A terrorism suspect alleged to have been plotting a beheading was not shot in the back when he was killed by police in Boston, as his family claimed, community leaders said Wednesday after police took the unusual step of showing them video of the encounter.
Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26, was killed Tuesday morning after he was stopped for questioning. The FBI said Wednesday that Rahim was the subject of a terrorism investigation into an alleged plot to kill law enforcement officers sometime this week.
Boston police said Rahim threatened them with a military-style knife as officers ordered him to stand down Tuesday morning in the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood. As they retreated, Rahim continued to move forward and was shot three times in the front of his body, police said.
But Rahim’s brother, Ibrahim Rahim, claimed on social media that his brother was struck three times in the back and that he stayed on the phone with their father because he wanted a witness.
Police said that the incident was recorded on surveillance video and that they decided to show it to community leaders, including Muslim leaders, in the interest of transparency.
Darnell Williams, head of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said the video “150 percent” corroborates the police account. Other leaders stopped short of calling the shooting justified, however, saying they wanted to know more.
Abdullah Faaruuq, imam of Boston’s Mosque for the Praising of Allah, said at a news conference at police headquarters that although the video’s images were “vague,” Rahim did not appear to be obeying the officers’ commands. But “we’re not satisfied until [the case is] fully vetted,” Faaruuq said.
The FBI said in a criminal affidavit that Wright knew about Rahim’s plans to kill law enforcement officers either Tuesday or Wednesday, as well as other plans to behead an unnamed victim in another state, and that he conspired with Rahim to destroy evidence of the plans.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said at a hearing Wednesday that Rahim was spreading propaganda for ISIS. A senior official told NBC News that the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force was reviewing whether Rahim had become radicalized by ISIS-inspired social media messages.
After Tuesday morning’s shooting, the investigation expanded to Wright’s home in the Boston suburb of Everett, where he was arrested, and another address in Warwick, Rhode Island, law enforcement sources told NBC News.
Officials gave no immediate details about Wright, but Bunker Hill Community College in Boston confirmed he had been a student from fall 2010 until spring 2011.
Rahim, meanwhile, had attended the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center with his wife, but he stopped going about two years ago, The Boston Globereported.
A spokeswoman for the center, which maintains Boston’s largest mosques, said in a statement Wednesday that Rahim’s relationship with it was “limited” and that he was hired as a security guard there for one month in 2013.
“Beyond this interaction, Mr. Rahim neither regularly prayed at the center nor volunteered nor served in any leadership positions,” the statement said.