Jurors have convicted a Boston-area man accused of plotting to behead Pamela Geller, a right-wing blogger who organized a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in May 2015.
David Wright, 28, was found guilty Wednesday of conspiring to provide support to the Islamic State, acts of terrorism and obstructing justice in connection with a failed plot targeting Ms. Geller and others.
Wright, of Everett, Mass., faces life imprisonment when he’s sentenced in December.
Federal prosecutors charged both Wright and Rhode Island resident Nicholas Rovinski in 2015 with conspiring to commit attacks and kill persons inside the U.S., including Ms. Geller, supposedly in hopes of supporting the Islamic State’s objectives.
Rovinski pleaded guilty to two related counts of conspiracy in Sept. 2016 and testified as a witness last month in the government’s case against Wright, paving the way for the latter’s conviction Wednesday.
“We can all sleep better now knowing that David Wright, a person who wanted to kill in the name of ISIS, will no longer be free to walk the streets of the Commonwealth,” Peter Kowenhoven, FBI assistant special agent in charge, said following Wright’s conviction Wednesday, using an alternative name for the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIL.
Along with Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, Wright’s 26-year-old uncle, prosecutors said the men had planned to decapitate Ms. Geller for organizing a “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas. ISIS issued a fatwah, or religious decree, seeking her murder, and Junaid Hussain, a British hacker who controlled social media operations for ISIS, sent Rahim instructions for killing her and then relayed them to Wright and Rovinski, according to prosecutors.
The attack on Ms. Geller never happened, but two other men who followed Hussain’s Twitter account – Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi – opened fire outside of her art show on May 3, 2015, injuring a security officer before being shot and killed by police.
Rahim called off the plan targeting Ms. Geller during a June 2 phone call with his nephew and said he wanted to murder law enforcement officials instead, according to prosecutors. He was killed by police several hours later after allegedly threatening authorities with a knife, and Hussain hailed him on Twitter afterwards as a “martyr” who had planned to behead Ms. Geller.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts unsealed an indictment 10 days following Rahim’s death charging Wright and Rovinski in connection with the failed plot.
“I didn’t want my uncle to get hurt. I didn’t want law enforcement to get hurt,” Wright testified during his trial. “I lost someone who was very close to me because I was so deluded and self-centered that I couldn’t see beyond my own need for attention.”
Wright plans to appeal the conviction, his attorney said.
Ms. Geller, the founder of the anti-Islam “American Freedom Defense Initiative” and “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center watchdog, said she is thrilled with the verdict and “deeply grateful to the good people of Boston who were on the jury,” the Associated Press reported.
Hussain was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Aug. 2015. Hussain’s wife, fellow Brit and alleged ISIS recruiter Sally Jones, was killed in a similar strike this past June along with with her 12-year-old son, U.K. media reported earlier this month. The Pentagon has failed so far to confirm those reports.
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