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May 16. 2013 1:05PM

FBI questions former Chechen rebel living in Manchester about repeated meetings with Boston bomber

MANCHESTER - Boston Marathon suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev went target shooting at a Manchester firing range and met up with an exiled former Chechen rebel living in the Queen City a month before the attack that killed three and wounded more than 260, according to a Voice of America report.
 
FBI agents on Tuesday searched the Manchester home of Chechnya native Musa Khadzhimuratov, and examined the hard drives on his computers, VOA reported. Police in Manchester confirmed the FBI agents searched Khadzhimuratov's home, according to the story, but Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara said police will not confirm anything because it is not their case.
 
The FBI, Mara said, also are not commenting on the matter.
 
At the Manchester apartment building where Khadzhimuratov lives, a woman responding to the buzzer by intercom said Khadzhimuratov was not home and will not be talking to reporters.
A resident who lives at the Eastern Avenue apartment complex said the FBI showed up about 8 a.m. Tuesday and did not leave until late in the afternoon.
 
Agents dressed in suits were posted at the front and back entrance to the Eastern Avenue apartment building at Hillview Apartments, preventing people from entering the building, she said.
 
About six other agents wearing white jumpsuits and black gloves entered the apartment where Khadzhimuratov lives with his wife, her parents and two or three children.
 
"I thought they were exterminators," said the resident. She only realized they were FBI after someone overheard an agent telling one of Khadzhimuratov's children, "Don't get scared. We're FBI and we're going to talk to your father."
 
The Khadzhimuratovs keep to themselves, the resident said, and do no socialize with other tenants. She thought his wife works but does not believe Khadzhimuratov is employed. He is paralyzed from being shot in the back in his native Chechnya.
 
Khadzhimuratov told a VOA reporter that FBI agents went to his home Tuesday with search warrants and took DNA sample and his fingerprints.
 
He said he repeatedly met with Tsarnaev over the past several years and that the FBI first questioned him on April 29, two weeks after the deadly attack. Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police while his brother, Dzhokhar, 19, was wounded and later captured.
 
Khadzhimuratov told the VOA reporter FBI agents asked him about Tsarnaev's target shooting at a Manchester firing range, which was linked to http://www.gunsnh.com/index.php – the home page for the Manchester Firing Line Range.
 
Cliff Ellston, compliance officer for the firing range, said it is the company's policy not to talk to the media.
 
The FBI also wanted to know about Tsarnaev's purchase of large amounts of fireworks from a Seabrook store on Feb. 6, Khadzhimuratov told VOA.
 
He said Tsarnaev visited him about three to four weeks before the bombings. He said he thinks the FBI believes he tried to help him when he was up in New Hampshire but he denied doing that or having any involvement in the bombings.
 
The FBI, he said, told him he was not a suspect in the Boston bombing case.
 
He said he came to the United States from Chechnya in 2004 through a United Nations program. He is paralyzed from the waist down from gunshot wounds suffered in Chechnya in 2001, according to the VOA article.
 
He said he first met Tsarnaev seven years ago at the annual meeting of the Chechen Society of Boston. Tsarnaev visited him three times in Manchester and once came with his wife and child.
 
He told VOA he never discussed Tsarnaev's Islam beliefs with him or any politics.



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