A federal jury Wednesday convicted an Everett, Massachusetts man for conspiring to aid the Islamic State, behead Americans, including Pamela Geller and kill police officers.
The man, David Daoud Wright, a/k/a Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, a/k/a Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, 28, was born and raised in Massachusetts, but swore allegiance to the Islamic State and plotted attacks that he hoped would cause more harm than the Boston Marathon Bombings, said Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb.
“Wright will never again endanger the lives of innocent Americans or recruit others on behalf of a violent enemy of this country,” Weinreb said.
The DOJ said Wright’s anti-American activities became criminal in February 2015, when he formed a Massachusetts-based martyrdom operation cell with Nicholas Alexander Rovinski. Wright was also partnered with his uncle Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26.
A fourth member of the cell was Junaid Hussain, the DOJ said. The federal government identified Hussain as a member of the army of the Islamic State, who communicated with Rahim from overseas. This encrypted correspondence included instructions to target Geller.
Hussain was killed Raqqah, Syria in August 2015 during an airstrike.
Two months later, Wright opened a Twitter account that he titled “Lions of America,” along with a paper he called “Internal Conquest,” which he posted on the Internet, the DOJ said.
Among their plans, Wright, Rovinski and Rahim conspired to behead U.S. citizens at the direction of ISIS and their first target was author and anti-radical Islam activist Pamela Geller, the DOJ said. As part of this beheading operation, Rahim bought three knives.
Geller is the authoress of the book “Fatwa: Hunted in America.”
In preparation for their attacks, the government said Wright researched weapons, knives, machetes, bombing making components, as well as ways to subdue their victims.
Another one of Wright’s searches was for: “how to start a secret militia in the United States,” the government said.
Rahim was shot and killed after he attacked law enforcement officers in a parking lot June 2, 2015 in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, the DOJ said. Two hours prior to Rahim’s attack, Wright urged him to embrace martyrdom in his assault “boys in bluin aparking lote.”
The government said Wright deleted data from his laptop and restored his computer to its factory settings, in addition to deleting call logs on his cellphone that documented his calls to Rahim before noon.
Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division Harold H. Shaw said the conviction was a victory for America in the war on terror.
“It reflects the true gravity of Mr. Wright’s crimes, betraying his country, conspiring to support a terrorist organization dedicated to the murder of innocent people, and obstructing an investigation,” he said.
“Wright was a soldier of ISIS right here in Massachusetts and his plan to carry out terror attacks was a very real threat,” he said.
Wright and co-defendant Rovinski were indicted in April 2016 on charges that they conspired with each other and Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26, Wright’s uncle, to provide material support to IS and commit acts of terrorism.
Rovinski was so committed that after his arrest and awaiting trial, he wrote letters to Wright from prison that discussed planning other attacks, overthrowing the U.S. government and decapitating individuals, who did not follow Islam.
Rovinski plead guilty in September 2016 of conspiring to provide material support to IS and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.
Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Stephanie Siegmann of the District of Massachusetts’s National Security Unit prosecuted the case with DOJ trial attorney Gregory R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.