New charges in Boston beheading plot to support Islamic State

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Men Charged in Boston Beheading Plot to Appear in Court

WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - Two New England men accused of plotting to behead Massachusetts police officers in support of the militant group Islamic State were receiving instructions from one of the group's cyber experts, according to a new indictment released on Thursday.

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A grand jury in federal court in Massachusetts added conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries to the charges against David Wright, 26, of Massachusetts, and Nicholas Rovinski, 25, of Rhode Island.

According to the new indictment, Rovinski has continued to support Islamic State while in jail by trying to recruit others to "decapitate non-believers" and take down the U.S. government and by writing a new pledge of support to the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on the back of his own criminal complaint.

Rovinski and Wright pleaded not guilty to the original charge of conspiring to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization after they were arrested in June, and they were due to face trial in February 2017.

See images of what life looks like under ISIS rule:

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New charges in Boston beheading plot to support Islamic State
A civilian woman carries her child during a battle with Islamic State militants, east of Mosul, Iraq, January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
Civilians walk past Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) during a battle with Islamic State militants, east of Mosul, Iraq, January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
A displaced man, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, carries a woman in the Mithaq district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke rises from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants in the Mithaq district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
An Iraqi soldier is seen during a battle with Islamic State militants, north of Mosul, Iraq, December 30, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
Iraqi people flee the Islamic State stronghold in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Iraqi people flee the Islamic State stronghold in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Iraqi rapid response forces cook food in their headquarters during the war against the Islamic state militants east of Mosul, Iraq, December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
Mohammad Hassan, whose hand was chopped off by Islamic State militants, sits outside a house at Nimrud village, south of Mosul, Iraq, December 13, 2016. Picture taken December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Displaced Iraqi boys, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, warm themselves by a fire in Khazer camp, Iraq,December 15, 2016.REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Displaced Iraqi woman, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, bids her relatives farewell as she leave Khazer camp to go home, Iraq December 10, 2016.REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Iraqi Christians come to visit the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
An Iraqi father (L) mourns the death of his son, who was killed during clashes in the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, in al-Samah neighborhood, Iraq December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
An Iraqi girl, who was wounded during clashes in the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, lies on a bed at a field hospital in al-Samah neighborhood, Iraq December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Displaced people who fled the clashes transfer to camps during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, November 30, 2016 REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
A member of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) gestures in military vehicle during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, November 30, 2016 REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man gestures as other men sit on the ground as an Iraqi Special forces intelligence team check their ID cards as they search for Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Two men hold hands as an Iraqi Special forces intelligence team searches for Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Oilfields burned by Islamic State fighters are seen in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Boys stand in front of oilfields burned by Islamic State fighters in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Civilians flee fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke rises from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A member of Shi'ite fighters carries a weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A displaced woman from the outskirts of Mosul covers herself in a blanket in the town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
A girl attends classes after the city was recaptured from the Islamic State militants in Qayyara, Iraq, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Ari Jalal
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According to the new indictment, Rovinski and Wright plotted their attacks with Wright's uncle, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, who was shot dead by law enforcement officers last June when Boston police and agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation approached him and he threatened them with a knife.

The indictment accused Rahim of beginning communication one month before he was shot with a British member of Islamic State, Junaid Hussain. Hussain was believed by government sources to be the leader of CyberCaliphate, a hacking group that last year attacked a Twitter account belonging to the Pentagon.

The indictment said Hussain gave Rahim instructions that Rahim passed on to Wright about targeting individuals such as Pamela Geller, organizer of a "Draw Mohammad" cartoon competition in Garland, Texas, that was attacked by two gunmen last May.

Hussain was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria last August.

Wright has pleaded not guilty to charges he alone faced of obstructing justice and conspiring to obstruct justice after he was accused of instructing Rahim to delete his phone and laptop data.

Wright and Rovinski now face maximum sentences of life in prison as a result of the new charges announced on Thursday. They are scheduled to be arraigned on April 28, according to the docket report in their case.

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