Men charged in Boston beheading plot to appear in court

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2015 7:03 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - Two New England men are due in court on Friday for a hearing tied to charges they plotted to help the militant group Islamic State by beheading Massachusetts police officers.

David Wright, 25, of Massachusetts, and Nicholas Rovinski, 24, of Rhode Island, will appear for a detention hearing at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Wright was arrested by Boston police on June 2, the same day officers shot dead a third man, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, while trying to question him about the beheading plot.

Authorities said Rahim, 26, threatened the officers with a knife. Rahim's family issued a statement on Friday saying they were "shocked" by officials' handling of the case and calling for an investigation into Rahim's death.

Wright and Rovinski, who was arrested last week, were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to Islamic State, an offense that carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Prosecutors said Rahim, Wright and Rovinski in late May "conspired to commit attacks and kill persons inside the United States, which they believed would support ISIL’s objectives," using an acronym for Islamic State.

The prosecutors said the men initially wanted to behead New York resident Pamela Geller, who had organized a Texas event in May highlighting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, images that many Muslims consider blasphemous. Two gunmen had attacked that event, and were shot dead by police.

They said Rahim later called Wright, who is also known as Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, to say he had revised his plan and instead intended to attack "those boys in blue," by which he meant Massachusetts police officers.

The case follows a handful of so-called "lone wolf" attacks in the United States and Canada since last year by people who authorities said were inspired by Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq and has vowed attacks on the West.

Rahim's family said it "remains shocked by these allegations" and said it believed police were trying to illegally arrest him when he was killed.

"The family maintains that, even if Usaamah Rahim was complicit in the crimes outlined in the indictment, the shooting that caused his death must be thoroughly and fairly investigated," it said.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Lisa Lambert)