12:43, 29 April, 2013

YEREVAN, APRIL 29, ARMENPRESS: The New York Reporter has revealed
the identity of "Misha," a mysterious US-based Islamist who has been
accused by members of the Tsarnaev family of radicalizing Tamerlan
Tsarnaev, the elder of the two alleged bombers. "Misha," whose real
name is Mikhail Allakhverdov flatly denied any part in the bombings,
reports Armenpress citing the magazine. The article runs as follows:
"As the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings continues,
one of the more clouded aspects is the tale of "Misha," a mysterious
US-based Islamist who has been accused by members of the Tsarnaev
family of radicalizing Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two
alleged bombers. "It started in 2009. And it started right there,
in Cambridge, "Tamerlan's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, told CNN after the
attacks. "This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him
completely. "These accusations set off a frenzied search for what
some reports have called an Islamic Svengali, and over the past few
days, the FBI has said it has located and has been talking to" Misha,
"though his identity has remained unknown.

Today I was able to meet "Misha," whose real name is Mikhail
Allakhverdov. Having been referred by a family in Boston that was close
to the Tsarnaevs, I found Allakverdov at his home in Rhode Island,
in a lower middle class neighborhood, where he lives in modest, tidy
apartment with his elderly parents. He confirmed he was a convert to
Islam and that he had known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but he flatly denied
any part in the bombings. "I wasn't his teacher. If I had been his
teacher, I would have made sure he never did anything like this,
"Allakhverdov said.

A thirty-nine-year-old man of Armenian-Ukrainian descent, Allakhverdov
is of medium height and has a thin, reddish-blond beard. When I
arrived he was wearing a green and white short-sleeve football jersey
and pajama pants. Along with his parents, his American girlfriend
was there, and we sat together in a tiny living room that abuts the
family kitchen.

Allakhverdov said he had known Tamerlan in Boston, where he lived until
about three years ago, and has not had any contact with him since. He
declined to describe the nature of his acquaintance with Tamerlan
or the Tsarnaev family, but said he had never met the family members
who are now accusing him of radicalizing Tamerlan. He also confirmed
he had been interviewed by the FBI and that he has cooperated with
the investigation: I've been cooperating entirely with the FBI. I
gave them my computer and my phone and everything I wanted to show
I haven't done anything.

And they said they are about to return them to me. And the agents
who talked told me they are about to close my case.

An FBI spokesman in Boston declined to comment on an ongoing case.

Allakverdov's statements, however, seemed to bear out recent reports
that the FBI have not found any connection between "Misha" and the
bomb plot.

One question is why members of the Tsarnaev family have made
accusations about Allakverdov. A close friend of the family in Boston
said that Misha was not known to have visited Tamerlan at home. I
interviewed Allakhverdov in Russian and it seems likely that in
whatever contact the two men had, they would have spoken Russian.

In many ways, Allakhverdov's parents seem typical former-Soviet emigres
who had embraced middle class life in the United States. His father
is an Armenian Christian and his mother is an ethnic Ukrainian.

The family had lived in Baku, Azerbaijan, but had left in the early
1990s for the United States to escape growing persecution of Armenian
Christians there. The family was welcoming to me but very nervous. "We
love this country. We never expected anything like this to happen to
us, "his father said."