BOSTON, Mass. — A Massachusetts man has been convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to murder U.S. citizens on behalf of the barbaric Islamic group ISIS.
David Wright, also known as Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, now faces possible life in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.
“Mr. Wright intended to wage war against the United States on behalf of ISIS,” Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice. “Despite the fact that he was born and raised in Massachusetts, Mr. Wright swore allegiance to ISIS, a foreign terrorist organization, and plotted attacks that he hoped would cause more harm than the Boston Marathon bombings.”
According to investigators, Wright, 28, engaged in discussions with his uncle, Usaamah Rahim, and friend Nicholas Rovinski about ISIS’ call to kill those in the United States who do not ascribe to the Islamic religion. They worked up plans for a “Martyrdom Operations Cell,” and began studying firearms, tranquilizers and secret militias.
Wright also allegedly was in communication with ISIS member Junaid Hussain until he was killed by an airstrike on the “caliphate capital” of Raqqa. Hassain initially communicated with Rahim, who relayed messages to Wright in regard to their plot to kill blogger Pamela Geller after she helped to organize a “Draw Mohammed” cartoon contest.
Wright, Rahim and Rovinski also discussed how to commit general terrorist attacks and researched weapons that could be used to behead their victims. Rovinski, who was soon taken into custody, reportedly continued writing to Wright from behind bars, sharing his thoughts about taking down the U.S. government and killing the kuffar.
In June 2015, Rahim was shot and killed by police in Roslindale after advancing on officers with a machete. Upon learning of the situation, Wright quickly deleted information from his computer and cell phone so that his part in any terrorist plots would not be found out.
However, the FBI says that it had recorded Rahim’s telephone conversation with Wright that day, as Rahim advised that he wanted to kill police, who he considered to be the enemy. Wright agreed and urged his uncle to become a martyr.
Wright was arrested the same day and was indicted, along with Rovinksi, in April 2016.
According to the Boston Globe, Wright told jurors that the pro-ISIS material he shared online was only talk and that he never meant to cause harm to anyone. He said he only pretended to be an ISIS supporter in an effort to gain attention.
“I said a lot of fantastical things about what I intended, where I wanted to go, where I wanted to travel,” he stated. “It was never real for me.”
However, prosecutors argued that Wright was not merely being provocative, and that his weapons research proved that he was serious about carrying out an attack.
He now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 19. Rovinksi, who pleaded guilty, testified against his friend during the trial.
“Mr. Wright was a soldier of ISIS right here in Massachusetts and his plan to carry out terror attacks was a very real threat,” Special Agent in Charge Harold Shaw of the FBI’s Boston Division said in a statement. “This case is a testament to the tireless efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The close coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, combined with trusted international partnerships, led to the disruption of this plot.”