The Strange Case of Khairullozhon Matanov: Conviction By A Witting Media

(3) zhonFriday last, at about 5:00 a.m., one neighbor of Khairullozhon Matanov saw  at least “three black SUVs with tinted windows and several FBI agents with body armor and guns”.  Another saw: “a black SUV and a white van and a SWAT team member.”  They busted into a basement apartment occupied by Matanov according to the pictures shown over and over again on television of a door with a busted lock.

As this group of heavily armed cops entered into the building where Matanov lived they would have had to march past a Checker Cab parked in the parking lot of the building. Matanov was a cab driver. Other cab drivers in the area who knew him liked him and had nothing but good words to say about him. One described him as “One of the nicest guys I’ve  ever met.” If you know anything you got to know that cabbies are the salt of the earth and they better than most people have great insight into another’s character.

In a more normal or civilized society all these law enforcement officers could have got up at their regular hour rather than gathering at the ungodly hour of four in the morning to assemble and prepare for this raid. You see if the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston maintained proper control over the FBI and other police agencies, they would have insisted that two Quincy cops, or perhaps two FBI agents or U.S. Marshalls, wait until Matanov walked out of his apartment to get into his car and then arrested him quietly and brought him to court.

Matanov was indicted sometime before Friday morning when the indictment was unsealed. An arrest warrant had issued for him. He was not a danger to anyone; in fact, the charges against him were a year old. For over that year he had been coming and going to his job and leading an open life that made him amenable to be arrested at any time.

So what was the purpose of the outrageous assault on his apartment? In part it was to give the cops a feeling of power – knocking down a door and rushing in clad in full body armor to point their guns at and to brute-like toss this 23-year-old lad from his bed onto the floor; the other part was to gin up lots of publicity which the local media like a starving blue fish swallows without question, hook, line and sinker. It also may be the FBI’s need for publicity to offset some of the not so good news about it lately. I guess it’s better than recycling the Gardner Museum heist story.

I first heard of it when I saw a headline: Khairullozhon Matanov Arrested.” When I saw it I wondered “who’s that?” thinking some big deal had just been nabbed. I happened to be near a television so I turned it on. Two people were talking as a picture of the federal courthouse in Boston was being shown from a helicopter circling endlessly over it. The talking heads had already convicted Matanov. Yet, there was nothing to see. The federals don’t believe in letting the public see what they do in their courtrooms. So much for transparency. Television being a visual medium, the best anyone could come up with was the video of courthouse showing absolutely nothing.

The television announcers kept quoting from the indictment. I changed to three other local stations and the same thing was happening. If the U.S. Attorney wanted publicity, she certainly got it full blast in the Boston media. Nationally it was ignored which probably should have been done by the local media because the whole case is much ado about nothing. In fact, it’s a travesty of justice.

Matonov’s crime is two fold according to the indictment: he apparently destroyed evidence after he knew the FBI might be interested in it; and, he gave some answers to FBI agents, or some other cops, that weren’t truthful. But all of this related to the investigation of him, not the Tsarnaevs. Matonov was exercising his right not to incriminate himself.

We learn from the indictment the investigation of the Marathon Terrorist Attack was led by the FBI and they published photographs of the Tsarnaevs at 5:15 pm on 4/18/2015 and 2:00 am on 4/19/2005. It is alleged Matonov knew the FBI was doing the investigation and that it would want to discuss with him the contact he had with the Tsarnaevs following the bombing and the “views he held relative to terrorism.”

Then we hear Matonov lied to two or three witnesses about what he knew. He then went to the Braintree police and denied seeing the photographs the FBI published and lied about where Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife and daughter lived.  Matonov then deleted things from his computer on the 19th which the FBI restored having seized his computer on the 20th.  The deleted matter contained “violent content or calls to violence.”

The indictment alleges his deletion “obstructed the FBI’s determination of his Internet activity” and “the extent to which he shared the suspected bombers’ philosophical justification for violence, among other topics of interest.” Who are they investigating?

The indictment says Matonov lied to the FBI saying he met the Tsarnaevs by accident at a restaurant when in fact he made plans to meet them there; also he lied about when he first suspected the Tsarnaevs were the bombers saying different things at interviews with the FBI on April 20, April 24, May 3, May 31, and July 8.

