|Aftermath of the Tuesday shooting outside a Boston suburban|
CVS pharmacy [Image Source]
The man who was shot is now known to be Usaamah Abdullah Rahim. The media currently feature a spate of news reports headlining open-ended questions, like "Boston terror suspect's shooting: What we know and don't know" from CNN. For the less disingenuous among us, there is actually quite a lot we do know.
Very shortly after the shooting, on Tuesday, the dead man's brother posted this on Facebook (it's still there now, and archived):
"Your Prayers RequestedGoogle that post and it's evident that huge numbers of people have commented on it, re-posted it and seen it. At the Boston Globe, they call Imam Ibrahim Rahim "a well-known imam" and "well-respected". His personal website explains that the Imam's educational qualifications and training are Saudi Arabian; he lived there for some years. His favourite saying is "Traveling Through A Strange Place, On My Way Back To Allah".
This morning while at the bus stop in Boston, my youngest brother Usaama Rahim was waiting for the bus to go to his job. He was confronted by three Boston Police officers and subsequently shot in the back three times. He was on was on his cell phone with my dear father during the confrontation needing a witness. His last words to my father who heard the shots were:
I can’t breathe!
While at the hospital, Usaama Rahim died!
From Allah we come, and to Allah we return.
Imam Ibrahim Rahim"
That Facebook post of his has been exquisitely politely termed "a version of the shooting at odds with the official version". It certainly is that.
Two days later, it appears the testimony of the brother, the Imam, even on his own terms, is not what it seemed, He has "stepped back from initial claims he made". Standing "in front of a throng of media in the same parking lot" where his brother had been stopped by police on Tuesday, he "didn’t speak, but [the family's lawyer] told reporters that he regrets his comments and that there’s still a lot left to learn about what happened".
As for the factual, evidentiary basis for the widely published plea he had issued on Tuesday, the explanation is rudimentary, and not too apologetic:
He heard what he believed to be his brother’s last moments from a third party, and in his grief, posted it to social media. "The family wants to be very careful to not engage in rank speculation,” said Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor. “What the family wants is to enter into a joint relationship with the investigators to get to the truth." [Source]Better late than never.
|This is the knife, one of 3 said to have been bought online by Rahim,|
in the previous week, that was removed from the scene of the
Boston shooting [Image Source]
deceased, is quite a lot, though not enough:
- "Initially" he wanted to to cut off the head of a blogger, Pamela Geller.
- He then "switched targets", to police officers, because Why? Their heads were "easier to access". "I'm just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue," an FBI agent involved in the investigation said in an affidavit" [Reuters].
- He was "under round-the-clock surveillance" by "terrorism investigators" for "some time".
- According to a local Congressman, US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat: "I’m not sure what red-flagged him, but I think it went back... the FBI was looking at him going back to 2012" [source]
- The circumstances: On Tuesday morning, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force - one a police officer, one an FBI agent - approached Rahim. He "confronted the investigators after they identified themselves as law enforcement and asked him to stop and talk outside a CVS pharmacy in the city's Roslindale neighborhood at about 7 a.m. Tuesday. The man was on foot."
- He had been employed in that CVS store since March 2015 [source].
- Police say he "lunged at them with a menacing military knife".
- Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, speaking to reporters, says "officers asked him several times to put the knife down". Evans said the armed man "refused orders... to drop his weapon [a hunting knife] before the officer and agent both opened fire [Mashable].
- What happened next was captured on surveillance video which law enforcement officials showed to community and religious leaders at Boston police headquarters [source].
- "The police officer and the FBI agent fired three shots, according to a police spokesman; two hit Rahim in the front of his torso. Rahim was pronounced dead at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The officer and agent were taken to hospitals to be examined for stress..." [source]
- NBC News, June 4, 2015, quotes Boston Police Commissioner William Evans speaking on NBC's TODAY: the terrorism plot was "very real" and "very dangerous"...
- Public statements were made by those seeing the video [source]. Darnell Williams, head of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said afterwards that the man was not shot in the back, and was not speaking to anyone on a cell phone as the investigators approached him, Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, another viewer, confirmed this but says the video was "inconclusive" about the confrontation: "We couldn’t see clearly if he was brandishing a knife or not.".
- This Imam Faaruq is also quoted [here on video] saying he does not think the police wanted to arrest the suspect "and keep him alive... I don't think that whatever transpired warranted him being killed... murdered."
