Slain man linked to terrorist plot
Officials say Usaamah Rahim of Boston wanted to behead someone, attack cops.
A Boston man who was shot and killed by members of a counter-terrorism task force had been planning to behead someone and possibly attack police officers as part of a jihadist plot, officials said Wednesday.
Initially, Usaamah Rahim, 26, a private security officer who lived in Boston, had been preparing to behead someone in another state and bought knives online from Amazon last week, according to investigators, who said two other people were involved with his plans.
But officials said they believed that on Tuesday morning, in the final hours of his life, Rahim had decided to change targets and go after police officers.
“I’m just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue,” Rahim said, according to investigators’ transcript of a call to a friend, David Wright, 24, who reportedly supported his plans. “’Cause, ah, it’s the easiest target and, ah, the most common is the easiest for me.”
Rahim was fatally shot in the Boston neighborhood of Roslindale when members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force approached him for questioning, and he responded by threatening them with a knife, officials said.
When investigators confronted Rahim near a CVS parking lot about 7 a.m., they told him to drop the knife, and he replied, “You drop yours,” a criminal complaint says.
Investigators have refused to publicly discuss details about Rahim’s background and why they started watching him. But the details emerging about his case have raised concerns that he was potentially influenced by militant groups in the Middle East, such as Islamic State, which use the Internet to recruit followers.
“These cases are a reminder of the dangers posed by individuals radicalized through social media,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Wednesday.
The details about Rahim are contained in the criminal complaint filed against Wright, who was charged Wednesday with conspiring to delete information from Rahim’s laptop and smartphone to thwart investigators.
The two men had been under watch for at least several days, with investigators monitoring their phone calls, texts and packages, according to the criminal complaint.
On Sunday, the pair met with an unidentified third man in Rhode Island to discuss beheading an unidentified person in another state, according to court documents.
Then at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Rahim called Wright to say, “I can’t wait that long, I can’t wait that long, man,” according to a transcript in the court documents.
The complaint said Wright was supportive, telling Rahim, “Make sure also, very important, make sure that, ah, at the moment that you decide to [do] that you ah, delete, you delete ah, from your phone or you break it apart. Throw it down to the ground.”
“Yup,” Rahim replied, according to the transcript.
“Get rid of it, before anybody gets it; make sure it’s completely destroyed,” Wright allegedly said. “Because, at the scene, at the scene, CSI” — an apparent reference to crime scene investigators — “will be looking for that particular thing and so dump it, get rid of that.”
During the conversation, Wright commented to Rahim about “thinking with your head on your chest,” an apparent reference to beheadings by foreign terrorist organizations in which executioners place victims’ heads on their chests in propaganda videos, an FBI special agent wrote.
Wright appeared in fed- eral court Wednesday afternoon, where prosecutors reportedly argued he was a f light risk. He remains in custody, with another hearing set for June 19.
“I would urge the government, the FBI and law enforcement in investigating this case and related cases, be transparent as possible,” Wright’s attorney, Jessica Hedges, told reporters at Wednesday’s hearing, according to the Boston Globe. “And in enforcing the law, abide by the law. We have serious concerns about that already.”
Hedges did not elaborate and could not be reached for comment after business hours Wednesday.
The shooting had raised questions from Rahim’s family and some activists who questioned whether it was justified.
On Wednesday, investigators allowed Boston com- munity and religious leaders to view surveillance video of Rahim’s shooting.
Rahim’s brother, an imam, Ibrahim Rahim, had alleged in a Facebook post Tuesday that his brother had been shot in the back while on the phone with his father and that he had been waiting at the bus stop to go to work.
But Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, who viewed the video, told reporters, “The individual was not on a cellphone. The individual was not shot in the back.”
A local imam agreed and added of Usaamah Rahim’s confrontation with officials, “It wasn’t at a bus stop, he wasn’t shot in the back.... He was approaching them, they did back up.”
But Williams and other community leaders said the video was too far away to show the incident in detail. They said they would withhold judgment on whether the shooting was justified.
Ibrahim Rahim could not be reached for comment Wednesday and had not made any additional posts after community leaders contradicted his claims.
“The most important thing to do now is to let us do our work,” Suffolk County Dist. Atty. Daniel Conley said at a news conference. His office is investigating the use of force.
“It’s very important we get to the very bottom of what happened,” he said.
POLICE DETECTIVES investigate the scene of a shooting Tuesday in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood. Terrorism investigators killed Usaamah Rahim, who had been under surveillance for at least several days.