Matonov faces 20 years in prison for the destruction of his violent videos; and he faces 8 years for three separate things he lied about. Matanov is not alleged to have anything to do with the Marathon Terrorist Attack. Apparently he’s been investigated for over a year because his connection with the Tsarnaev’s including continual surveillance and the use of drones. He has done nothing during that year that close to being criminal.

The problem with the whole case which the U.S. Attorney seems to miss is that Matonov did nothing to interfere with the FBI’s investigation of the bombing. He knew nothing about it. All he did was try to distance himself from the Tsarnaevs thinking that his close connection with them would get him into trouble.

If you know nothing about the crime being investigated you can’t obstruct it. Matonov is not alleged to know anything about it. There’s no duty in America to go out of your way to help investigators or to disclose what you think of things. If you want to hide your personal views about terrorism, that is not a crime nor does it have anything to do with the FBI’s investigation.

Matonov cooperated with the FBI, it had his computer, he was interviewed at least five times. The FBI cut and sliced his statements to make a case against him when there is none. The U.S. Attorney should have never indicted him. Nor should she have hyped up the case with the early morning SWAT assault which prejudices his right to a fair trial.

There is something awfully wrong with this case. It doesn’t smell right. But you’ll never read about it because this is Boston where most, fortunately not all, of the media unquestioning scrapes and bows before the U.S. Attorney and the FBI.

22 thoughts on “The Strange Case of Khairullozhon Matanov: Conviction By A Witting Media

  1. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each
    time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Appreciate it!

  2. Anyone have any idea what ever came of the cabbie(s) taken into custody after their cab was stopped the morning of 4/19/13 at the corner of 20 Charlesgate West and the 400 block of Commonwealth Ave. in Kenmore Square – this block on Comm. Ave. between Charlesgate West and Kenmore St. was locked down with guards posted at each end of the block, bomb sniffing dogs were brought through-out the block and a suspicious item was detonated. The cabbie or cabbies was/were taken away in an unmarked vehicle. This was briefly on the news but there was never any media follow up reported.

    1. Jan:

      I don’t remember the incident but keep in mind the mentality of our police forces is to over react. They like shutting down city blocks (or cities – remember the Shelter In proclamation) and driving their SWAT wagons and parading heavily armed through the streets and blowing up things – didn’t they blow up some media guy’s case when that poor soul went dancing through Copley Square dressed in a black veil –
      You will find little media follow up in Boston – it’s usually the arrest but what happens afterwards often disappears unless it can be sensationalized. The old Suffolk DA Garrett Byrne every four years before election day would have a big bookie raid that the papers would play up big, after the election no one would ever hear of what the result of the bookie’s cases was. Many were usually dismissed with a small fine.

  3. Matt, in an unrelated but similarly disturbing case, did you see the article about the baggage handlers at Logan that we re moving hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money through the airport?

    As I listened to Carmen Ortiz give her a press conference I heard the now infamous script that “these people were moving money that they BELIEVED was the proceeds of narcotics trafficking; these people were assisting drug dealers to poison our youth and contributing to the epidemic of death sweeping our state” or some such gobbledy gook.

    upon closer examination, it turns out that there was not a single dollar moved through Logan that was not given to these people by the government through their informant. Once again they have not interrupted and ongoing criminal conspiracy but lured minimum wage workers into committing a crime they otherwise wouldn’t have committed by offering money to participate in what they thought was an ongoing crime. Not outstanding behavior, certainly, but not at all how it was portrayed.

    I was vehemently opposed to these types of cases when I was involved in them, I am even more opposed to them now. Is there not enough real crime to be investigated? Unfortunately, ask someone you know today what was going on at the airport in almost to a person they will tell you that the government arrested a bunch of money laundering drug dealers at Logan. The US Attorney’s Office / Boston media conspiracy continues unabated!

    1. Declan:

      Good information. I didn’t pay any attention to that story and will have to go back and look at it. I guess that’s the type of case the federals like – minimal involvement in a crime instigated by a federal informant; the arrested person facing huge numbers in prison so he has to plead guilty and an easy conviction for the federals. I’ll never forget the two or three dopes in Florida who were led on by an FBI informant – they were planning to blow up the tallest building in Chicago even though none of them probably knew where Chicago was located – the informant brought them the explosives and when he gave it to them they were arrested as terrorists. I’m sure they all had to plead guilty.

