Boston’s Wannabe Beheader ‘Liked’ ISIS Enough to Kill
An Everett, Massachusetts man was arraigned on charges of conspiring to destroy evidence in an investigation related to a beheading plot in Massachusetts Federal Court Wednesday, a day after his friend was shot and killed during an encounter with police.
The man, David Wright, was arrested Tuesday afternoon. His friend Usaama Rahim, 26, was shot dead by a Boston police officer and an FBI agent early Tuesday in a CVS parking lot. Rahim made public his admiration for ISIS public through Facebook posts before he was killed.
According to the complaint, Rahim was shot after he refused to drop his weapon when confronted by authorities. Instead, he allegedly responded with "you drop yours," and moved towards them with his weapon.
A Tuesday post by Usaama's brother, Ibrahim Rahim, a prominent imam in the Boston community, tells a different story. He said the officers shot Usaama three times in the back. Ibrahim posted his account on Facebook shortly after the shooting. His last words were, “I can’t breathe,” he wrote.
But the Facebook account of Usaama, himself, ties Usaama to an ISIS Facebook group. The account is listed as Abu Sufyaan, but gives Usaama al-Rahim as the name in Arabic. A friend of Rahim’s confirmed to The Daily Beast that this was Usaama’s account.
On Rahim’s Facebook profile, he “likes” The Islamic State of Iraq.
The account also displays photo of an empty grave, dated August 20, 2013.
In February of that same year, he posted an image of an open coffin along with the lines, “Everyone shall taste the death then unto us you shall be returned,” quoting the Quran.
In March of 2013, Rahim changed his Facebook cover photo to an image of a long jetty reaching out to the water with the caption, “Let not the opinions of man interfere with the directions given to you by God.”
His profile picture appears to be appears to be an aerial image of women praying at the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
Many of his Facebook likes are preachers and sites linked with salafism, an ultra-conservative school of Islam. Variants of the school are practiced in Saudi Arabia, a country with which Rahim’s Facebook page shows a fascination, and terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
The name draws from the salaf—the earliest generations of Muslims.
The FBI was watching the men closely. Packages delivered to Rahim's address were x-rayed before delivery. As a result, authorities saw knives and sharpening tools delivered to Rahim from Amazon.
According to the criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Wright is being charged with destroying Rahim's smartphone "with intent to impede, obstruct, or influence an investigation." The complaint alleges that Wright confirmed Rahim's intent to engage in a violent attack during an interview Tuesday.
The complaint also reveals that during recorded phone calls in late May, Rahim joked with Wright that he got a "nice little tool." "You know it's good for carving wood and like, you know, carving sculptures... and you know..." Rahim allegedly said, before they both began laughing. The attack in that conversation was apparently meant to take place in another state. Both men then met with an unnamed third person to discuss the attack—allegedly a beheading—on Sunday.
An early morning call on Tuesday, however, indicates that Rahim told Wright he would instead "go after" local police. "I'm just going to ah go after them, those boys in blue. Cause, ah, it's the easiest target and, ah, the most common is the easiest for me..." Rahim allegedly said, according to a recorded conversation.
In the course of that conversation, Wright also instructed Rahim to destroy his smartphone and wipe his computer. The third person in their conversations has not been named.
“We knew the plot had to be stopped. They were planning to take action Tuesday,” a law enforcement source told The Boston Globe.
A friend of Usaama Rahim’s says he started to become more religious sometime around 2009. Before that, “he was happy go lucky,” she said in a Facebook message. “Really smart. Still family oriented,” said the friend.
She declined to elaborate more on his religious transformation.
“All I know is he was once upon a time a good guy,” she said.
Another neighbor of Rahim’s knew him from mosque at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, and often saw him and his family in the neighborhood. He usually sported sweatpants and a T-shirt. He was tall, maybe 6 feet, heavy built, with a beard.
“He was reserved—very religious, he and his wife,” she said, adding that the terrorism charges against him were “shocking.”
The neighbor said that, although she sometimes disagreed with his wife about if things like women tweezing their eyebrows is acceptable, the division never got more serious than that. From what she understood, they “didn’t believe in the whole terrorism thing.”
“I can tell you for sure they were good people,” the neighbor said.
But she also says that about two years ago, shortly after the wedding, Rahim and his new wife started distancing themselves from the community and that she has since lost touch with the couple.
Rahim’s neighbor learned about his death from a bus driver riding the 34 line to work Tuesday morning.
“He saw a ton of blood,” the driver told her. “He saw a body on the ground that was covered.” It was only when she went on Facebook and saw Ibrahim Rahim’s post that she realized it was someone she knew.
“I’m so shocked. I literally saw his mother last week at the same spot,” she said.
Although Boston Police officials say video of the shooting is available, it has not yet been released to the public. At a press conference in Boston on Wednesday, however, Muslim community leaders disputed Ibrahim Rahim's initial claim that his brother had been shot in the back while calling the video "inconclusive."
According to what appears to be Wright’s Facebook profile, he lists himself as 25 years old and an attendee at Bunker Hill Community College. Usaama Rahim is one of his nine friends in that account. He is also friends with Ibrahim Rahim.
Wright appears to have another Facebook account, which he stopped using in 2012. He posted several times about deleting the account. "Attention FACEBOOK: I will be deleting this account and making the last and final new one. I have to dump some skeletons insha'Allah, Alhamdulillah lets push forward," he wrote on June 7 of that year.
The two accounts have the same birthdate, and appear to be the same person in pictures. In this more widely open account he also shows an interest in salafism, like Rahim.
The account also shows many posts about the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The profile posted a link to Alex Jones’s radio show, suggesting the massacre—which left 12 people dead and 70 injured—may have been staged by the U.S. government to promote gun control.
In another post, the wall tied to Wright shared an image of James Holmes, who is on trial facing capital punishment for the Aurora shooting, along with the words, “I shot 71 people, killed 12 of them. If I were muslim they would call me TERRORIST."
A neighbor of Wright’s told The Boston Globe that Wright often wears ankle-length robes, prays in his front yard, and maintains a pit in the woods near his home. The Facebook profile in David Wright’s name is friends with Ibrahim Rahim.
“It’s just a pit with a couple tables and chicken wire surrounding it,” he told The Boston Globe.
On Facebook, Ibrahim Rahim, the Boston imam, has a history of decrying police brutality but also radical Islamist violence. "To all of those who jump up and march the squares in protest any time an image or cartoon is drawn about Prophet Muhammad PBOH, where are you at now? Why aren't you demanding that these terrorists take down this anti-Islamic imagery from the Internet just as you demand that cartoons be taken down?" he asked, underneath a screenshot of masked men standing before a Nusra Front flag. "What's the bigger joke: your 'intolerance' toward a cartoon or your 'acceptance' of their (Jihadis) trivialization of this Deen?"