, the public can adopt the short hand summary of Boston Marathon Bombing as an FBI plot, presumably gone wrong.

    The FBI and DOJ covered it up. All these prosecutions and actions were obstruction of justice by the FBI agents and prosecutors involved. All of them can be charged as accessories to the Boston Bombing.

    If they had admitted they lost control, they would not face criminal liability, perhaps. But by proceeding as they have, they have engaged in a serious conspiracy. That is under both federal law and the laws of several states.

    • Happyfeeling says:

      The FBI and DOJ are enjoying there power. Who is going to prosecute them?

    • oh_look says:

      The system was built to check itself (each branch of gov) but something has obviously failed.

    • Happyfeeling says:

      Yes failed it has. Somehow the voices of the citizens have to be heard. Each branch of the government is ignoring its citizens. However from what I see our voices are very low. Until everyone starts speaking can change be made. I believe with this subject and more.

    • MarkTenneyNewMathDoneRight says:

      There should be a committee of state attorney generals who have the power to investigate and prosecute the FBI and DOJ.

    • Happyfeeling says:

      I don’t agree. Eric Holder was the Attorney General who insisted on the death penalty. I read somewhere the congress wanted to impeach him but he held out just for this case and then resigned. I don’t know if we need another layer of dishonest people. I think all the laws are already on the books and our leaders should enforce them. This would be a good case to investigate and punish. I have read these agencies are disrespectful to Congress even. They are rogue. It is the people that have to insist our media bring all to light and the people should scream to prosecute. Remember the million man march on Washington. That is what it will take. Americans have become lazy and our minds have shrunk. haha!

    • JayGoldenBeach says:

      “Americans have become lazy…”

      Also docile.

      We arouse ourselves with noble-sounding words, e.g., ‘liberty,’ ‘freedom,’ while ignoring the prinicples such words imply.

    • Happyfeeling says:

      I could have not of said it better myself. Thanks