Leaders: Video shows knife-wielding suspect not shot in back

Officers: Man Shot Dead by Boston Police Was Plotting to Behead a Cop
Officers: Man Shot Dead by Boston Police Was Plotting to Behead a Cop

BOSTON (AP) -- A knife-wielding man killed by the terror investigators who had him under surveillance was confronted because he had purchased knives and talked of an imminent attack on "boys in blue," the FBI said Wednesday.

Usaama Rahim plotted for at least a week to attack police, the FBI said in a complaint against David Wright, who was arrested the same day Rahim was shot to death. On Wednesday, Wright was ordered held on a charge of conspiracy with intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

The FBI said the two men bought three fighting knives and a sharpener on or before May 26, and that Rahim told Wright on Tuesday that he would begin trying to randomly kill police officers in Massachusetts.

Faced with an imminent threat, the anti-terror task force of FBI agents and Boston police confronted Rahim on a sidewalk and fatally shot him when he refused to drop his knife, authorities said.

Authorities moved swiftly Wednesday to manage perceptions of the shooting, which killed a black man whose family is well-known among Muslims and African-Americans in Boston.

Rahim's mother is a nurse at Boston University. His older brother, Ibrahim Rahim, is a scholar known for preaching after the Boston marathon bombings that violence is anti-Islamic.

Ibrahim Rahim initially posted a message on Facebook alleging that police repeatedly shot his brother in the back on Tuesday while calling their father for help. But the imam's version unraveled Wednesday after police showed their video of the confrontation to community leaders.

Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said he could "150 percent corroborate" the police account. The images clearly show that Rahim "was not on a cellphone and was not shot in the back," Williams said.

The FBI complaint refers to a recorded conversation between Rahim, 26, and Wright, 24, in which Wright made a comparison to "thinking with your head on your chest." The FBI said that was a reference to Islamic State propaganda videos showing severed heads on the chests of beheading victims.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said officers confronted the suspect because "military and law enforcement lives were at threat."

The video, which police did not make available publicly, shows that Rahim menaced the officers with a large military-style knife and that they initially backed away before shooting him when he refused to drop it, police said.

Williams said he's not ready to call the shooting justifiable, and a Boston Muslim leader, Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, said it wasn't clear from the "inconclusive" video whether police had to use deadly force.

"They might have approached him in a different way," Faaruuq said.

Ibrahim Rahim could not be reached for comment Wednesday as he traveled to Boston to bury his brother.

Usaama Rahim was under investigation after communicating with and spreading Islamic State terror group propaganda online, said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

"These cases are a reminder of the dangers posed by individuals radicalized through social media," the Texas Republican said.

Prosecutor Stephanie Siegmann said Wright posed a serious risk of fleeing or obstructing justice if not held pending a June 19 hearing. Wright's attorney, Jessica Hedges, denied that, saying he has deep roots in the Boston area and an "incredibly loving and supportive family."

Hedges urged the government to be "as transparent as possible" and "abide by the law" as it investigates this case, saying "we have serious concerns about that already."

Authorities quickly showed the video to African-American and Muslim community leaders. The meeting "was all about pulling the community together," Evans said.

After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Ibrahim Rahim described Jihadis who promote terror as "hell-bent on Islam's destruction from within," and urged fellow Islamic leaders to drive "a mass recall of the rhetoric of hate and to suppress any and all human desire to harm others based on any contrived justification."

Ibrahim Rahim "is a great guy and preaches a very moderate form of Islam," said Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, where Usaama Rahim briefly worked as a guard. Vali said Usaama Rahim did not regularly pray at the center and did not volunteer there or serve in any leadership positions.

Boston voter registration records describe Rahim as a student. Other records show he applied for a security guard license in Florida in 2011, but didn't follow through. A spokeswoman said Rahim had worked for CVS since March.

Rahim's shooting is being investigated by the Suffolk district attorney's office and the FBI - routine for shootings involving police. The Council of American-Islamic Relations is monitoring them, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

Sadiki Kambon, director of the Black Community Information Center, an activist group in Boston, called for the U.S. Justice Department to lead a more independent review.

"Why couldn't they have just gone to his house and questioned him?" Kambon asked.


Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report from Washington.


This story has been corrected to show the last name of the imam who viewed the video is Faaruuq, not Farooq.

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