      You are right about Ortiz, she makes some of the most outrageous comments which have nothing to do with the facts of the case. Tell me how baggage handlers processing drug money (assuming it was drug money) are poisoning the youth and contributing to the epidemic. If they weren’t there everything would still continue as it has and the dealers would still be making money; why is it that she doesn’t go after those people who are in fact doing what she alleged the baggage handlers are doing. If there is an epidemic then it is because the people who should be doing the job aren’t, not because money is being secreted.

  4. Thousands of people from Afghanistan, and, Pakistan share the Haqqani surname. Being a Haqqani means one belongs to a particular Pushtu tribe, not that, one is a terrorist, or, connected to terrorism in any way. People with the last name Haqqani, living in the United States, are members of the Pushtu diaspora, not, Taliban.

    1. However, like the father and son of the Haqqani terror network that share the same last name of Haqqani, some people with the same last name could in fact be related whatever the origin of the name might be. Of course it could be a name as ubiquitous as Smith or Jones, etc..

      1. Jan:

        Even when people are related it does not mean they share the same attitude as the others in their family.

    2. Khalid:

      A rose is still a rose by any other name. Even so, most roses have no family connections. Thanks for pointing out how common the Haqqani name is.

      1. Apparently the Haqqanis mentioned all hail from lines of influential rose beds, perhaps a dominant strain. Husain Haqqani’s reference to Whitey Bulger was almost comical, keeping in mind B.U. faculty have worked as writers/ghost writers on the Bulger saga to include Dick Lehr’s current movie production now underway in Boston.

        1. Jan:

          You may have summed it up with the “rose beds” but I wonder if it had anything to do with “rose bud.” As for the academics at BU they are best ignored since most of the time they inhabit a world of their own.

  5. I have a question not directly related to this incident but in the realm of the war on terror. The soldier just released, Bergdahl, was held captive by the Haqqani terror network, Haqqani being the name of the leaders of this network. Would be interesting to know whether or not the Haqqani family of this network is related to Husain Haqqani, a Boston University professor and the former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S.. Husain Haqqani is the man who was quoted as responding with an analogy of the FBI’s knowledge, or lack there-of regarding the whereabouts of Whitey Bulger over the years when questions arose regarding the Pakistani Intelligence when Bin Laden had been discovered living in Pakistan, in close proximity to the Pakistan Intelligence offices.

    1. Jan:

      Khalid answers the question – it’s a name like Connolly – you could wonder why I defend John Connolly for some things by suggesting I am a member of the Connolly clan which I guess I am but it has no bearing on the matters since I know of no relation to John – I suppose Haqqani is like Smith or Jones – the same clan but no real connection. My mother’s maiden name was similar to several well known Hollywood actors or television personalities; I thought I was related to them until I found they had all changed their names from their original name.

  6. Matt, I too was once a cab driver, and it’s uncontested that I’m one of the “hardworking people” the Rolling Stones sang about in “Salt of the Earth.”
    2. Maybe this made-for-T.V. arrest was done to detract from the news of John Connolly’s acquittal.
    3. The FBI interviewed Matanov five times, and found he “lied” three times. It seems sometimes that the FBI asks people a thousand questions and if you get one wrong you’re accused of “lying to the FBI.”
    3. Since the first interview, on April 20, was after Tamerlan was killed and the Joker was in prison, why would Matanov lie about where Tamerlan’s wife lived? The FBI knew where she lived. And he most likely knew that the FBI knew.
    4. What bothers me most is the storm trooper invasion of a person’s home.
    If he were a threat, he would have been arrested a long time ago.
    5. It’s not a crime to watch violent videos or to espouse violence. If it were John McCain’s espousal of a “no-fly zone” in Libya would subject him to arrest.
    6. I note that Matanov was not charged with calling for the immediate violent overthrow the government of the Unites States, which I understand can be a crime. I wonder if the FEDs would arrest today my lawyer friend Andy MacCauley who, during the St. Pat’s Parade case, said, “It’s time to take the muskets off the wall” so concerned was he about Massachusetts Judges crushing free speech rights.
    7. Matanov freely went to the Police and told them that he was in contact with the Tsarnaevs immediately after the bombing and that he visited the brothers in Cambridge. So, he wasn’t really acting like an accessory after the fact. He was acting like an innocent person trying to help the Police.
    8. We all want anyone criminally connected to the Marathon Bombings to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Whether Matanov was connected as an accessory, and whether he is being prosecuted lawfully or on trumped up charges, remains to be seen. It’s either a case of government due diligence, over-caution, or over zealousness. Time may tell.
    9. Why was Tamerlan’s wife never charged with anything. She knew nothing about what her husband planned? She didn’t recognize his pictures on T.V. I understand it’s not against the law to not help the Police, but didn’t Tamerlan return to their apartment in Cambridge after the fact, and didn’t she provide him with some type of assistance: a place to stay: knowing he was killer? Remember Catherine Grieg was charges with helping Bulger, even though when she fled with Bulger neither she nor anyone else knew in 1995 that Bulger was a murderer.

