Dead suspect planned to behead police, US court hears

2015-06-04 07:00
In this courtroom sketch, David Wright, left, is depicted standing with his attorney Jessica Hedges during a hearing in federal court in Boston, US. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)

In this courtroom sketch, David Wright, left, is depicted standing with his attorney Jessica Hedges during a hearing in federal court in Boston, US. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)

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New York - A 26-year-old security guard shot dead by police and the FBI in Boston planned to behead American police officers at random to wage violent jihad, court papers said on Wednesday.

Usaamah Rahim purchased three military-style knives and a sharpener from before allegedly deciding to "go after" the "boys in blue" because they were "the easiest target".

But he was killed outside a pharmacy at 07:00 on Tuesday. Police said he refused to drop his weapon and lunged towards five retreating officers, who then shot him to save their lives.

An alleged associate, David Wright, 25, appeared in court on Wednesday charged with conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation.

He was allegedly fully informed of Rahim's plans and ordered him to delete his phone and computer data, and destroy his Smart phone to prevent it falling into the hands of law enforcement.

Court papers said Rahim, who lived in Boston, had been "planning to engage in a violent attack in the United States" since May 26 - little over a week before his death.

He allegedly ordered three knives from Amazon, which were delivered to his home, and discussed his plan with Wright and a third person on a beach in Rhode Island last Sunday.

Plan to behead victim

Wright allegedly told the FBI the first plan was to behead an unnamed victim in another state, but Rahim telephoned him at 05:00 on the morning of his death to change his mind.

Instead he told Wright that he was going to "go after" the "boys in blue," and randomly kill police officers in Massachusetts - either on Tuesday or Wednesday - the court papers said.

It was with one of the knives purchased from Amazon that Rahim lunged towards officers two hours later, court papers alleged.

Wright was arrested overnight and accused with conspiring with Rahim to destroy, mutilate, conceal and cover up his smart phone in order to obstruct an investigation, which is a federal offense.

Rahim at first had plotted to behead Pamela Geller, an activist and conservative blogger, law enforcement sources told CNN television. She was in the spotlight last month when a security officer stopped an attack at her group's contest for Prophet Muhammad drawings in Garland, Texas.

Threat to law enforcement

If convicted, Wright faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250 000.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said there had been intelligence for "weeks" that military and law enforcement lives were at threat.

Authorities put out "several notices" about the threat of attack on law enforcement and military bases, he added.

The court papers made no mention of when, where or how Rahim may have become susceptible to extremist Islamist thought.

A senior official warned last week that the United States launches a new investigation into suspected sympathisers of the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria almost every day.

On Wednesday, a Muslim community leader shown a video of Rahim's death, said there was no evidence to back up a claim from his family that he had been shot in the back as he waited for the bus.

Not shot in the back

"It was not at a bus stop. He was not shot in the back," Imam Abdullah Faaruuq told reporters.

It was not clear what happened and the knife was not visible but "he was approaching them. They did back up," Faaruuq acknowledged.

Evans said the video showed five law enforcement officers retreating with their hands up, and that witness and officer accounts had detailed commands on the suspect to drop his weapon.

"You see them go a good 15 yards with a threat coming at them. We can all agree. The weaponry is not clear, but with five officers coming at them, there was no doubt in the video," said Evans.

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