A Massachusetts man named David Wright has been convicted of plotting to kill conservative blogger Pamela Geller after she organized a draw the Prophet Muhammad contest in Texas in 2015.
Wright, 28, is facing life in prison after being found guilty on all charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, after prosecutors said Wright, his uncle and a third man conspired to kill Geller because they were outraged that she organized the contest. The contest, which took place in 2015, was interrupted when two men opened fire outside the event, wounding a security guard before they were killed ina shootout with law enforcement. But the attackers had no connection to Wright or his family members.
Wright’s uncle, Ussamah Rahim, told Wright on a recorded phone call that took place after Geller's event that he couldn’t wait to attack Geller and decided instead to go after “those boys in blue,” referring to the police. Wright told his uncle that he thought this was “beautiful” and encouraged him to delete all the data from his computer before carrying out his attack, the Associated Press reported. Hours later, Rahim was shot and killed by authorities after he lunged at them with a knife when they approached him in Boston. The group never carried out their planned attack on Geller.
Wright cried on the stand when he spoke of his uncle, insisting that he didn’t think Rahim was serious about the attack. Wright, who was more than 500 pounds (227 kilograms) in 2015, testified that he used Islamic State group propaganda to get attention but was just playing a role and never wanted to commit violence.
“I didn’t want my uncle to get hurt. I didn’t want law enforcement to get hurt,” Wright said.
“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.”
Prosecutors said Wright was the ringleader of the plot, and that his uncle had received instructions from Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State group member and hacker, who was killed during airstrikes in Syria.
Though Wright's account of the plot was easily debunked after prosecutors found that he created a Twitter page seeking recruits for their “martyrdom operation cell,” conducted extensive research on weapons, and collected a trove of horrific Islamic State group documents and videos. He also created a manifesto warning that America’s “days are numbered,” prosecutors said. Wright’s uncle bought three large knives — one for each of them — for their attack on Geller, authorities say.
The third man accused in the plot, Nicholas Rovinski, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy charges and faces 15 to 22 years in prison. Rovinski, of Warwick, Rhode Island, testified against Wright, telling jurors that Wright said Geller “deserved to be beheaded” because she insulted Mohammad.