    1. Extorting Guilt: A System Of Justice(?) Gone Awry :

      The department is called the Department of Justice. Justice is defined as . Judge in NY


      1. I think it was President Reagan who said “we are all taxi cab drivers.”
      2. It may have been done to push Connolly off the news as you suggest.
      3. We will never know if he lied or not because no recording was made of what he said; it was on the recollection of some FBI agent. You ever play one of those games where someone whispers into another’s ear something and it is whispered among five or six others. It always is garbled at the end. The question is if he lied how did that interfere with the investigation of the Tsarnaevs. He knew nothing about what they did so had he not lied the same result would have attained. Can you be indicted for telling the truth to an FBI agent if the FBI agent has to spend time investigating whether you told the truth or not? Isn’t that obstructing an investigation as much as lying on a matter that doesn’t matter.
      4. He was no threat. They had followed him for a year coming and going to his taxi job. They could have arrested him anytime. An agent could have hired his cab to drive him to the FBI building or the courthouse and arrested him there.
      5. Now it is a crime to watch violent videos or to conceal your thoughts about things the FBI seeks to know the answers to.
      6. Andy MacCauley does not sound like a member of the Muslim religion. If he is, and if he had any contact with Matanov then he better watch out.
      7. None are innocent; we are all guilty to some degree.
      8. Even our Government doesn’t allege Matanov was an accessory. I admits he was not criminally connected to the bombings. Had it the slightest evidence he was, it would have been shouted out in the headlines. His crime relates to his activities. You don’t have to wait to see he had nothing to do with the bombings. Nothing, either as an accessory before or after. How can you wonder about that?
      9. Had Whitey had the decency to marry Greig she never would have been charged – marriage makes a difference in the standing of a party.

    2. An interesting note regarding facts presented in the media and that the media doesn’t always get it right would be the repeated reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev trained at Wai Kru MMA in Allston – this is not accurate, while Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been there he actually trained out of the South Boston Boxing Club in Southie. I believe the South Boston Boxing club is where he was training when the rules were changed making it even more stringent regarding non-citizens which consequently disallowing Tsarnaev from competing at all. Tsarnaev reportedly wanted to fight for the U.S. and not Russia but was waiting on his U.S. Citizenship. Sounded like a man without a country and no life after having his boxing career derailed.

      1. Jan:

        I agree with you that the way Tamerlan was treated in not letting him become a citizen made him into a man without a country and took away from him what he most dearly wanted which was to compete for the US in the Olympics. It made him hate everything that he once loved – sort of like we see in divorce cases. I didn’t know he trained in Southie. If the media knew they would have played it up hoping to give Southie another back eye.

  7. The authorities don’t always listen, don’t always follow through and aren’t opposed to blatantly lying while they know the most innocent unjustly suffer and are consequently often revictimized due the resultant lack of justice the knowledge of which is shared amongst their inner circles – how many years did it take the authorities to indict Edward MacKenzie on a mere fraction of the heinous crimes he committed for over 30 years – I’d cast MacKenzie as a terrorist, one who repeatedly terrorized innocent souls.

    1. Jan:

      Have you ever seen the “authorities.” Do they include the courthouse cops who patrol the perimeter of the federal courthouse. One once threatened to arrest me during the Whitey trial if I didn’t move from where I was sitting at 7:00 am – I should have stood up to him but didn’t feel like being hassled by a moron. Speaking of MacKenzie – he isn’t in the can for what you have said that he did women but for other things. So he never will have to face any consequences for his terror.

      1. I believe John Connolly had something to do with MacKenzie’s evading prosecution years ago.

        1. Jan:

          It was his job in the FBI to protect his high level informants. If MacKenzie had a connection with Whitey maybe through that he helped MacKenzie. He certainly had something to do with the wrongful prosecution of Naimovich.

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