CAIR says interrogation of associate of Todashev without lawyer warrants investigation

09/25/13 Seán Kinane
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Hassan Shibly, attorney and executive director of CAIR-FL in Tampa.

photo by Seán Kinane

There are more developments Wednesday in the case of a Chechen immigrant who was shot and killed by an FBI agent earlier this year in Orlando.

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate what they are calling a “pattern of ‘egregious’ civil rights violations and abuse by the FBI targeting associates of Ibragim Todashev.”

This comes after one of his friends, Ashur Miraliev, was detained and questioned and not given access to a lawyer.

WMNF interviewed Hassan Shibly, an attorney and executive director of CAIR-Florida in Tampa.

"Ibrahim Todashev was shot and killed in his home by an FBI agent after over 4 or 5 hours of interrogation in his house. He was shot over 7 times while he was unarmed with the final bullet ultimately being in the top of his head."

And there's been questions about what happened during that interrogation and why he was killed. The FBI originally said that they felt that they were in danger but what is the status of what people think actually happened?

"Well it's been months and nobody really knows exactly what happened because the FBI has not released all of the information it has. Initially they said that he was armed, and then they kept contradicting themselves. Ultimately we found out that really he wasn't armed when he was shot and killed. So that raised a lot of questions as to why he was killed and what could have been done differently to avoid his death. After a lot of pressure we finally got commitments from the State Attorney's office and the federal prosecutor's office to conduct investigations to see if there were any criminal violations of Ibrahim's civil rights and to really shed light as to why a Florida resident was shot and killed in his own home after 5 hours of interrogation by an officer. We've learned a lot of interesting facts about his killing. We've learned that, for example, all of the bullets came from one officer, that only one officer drew his weapon which really shows that the killing maybe was unnecessary. Law enforcement officers are trained that if a shooting is warranted they all draw their weapons. The fact that only one officer drew his weapon while the others stood there wondering what's going on has raised a lot of questions and concerns. It also looks like he was shot while he was either on the ground or while he was falling to the ground. Several experts reviewed the photographs of his body with all of the bullet wounds and said it looks like he was killed or shot while he was on the ground and furthermore his body laid dead right at the corridor of his exit so it seems like he was trying to leave the interrogation. Now, in light of what we've discovered within the past week this raises even more serious questions because now we're learning that the FBI is actually going on to harass and intimidate and grossly violate the civil rights of those individuals around Ibrahim, those individuals who have spoken out since Ibrahim's killing."

You mentioned this arrest, who was arrested? I think it was a friend of Ibrahim Todashev's was arrested in the last week or so. How was he treated and why was he arrested?

"The arrest of Ibrahim's friend, Mr. Ashurmamad (Miraliev) really, really, raised a lot of questions, in fact a lot of concerns because based on the arrest it appears that the FBI just egregiously violating the civil rights and just completely disregarding the Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment and that's really concerning. Unfortunately it appears that they've gotten out of control with complete disregard to the constitutional liberties that make America such a wonderful nation. Mr. Assur was arrested last week on the 18th of September. When he was arrested we immediately reached out to the US Attorney's office and the FBI, 'we need to speak to our client, we want to know where our client is' and 'we are formally requesting on behalf of our client that you not speak to him without our presence there as his council, as his attorneys.' For days we could not even locate our client. For days the FBI wouldn't even confirm that they had him or where he was. Just yesterday, on the 24th, several days later we were finally able to meet with our client, Mr. Assur, what we learned was very shocking. Apparently they interrogated him for over 6 hours and throughout that period he was asking for his attorneys. 'I want my attorneys here, I don't want to speak to you without my attorneys' and they just completely ignored him, they said 'that's not happening' and for us that's unacceptable, that's Un-American, frankly that's illegal. According to the US Constitution, according to the Bill of Rights you cannot question or interrogate an individual once he's made a request for his attorney until you've contacted that person's attorney. The fact that 1) they did not get in touch with us, they did not let him speak to his attorneys and 2) they continued to question him even after he requested his attorneys is just blatant violations of his civil rights. It makes us wonder if they were blatantly violating Assur's civil rights during his questioning what kind of violations occurred against Ibrahim before he was killed?"

