Suspected terrorists communicated with ISIS members, developed ‘sleeper cell,’ investigators say

In a new federal indictment, more details were released about the suspected terror plot developed by three men last summer.

Blurry, distant video of the police shooting of Usaamah Rahim was released on Monday.
Blurry, distant video of the police shooting of Usaamah Rahim was released shortly after he was killed by police in June. –AP

A man killed by police in Roslindale last summer after they uncovered a suspected terror plot was communicating directly with an overseas ISIS member, federal prosecutors detail in a new indictment against his alleged co-conspirators.

One of those co-conspirators has allegedly continued to pledge allegiance to ISIS while behind bars.

Usaamah Rahim — who was killed by police on June 2 — David Wright and Nicholas Rovinski were orchestrating a “martyrdom operations cell” in the months before Rahim died, the indictment states. Prosecutors say the trio had plans to behead anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, and were researching and purchasing weaponry.

Wright and Rovinski, who were arrested after Rahim was killed, now face charges of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries. Wright additionally faces two counts of obstruction of justice. They will be arraigned on the new charges on April 28.


For four months, beginning in February 2015, Rahim spoke with ISIS members, including Junaid Hussain, an ISIS member who used Twitter to encourage terror attacks including one against Geller at a Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest she organized in Garland, Texas.

After Rahim was killed, Hussain wrote on Twitter that Rahim was a martyr who was involved in a beheading plot to kill Geller. He wrote that in their last conversation, he told Rahim to carry a knife in case the “feds” tried to arrest him. On August 24, Hussin was killed in an airstrike in Syria.

Usaamah Rahim was shot to death by terror investigators on June 2.
Usaamah Rahim was shot to death by terror investigators on June 2. —AP

Rahim, 26, was under round-the-clock surveillance when police approached him in a Roslindale CVS parking lot. He was wielding a large knife, they said, and when they told him to drop it, he refused.

“You drop yours,’’ he said.

He was shot three times and killed. Earlier that day, the FBI detailed in an affidavit, he told Wright he planned to “go after them, those boys in blue.”

Rovinski also had his own communications with overseas terrorists, the indictment says, talking about his “intention” to commit violence on behalf of ISIS. He also viewed YouTube videos about making weapons, prosecutors wrote.

Wright obtained a jihadist manual called “How to Survive in the West,” which detailed how to become a sleeper cell until ordered to attack, according to the indictment. He allegedly searched online for “what is the most flammable chemical,” “which tranquilizer puts humans to sleep instantly,” and “how to start a secret militia in [the] US.”


Even after being arrested, Rovinski continued to pledge his allegiance to the Islamic State, according to investigators, going so far as to scribble his support on the back of the criminal complaint charging him in the terrorism case. And while in jail, he’s attempted to recruit people to join his plan to attack and decapitate non-believers, investigators wrote.

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