Boston police cast doubt on claim terror suspect planned to behead Pamela Gellar
The organizer of a May event in Texas highlighting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed said on Thursday that she was the target of a man who federal prosecutors said had intended to behead police officers in Boston.
However, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said it did not seem that Usamaah Abdullah Rahim had developed a specific plan to attack Pamela Geller.
“This was wishful thinking” on Rahim’s part, Evans said on NBC’s “Today” program, although he noted Geller’s name had come up in wiretapped phone calls.
Geller had told CNN that she believed that Rahim, whom police said they shot dead on Tuesday after he allegedly confronted them with a large knife, had planned to come after her.
Many Muslims consider cartoons of Mohammed blasphemous, and a series of violent confrontations have played out over the past year in the United States and Europe over the images. Gunmen had targeted Geller’s event.
“Drawing a cartoon warrants chopping my head off? I don’t understand it,” Geller, president of a group that calls itself the American Freedom Defense Initiative, said on CNN. “What happened to give me liberty or give me death?”
Her group is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual list of U.S. hate groups.
Rahim had planned to travel out of Massachusetts to kill someone but on Tuesday changed his mind and told a friend that he instead would attempt to behead police officers in Boston, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit filed on Wednesday when the friend, David Wright, was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Rahim met with a third, as-yet-unidentified person, in Rhode Island to discuss the plot, according to the affidavit.
Rahim had been under 24-hour surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force when police and FBI agents approached him on Tuesday morning for questioning. According to police, he advanced on the officers with a large knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before he was shot and killed.
The AFDI event in Garland, Texas, was attacked by a pair of gunmen carrying assault rifles who were shot dead by police before they succeeded in killing anyone.
Several hundred people, some armed, loudly denounced Islam outside a mosque in Phoenix on Friday. Police officers with gas masks and riot helmets were called in to separate them from pro-Muslim demonstrators.