A Boston man killed by law enforcement officers on Tuesday has been described as an ISIS sympathiser who had allegedly planned to behead a leading anti-muslim activist in New York.
Usaamah Rahim, who the authorities said had been under 24/7 surveillance for a while now, had changed his plans later and had wanted to go after police officers instead.
He was shot dead outside a pharmacy by an FBI agent and a local police officer who had wanted to talk to him but opened fire, when, the police said, he rushed them with a knife.
He had been under 24//7 surveillance for months and authorities believed the time had come to confront him. When stopped, he is reported to have charged the officers with a knife.
That weapon was described as a military knife, inspired, officials said, by the one used by Jihadi John, the killer of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Police have arrested an associate — charges had not been made public till late Wednesday — and are possibly looking for a third man, whose links to the plots remained unclear.
CNN identified Pam Geller, an anti-muslim activist who organized the Texas competition of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, as Rahim’s first intended target.
Geller was an early opponent of an effort to re-build a mosque to replace a New York structure damaged in the 9/11 attacks that caught international attention, known as Park 51
Two persons who wanted to attack the event hosted by her at a school in the suburbs of Austin, Texas were shot dead by a police officer as soon as they opened fire.
Some Muslims believe it’s blasphemous to draw or paint the prophet or — as Charlie Hebdo killers sought to make their macabre case — to lampoon him through cartoons.
Geller told a TV interviewer on Wednesday she expects to be targeted because of her views in defense of freedom of expression and is protected by an “army of security guards”.
Law enforcement officials have said that Rahim, 26, had become radicalized by jihadi social media sites and was not only in touch with ISIS but was spreading its message.
Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House homeland security committee, said at a hearing Wednesday Rahim was under investigation for being in touch with the ISIS.
The senior government official deposing before the committee was unable to give an estimate of the number of Americans suspected to be influenced by ISIS’s online blitz.
Hundreds or thousands, he conceded when pressed.