- A woman who says she knew the dead man "described him as a highly observant Muslim who married a young convert a couple of years ago. They attended the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center but stopped going, also about two years ago. They told her they thought the mosque was too liberal..." [source]
- The dead man was just one of three people in this particular police investigation. They were watching two of his suspected associates. One, David Wright, 25, is Rahim's nephew. "Wright indicated that he agreed with Rahim's plan and supported it," according to an FBI affidavit. Wright "is accused of destroying Rahim's smartphone to conceal evidence of their plan" and is being charged.
- The second associate is not yet identified.
- Rahim’s neighbor told The Boston Globe Rahim "was a kind man who lived with his wife in an apartment on Blue Ledge Drive... "He was sweet. I saw a sweetness [to] him... Who knows what was in his head?" [source]
- Arab American Association of New York: Linda Sarsour, its executive director, speaking of the surveillance video, says "I don’t know what it shows or doesn’t show. Questions still remain." She says [Telegraph UK, June 4, 2015] that "the dead man was black, not Middle Eastern as some reports claimed". And on her Facebook page, she goes further, calling what happened "the murder of Usaama Rahim, a Black Muslim brother from Boston. He was shot by Boston Police and FBI. Before you post the media's perspective or government's - there are many unanswered questions. They have added a national security component to divide and conquer the movement. At the end of the day, a Black man was shot on a bus stop on his way to work and we should treat this like any other case of police violence. All we want is answers to our questions..."
- Ummah Wide ("a digital media startup focused on stories and cultures that transcend the global borders and boundaries of the Muslim, Interfaith and Human family"): Its executive editor Dustin Craun writes "Usaama Rahim, #479 Killed by US Police in 2015 & the First Victim to Be Instantly Named a Terrorist... Unfortunately, this case is also another example of how far media outlets will go to fit police narratives". And this: "Boston has a long history of spying and policing African Amerian communities more than any other community in Boston, so it is not surprising that the African American Muslim community would become the focus of local FBI & Boston PD spying."
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): Ibrahim Hooper, its spokesman, asks "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?” [TIME Magazine, June 2, 2015]
- CAIR's Civil Rights Litigation director issued a statement that included this: "It is our duty to question every police-involved shooting to determine if the use of deadly force was necessary, particularly given the recent high profile shootings of African-American men. We are asking for an independent and thorough investigation..."
- A woman who says she is Rahim's aunt and who identified herself only as Karen said to reporters yesterday (Thursday): "There was no plot. There was no scheming... As you all know, with the current slaughter of black men that's going on across the nation, that's enough to make any black man feel threatened... There's a lot of black men and black people that are angry at the cops and putting things out on social media about the cops... When you add Islam, everybody in the media wants to put 'terrorism' in there." [NBC News, June 4, 2015]
- The family lawyer: "We’d simply ask that you respect this born and bred American family... They have lost someone and whatever you think he may or may not have done, they lost a loved one. They are grieving..." [Boston Globe, June 4, 2015]
- Ismail Abdurrashid from the Mosque for the Praising of Allah, Roxbury, MA [Boston Herald, June 4, 2015]: "He enjoyed studying his religion... He was very studious. There’s nothing about him that would have struck me or anyone from amongst us to be odd... He sometimes sat in the front row for Friday sermon at the Roxbury mosque. He wore the traditional Sunnah dress and a long beard... He was a very typical, American young adult... the all-American boy..."
[H]e did little to hide his extreme views, which may have developed in South Florida. “Usaamah was tuned in a lot with online Islam,” said Yahya Abdullah Rivero, who attended mosque with Mr. Rahim in Miami. “He kept an ear to everything that was mentioned about Islam online. I know he used to listen to some extreme imams online” ...[He and Wright] maintained Facebook pages under assumed names where they posted photos of Islamic militants and “liked” the pages of radical clerics, strict Islamic law and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL... Mr. Rahim appears to have posted under the name Abu Sufyaan on a page where he “liked” the Islamic State in Iraq in 2012, and also “liked” radical clerics, Sharia law and guns... Mr. Rahim was the youngest of five siblings. His older brother Ibrahim told The Boston Globe in 2007 that their father, Abdullah Rahman Rahim, joined the Nation of Islam in 1974, then converted to mainstream Islam in 1978.
“I can’t breathe” were the last words of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man selling cigarettes who was put in a chokehold by a New York police officer and died last year. Those words have been a rallying cry of protesters in cases of black men killed by police.