Was this gentleman, Mr. Assur, was he charged with any crime?

"Eventually he was charged with a completely unrelated crime so what happens, for those six hours, he wasn't being asked about any alleged involvement, any crime, he was simply being asked about Ibrahim Todashev. The FBI used that as an opportunity to get as much dirt about Ibrahim Todashev as they can, the man whom they killed. It appears that they are acting very frantically trying to cover their tracks and trying to paint a bad picture of Ibrahim and therefore arresting one of his close friends. Remember Assur was the individual who took Ibrahim's father, Abdulbaki around town once Abdulbaki came in, he took him to all of the meetings at the state attorney's office, the prosecutor's office, he took him to meetings, so he was very helpful to the Todashev family after Ibrahim was killed so it appears that it was two-fold, 1) retaliatory and 2) it appears that they were trying to get dirt on Ibrahim and I think that's a sign of desperation because for us it doesn't matter, was Ibrahim a good guy or a bad guy it doesn't matter. All that matters is why was he shot and killed and how could these things have been prevented. So the fact that they questioned him for over 6 hours on Ibrahim Todashev, not on any alleged crime and then ignored his repeated requests for an attorney raises a lot of concerns for us."

What's the status of any investigation? The Department of Justice did a probe into the killing of Todashev, is the US Attorney looking into it as well?

"So both the Department of Justice and the State Attorney's office are both conducting their own independent investigation into what happened. Looking into whether several laws were violated including whether there was a criminal violation of Ibrahim Todashev's civil rights, also whether there was a violation of the use of force policy and whether there was a violation of deadly force under Florida law as well. We're still waiting on those results. At this point we don't even have the medical examiner's report and I don't think that will be released until their investigation is complete. Meanwhile CAIR-Florida, we've conducted our own independent investigation which is about to light a lot of troubling things but we're waiting to release that investigation until we can confirm many of the facts there and we can't confirm them until we have the evidence that's within the control of the FBI and the prosecutor's office at this time. One thing I want to add that's very disturbing is look, this is not the first time the FBI has been caught intimidating people associated with Ibrahim Todashev. This has been happening since the day he was killed. We have very troubling evidence of how they confronted family members of Ibrahim, saying 'We want to be the first to let you know we killed Ibrahim and you're going to spend the rest of your life in jail unless you tell us everything you know about him.' Very egregious conduct and not only that, there's Ibrahim's mother-in-law, the FBI opened an investigation against her once she appeared at the first press conference to speak out against the killing of her son. Tatiana, his former girlfriend, was also faced threats by the FBI and, in fact, we have an FBI agent named agent Hanson who several people have come to us and said 'look, agent Hanson came to us in Orlando, this is an FBI agent, and claims to have been an FBI immigration agent' and there's no such thing as an FBI immigration agent. The agency itself will confirm that. And he goes to these individuals and he says 'look, you have two options, right? You can spy for us, you can tell us everything you know about Ibrahim, and you can spy on your local mosques, spy on the local house worship, spy on local Muslim restaurants, and if you don't spy on them for us, we're going to throw you all in jail.' We believe that this is maybe what happened to Assur, that they made these kinds of threats against him and when he didn't give in to these kinds of illegal and unethical threats they fulfilled their promise. It's very concerning. Look, this should concern all of us, not just the Chechen community, not just the Muslim community, but all Americans. When the FBI is going around blatantly violating the civil rights of lawful residents in this country we really need to be on guard and hold them accountable."

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Was Ibragim Todashev under arrest when he was killed? If not, why wasn't he free to leave the apartment? I read that there were one or maybe two LE outside the front door.

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