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Man Fatally Shot In Boston Was Planning Attack On Police, Officials Say

Attorney Jessica Hedges (center) talks to members of the media outside the federal courthouse in Boston after the arraignment of her client David Wright on Wednesday.
Stephan Savoia
Attorney Jessica Hedges (center) talks to members of the media outside the federal courthouse in Boston after the arraignment of her client David Wright on Wednesday.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET

A knife-wielding man who was fatally shot by terrorism investigators in Boston earlier this week had been plotting to "go after ... boys in blue," according to the FBI.

Usaama Rahim, 26, was killed Tuesday after he was confronted by members of an FBI antiterrorism task force and Boston police. Authorities say that Rahim lunged at them with a large, military-style knife as they approached him at his place of employment, a CVS drug store in the Roslindale neighborhood. They fatally shot him when he refused to drop his knife.

Boston police on Thursday said that Rahim had spoken of beheading conservative blogger Pamela Geller before apparently changing his mind.

"There was some mention of that name," said Police Commissioner William Evans on NBC's Today show.

Soon after Rahim was killed, a member of his family, David Wright, was arrested in connection with the incident.

NPR's Tovia Smith reports that Rahim's brother claims police shot Usaama in the back, "but community leaders, who saw video of it, say officers only fired after they tried to retreat and the suspect kept coming."

Abby Elizabeth Conway of member station WBUR in Boston reports:

"The complaint says Wright and Rahim had been planning a violent attack and that Rahim had recently taken steps to further his plan, including purchasing three large knives and a knife sharpener from Amazon.

"In May 26 phone conversations detailed in the complaint, Rahim tells Wright he got himself 'a nice little tool.' The complaint says Rahim and Wright spoke 'in guarded language' about a plan to behead someone outside of Massachusetts and 'motivation for that planned attack.' (Details of that initial plan, such as who was the target and where they were planning to carry out the attack, were not included in the complaint.)"

The Associated Press adds:

"Rahim and Wright were heard in a recorded conversation talking about 'thinking with your head on your chest,' a reference to Islamic State propaganda videos showing severed heads on the chests of beheading victims, the FBI said in an affidavit written by an agent assigned to Boston's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

"Rahim initially told Wright about a plan to behead an unidentified victim outside Massachusetts, and on Sunday, Rahim, Wright and an unidentified man met on a beach in Rhode Island to 'discuss their plans,' the FBI affidavit said."

Speaking before the media on Thursday, Abdullah Faaruuq, the imam of the Mosque for the Praising of Allah, demanded to know "who orchestrated" the confrontation with Rahim.

"If they considered him a very dangerous person, they should have approached him with caution," the imam said.

"I think it was poorly constructed, it was ill-conceived and it was reckless," he said.

Wright was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of interfering with an investigation by telling Rahim to destroy his phone, according to WBUR. However, the complaint against him says he is being investigated "for several federal criminal offenses, including terrorism offenses," the station says.

Wright has a detention hearing set for June 19.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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