CNN’s update this evening is worth noting even without any other major updates to the case of Usaama Rahim. Pushing First Amendment issues in this context is not a risk-free enterprise, which isn’t the fault of the speech. Rahim originally intended to behead Pamela Geller, but got too impatient and decided to go after “the easiest target” instead.
Usaamah Rahim, the man fatally shot after waving a military knife at officers, had been plotting to behead Pamela Geller, an activist and conservative blogger, law enforcement sources told CNN. Geller drew national attention last month after police thwarted an attack on an event her organization was sponsoring in Garland, Texas.
Usaamah Rahim, who was fatally shot after waving a military knife at law enforcement officers, was originally plotting to behead a prominent New York resident targeted in other terror plots, three law enforcement sources told CNN on Wednesday.
But Rahim, a 26-year-old security guard who officials believe was radicalized by ISIS and other extremists, decided instead to target the “boys in blue,” a reference to police, according to court documents. “I can’t wait that long,” he said of the original beheading plan, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Boston on Wednesday.
About two hours before Rahim’s confrontation with officers on a Boston Street, he allegedly told an associate he was “going to … go after them, those boys in blue. ‘Cause … it’s the easiest target,” the documents say.
We know a bit more about David Wright’s involvement in this plot, but not much more than that. Right now, he’s only charged with obstruction after trying to destroy Rahim’s cell phone yesterday. He’ll only face a maximum of five years in prison on that charge, unless the feds can find evidence showing he was an active member of the plot.
Geller’s name doesn’t come up in the affadavit. The FBI alleges that Rahim told Wright of his intention “to kill a person outside Massachusetts,” which CNN reports is a reference to Geller. The FBI also alleges that Wright knew enough about the idea to make a reference to “thinking with your head on your chest,” which the indictment says is a reference to beheading videos from terrorist groups and how they pose their victims after a beheading.
By Monday morning — at 5 am — Rahim had changed his mind, and the conversation described by CNN took place. They know some of this because Wright decided to sing like a canary after getting picked up by the FBI:
On June 2, 2015, agents of the FBI interviewed WRIGHT shortly after RAHIM was shot. The agents advised WRIGHT of his Miranda rights. WRIGHT waived his rights and agreed to speak with the agents. During this interview, the agents asked WRIGHT about what had transpired at the Sunday meeting on the beach in Rhode Island. According to WRIGHT, at that meeting, RAHIM told WRIGHT and the third person that he was going to behead the intended victim in another state. WRIGHT indicated that he agreed with RAHIM’s plan and supported it.
That turned out to be a bad idea, too, but this part of the affidavit raises another question. It would seem that the FBI and the DoJ could make a case against Wright for the plot itself, but perhaps he’s getting a deal to testify against the third man in the cell. The FBI has to find him first, of course, but we’ll see when they do. In the meantime, Wright’s not going anywhere.