U.S. law enforcement officials are again facing a situation in which they may encounter protests over the death of a 26-year-old man who tried to attack police.
Usaama Rahim, an alleged member of the Black Muslims, was “on foot, under surveillance” when he was stopped in the Roslindale section of Boston for questioning by police, according to Boston Police Commissioner William Evans.
Rahim, age 26, was under 24-hour surveillance, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi. Authorities were watching him as part of an investigation into a suspected Islamist terrorist ring. Rahim belonged to an ad hoc terror network, according to law enforcement sources quoted by CNN.
His older brother Ibrahim Rahim is an imam at the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California.
The task force had kept Rahim and two other people under surveillance for the past several years. They were believed to have been radicalized by Da’esh (ISIS) and other terrorist influences, a source said. Noticing a recent change in Rahim’s behavior – including threats against police on social media – the FBI reportedly resolved to approach him on Tuesday.
Rahim did not react well to that effort, which took place at 7 am in the parking lot of a CVS store. He suddenly turned with a large, military-style black knife in his hand and lunged at the officers and federal agents, police said. Boston Police Commissioner William Evans added that none of the officers had weapons drawn at that point. Instead, they retreated and ordered Rahim to put down the knife, warning they would fire.
“He turned and our officers gave several commands for him to drop the weapon; and unfortunately he came at the officers and they did what they were trained to do – and that’s never an easy decision for any officer to make,” said Evans.
“I think our officers tried their best with the FBI to try to convince him to put down the knife, but he didn’t leave us a choice,” said Evans. “When they confronted him to speak with him, he turned and came at the officers and unfortunately he was shot dead.”
According to Lisi, one FBI agent and one Boston Police Department officer fired. The shooting was captured on surveillance video, and was observed by witnesses as well. Rahim’s brother Ibrahim, who was educated in Saudi Arabia, had a completely different view of the situation, although he was not a witness. Within minutes he was tweeting that view on the Twitter and Facebook social networking sites. Leftists, right-wingers and like-minded activists were responding within minutes as well.
“Your prayers are requested: 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 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 “
On Facebook, the Muslim cleric added another post addressed to media several hours later: “We are deeply grieved by the loss of my younger brother. While we understand the need for information. We ask that the press give us time to grieve. We will have a statement once we have met as a family. Imam Ibrahim Rahim “
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, Linda Sarsour, commented on Facebook: “We learned this morning of the murder of Usaama Rahim, a Black Muslim brother from Boston. He was shot by Boston Police and FBI… 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.” Sarsour added a mammoth list of detailed legal questions designed to pinpoint exactly what took place, where and why.