KISSIMMEE, Fla. - So far, there is nothing suggesting Ibragim Todashev was involved in the Boston bombings, but when Channel 9’s Christopher Heath asked whether he had ties to Chechen rebels, officials said that information was classified.
Todashev arrived in the United States from Russia on a student visa in 2008 and had since spent a lot of time training in mixed martial arts.
Todashev’s wife, Reniya Manukyan, talked with Channel 9 on Wednesday and said it was a common ancestry, roots in Chechneya, plus the MMA training that put her husband in contact with Boston bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
But Manukyan was adamant Todashev had nothing to do with any crimes in Massachusetts, despite officials saying he was going to sign a confession in connection with a triple-homicide near Boston in 2011 that may have also involved Tsarnaev.
"He expected that they were going to come and question him, because they both come from the same place from Chechnya," Manukyan said.
Manukyan said she met Todashev in Boston and that he knew Tsarnaev from there time there. Manukyan said she and Todashev then moved to Atlanta in 2010 and then Orlando in late 2011.
Manukyan said Todashev went back to Boston for several weeks in 2011 and had limited contact with Tsarnaev.
"They had a chat because they were from the same country," she said. "It was a small community. They all knew each other."
Manukyan said Tsarnaev even called her husband this year following a fighting injury, a call that came weeks before the deadly Boston bombing.
"I believe Tamerlan called him and asked him how he was doing after the surgery," she said.
Manukyan said she and her husband have been separated since November, but she spoke with him on Tuesday, saying he had suddenly changed his plans to return to Chechnya and that he was expecting to talk to the FBI some more.
"He said they were coming by and interviewing him and stuff," she said.
Manukyan also said she, too, has been questioned by the FBI.
WFTV.com will have continuing updates and instant breaking details on Eyewitness News.