Sunday, July 28, 2013

My hypothesis as to why three FBI agents ended up murdering Ibragim Todashev

RT TV is getting better and better, mostly thanks to the truly excellent reporters they hire. And no, I don't mean Larry King (Larry King Now), though hiring him was a nice PR coup, but rather folks like Peter Lavelle (Cross Talk) and Abby Martin (Breaking the Set) who talk to the right people and ask the right questions. This time, I want to draw your attention to a most interesting interview of Reni Manukian, the wife of Ibragim Todashev, the Chechen young man recently murdered by three FBI agents in Orlando Florida (usually I would put a link to the Wikipedia article about Todashev here, but in this case the article is so full of lies and crude propaganda that I will use the "least bad" English source I could find, the Orlando Sentinel).  First, listen to that most interesting interview:

Amazing, no?  There are all the signs of a (botched!) cover-up and practically nobody cares (except the ACLU).  Why?  Is it because it is "well-known" that "all Chechens are terrorists"?

In fact, the case of the Tsarnaev brothers and Todashev could not be more different.  If the Tsarnaev brother had, indeed, been flagged by the Russian security services as linked to Islamist terrorist groups, the Todashev family is well-known in Grozny and several of its members are public officials.  In fact, the Todashev family was anything but linked to any terrorist groups.  So what happened?

Here is my personal guess:

Both the Tsarnaev brothers and Todashev were involved in mixed martial arts.  For Chechens, this is about as original, as playing basket-ball for Americans.  This is not some sign of  some "aggressive disposition" or an indicator that one is about to become a terrorist.  The Caucasus has a long and proud tradition of marital arts (mostly wrestling, but also Russian Sambo) and training in an MMA gym is basically a manly way to say fit.

It appears that Todashev met Tsarnaev at a gym in Boston and that the two became not friends, but acquaintances.  Again, this is hardly surprising, MMA fighters are mostly friendly people and two exiled Chechens would easily spot each other and exchange a few nice words.  I would argue that the fact that Todashev and Tsarnaev clearly came from two opposite sides of the Chechen ideological divide would indicate that they probably never had any serious conversations, much less so about politics.

Then there are the accusations that Todashev was a violent character because in a road-rage incident he was heard screaming "'You say something about my mother, I will kill you!'" and because he got into a fight with two men over a parking space.

Reni Manukian and Ibragim Todashev before their marriage
Let me break you the news: you do not tell any man from the Caucasus that he is a "motherfucker", that *can* get you killed.  This does not at all mean that the Caucasian men is particularly violent, it just means that for the people of the Caucasus mothers and motherhood are sacred. Of course, in a society where nothing at all is sacred, the very concept of "sacred" is hard to comprehend.  As for the second incident, it just goes to show that a Chechen young man will not hesitate to fight against two other guys.  So what?!  These are *Chechens* for heaven's sake!  Not only to they take some insults very seriously, they also consider it an absolute dishonor to run away even if the other side has the advantage in numbers.  In my opinion, these incidents show nothing besides maybe a lack of cultural understanding on the part of Todashev: somebody should have explained to him that Americans can spend 20 minutes screaming "fuck you motherfucker!!" at each other - practically nose to nose - without exchanging a single blow.

So what happened with the FBI agents?

I suspect something similar.  The agents probably showed up full of themselves, aggressive, filled to the brim with unspent testosterone.  It is most likely that these boneheads believed that "Chechens are terrorists" and that they did not like Todashev one bit.  Why?  Because being a Chechen Todashev probably did not show them the typical submissive and demure attitude these FBI agents are used to get from their compatriots.  He probably denied knowing anything and when they "put on the pressure" as they are used to, he probably showed them a great deal of disrespect.  At which point one of the agents apparently decided to punch him which, instead of terrifying Todashev, probably resulted in him immediately striking back after which the terrified FBI agents all pulled their guns and shot Todashev in a mix of terror and outrage at his insubordination.

What about Todashev's knee?  Could he have punched an FBI agent even though he was absolutely sure that with his sick knee he would never overpower three FBI agents?  Of course!  The condition of his knee does prove that his body was no "deadly weapon" but it most definitely does not prove that Todashev would not fight back if punched.  Again, this guy is Chechen and it is very much in the Chechen national culture and ethos not to accept violence or abuse without fighting back.  A man's honor means much more to them than the consequences of getting beat up or even killed.

I see no signs of a big mystery or conspiracy around Todashev's death.  What we have is an example of what happens when poorly educated and boneheaded FBI thugs are trusted with a mission requiring not machismo or intimidation, but a basic understanding of the culture of the subject to be interviewed.  All the rest is just a typical case of American SNAFU/FUBAR featuring a clumsy cover-up and a constantly changing official narrative.

This is still an absolutely unacceptable outrage: an innocent man was murdered by FBI officials because of his ethnicity and their lack of culture.  Even if every single word I have written above is 100% wrong, the fact remains that the official narrative admits that three (or more?) specially trained FBI agents for the Counter-Terrorism division could not handle a single limping young man and had to shoot him seven times to subdue him.  This is absolutely and self-evidently ridiculous.   I am happy to see that the mostly "sleepy" ACLU has finally decided to take on this case and demand some answers.  Let's just hope that the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will have the staying power to demand a full investigation and that they will not be bullied by Uncle Sam into giving up.

The Saker