Slain man linked to ter­ror­ist plot

Of­fi­cials say Usaamah Rahim of Bos­ton wanted to be­head some­one, at­tack cops.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Matt Pearce matt.pearce@la­times.com Times staff writer Katie Shep­herd con­trib­uted to this report.

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.

Mark Garfinkel Bos­ton Her­ald

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.

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