Men linked to Boston terror suspect charged with supporting ISIS

Men linked to Boston terror suspect charged with supporting ISIS
© CNN

Two men allegedly tied to a Boston man shot dead by police after approaching with a knife were charged for conspiring to support terrorism on Friday.

According to the Justice Department, David Wright and Nicholas Rovinski aided in Usaamah Rahim’s scuttled plots to behead the women behind a Texas “Draw Muhammad” event and to attack Boston police officers.

The attacks were designed to support the goals of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the government alleged.

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Wright was previously arrested earlier this month and charged with conspiring to impede an investigation. Rovinski was arrested on Thursday and will appear in a federal court in Boston on Friday afternoon.

Rahim was killed by Boston police and FBI officers on June 2, after they approached him to talk and he reportedly began to walk toward them while holding a knife.

According to federal charges, 25-year-old Wright and 24-year-old Rovinski — a Rhode Island resident — plotted with Rahim to kill Pamela Geller, an anti-Muslim activist who organized a “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, earlier this year. Two gunmen from Arizona attempted to attack that event but were killed by security officers. 

Muslims consider depictions of the Prophet Muhammad to be deeply offensive. Shortly after the May 3 event, apparent members of ISIS put out a call for supporters to “slaughter” Geller.

The three New England men met on a deserted Rhode Island beach late in May and “discussed plans to behead” Geller, Wright and Rovinski allegedly admitted to police.

That plot came after the men posted on social media sites in support of ISIS for months, the government charged. Rovinski allegedly uploaded and favorited videos about making weapons and glorifying ISIS.

On the morning of June 2, Rahim told Wright that the plan was off and that instead he would go after “those boys in blue” — an apparent reference to police officers — in Massachusetts. Wright responded that he should “completely wipe out everything” on his phone and laptop, to hide communications from the police.

Later that morning, police approached Rahim to question him. Rahim pulled out a knife, walked toward them and was shot to death.

Rahim was Wright’s uncle. According to the federal charges, Wright told FBI agents after Rahim’s death that Rahim had “pledged allegiance” to ISIS and made an oath to support Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the extremist group.

In interviews with police, both men also allegedly said that they supported ISIS.

Wright and Rovinski were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. They face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. officials pointed to the Boston case as a prime example of the dangers posed by adherents of Islamic extremism, who follow groups like ISIS from afar via the Internet, but take inspiration from them to carry out attacks at home.