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Terror suspect killed by officers

Published 03/06/2015

Police vehicles at a home in Everett, Massachusetts, which was being searched in connection with a man shot and killed earlier in the day in Boston (AP)
Police vehicles at a home in Everett, Massachusetts, which was being searched in connection with a man shot and killed earlier in the day in Boston (AP)

A man who was under 24-hour surveillance by terrorism investigators has been shot and killed in Boston after he lunged with a knife at a police officer and an FBI agent outside a pharmacy, authorities said.

The man had been making threats against law enforcement, an official said.

Boston police commissioner William Evans said members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force approached Usaama Rahim in the city's Roslindale neighbourhood on yesterday morning to question him about "terrorist-related information" they had received when he went at officers with a large military-style knife.

Mr Evans said officers repeatedly ordered Mr Rahim to drop the knife but he continued to move toward them with it.

He said task force members fired their guns, hitting Mr Rahim once in the torso and once in the abdomen. The 26-year-old was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Evans would not disclose why Mr Rahim was under surveillance, but said a "level of alarm" prompted authorities to try to question him.

"Obviously, there was enough information there where we thought it was appropriate to question him about his doings," Mr Evans said. "He was someone we were watching for quite a time."

Mr Evans later said authorities knew Mr Rahim "had some extremism as far as his views", but he would not confirm media reports that he had been radicalised by online propaganda by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Mr Evans said the officers did not have their guns drawn when they approached Mr Rahim. He said police have video showing Mr Rahim "coming at officers" while they are backing away.

That account differs from one given by Mr Rahim's brother Ibrahim Rahim, who said in a Facebook posting that his youngest brother was killed while waiting at a bus stop to go to his job.

"He was confronted by three Boston Police officers and subsequently shot in the back three times," he wrote. "He was on his cellphone with my dear father during the confrontation needing a witness."

Ibrahim Rahim, a former assistant imam at a Boston mosque, said he was travelling to Boston to bury his brother.

Late yesterday, the FBI arrested a man in connection with the case. Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for US attorney Carmen Ortiz, said David Wright was taken into custody from his home in suburban Everett.

She said Wright will face federal charges and is expected to appear in US District Court later today.

She would not specify the charges, but confirmed they were related to the Rahim investigation.

The Suffolk district attorney's office and the FBI said they will investigate Mr Rahim's shooting, a routine procedure for shootings involving police.

The Council of American-Islamic Relations will monitor the investigation, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

"We have a number of questions," Mr Hooper said. "Why exactly was he being followed? What was the probable cause for this particular stop? Were there any video cameras or body cameras of the incident? How do you reconcile the two versions of the story, the family version being that he was on his normal commute to work at a bus stop?"

Boston voter registration records for Usaama Rahim list him as a student. Records indicate that as recently as two years ago he was licensed as a security officer in Miami but do not specify in what capacity.

The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Centre said its security firm hired Mr Rahim as a security guard for a month in mid-2013.

Executive director Yusufi Vali said Mr Rahim did not regularly pray at the centre and did not volunteer there or serve in any leadership positions.

Authorities also were searching a home in Warwick, Rhode Island, but would not confirm that was linked to the Boston shooting.

The officer and the agent involved in the shooting were not physically injured but were evaluated at a hospital for what Evans described as "stress".

Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, said authorities "don't think there's any concern for public safety out there right now".

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