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Evans: Talk of Geller as terror target likely ‘wishful thinking’

Political blogger Pamela Geller has drawn national attention for her criticism of radical Muslims.
Political blogger Pamela Geller has drawn national attention for her criticism of radical Muslims.Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

Usaama Rahim, the terror suspect killed by police in Roslindale Tuesday, was likely engaging in "wishful thinking" if he discussed targeting anti-Islam political activist Pamela Geller, Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said Thursday in a television appearance.

Investigators now believe that Rahim planned to murder police officers in the Boston area before he was shot to death by authorities in a confrontation in Roslindale.

"There was some mention of that name, but, you know, we were focused locally here. He had local roots, so our concern was what he could do here," Evans said in an interview with the Today show..


Geller has drawn national attention for her criticism of Islam. Two men opened fire last month at an event that she hosted in Garland, Texas, inviting people to present cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Law enforcement officials shot and killed both men.

Geller spoke in a separate interview Thursday on CNN, which first reported on Rahim's alleged interest in her. She said she is now under round-the-clock guard, but won't be deterred from her efforts to challenge Islamic extremists after the latest case.

She believes Rahim was plotting to behead her.

"Well, clearly I am under 24-hour guard now, so that's a dramatic change,'' Geller told CNN's Chris Cuomo during a spirited interview.

It was not clear from the conversation whether Geller is under guard as a direct result of the alleged Boston plot or due to the Texas attack.

"They are going to come for you, too, Chris,'' Geller told Cuomo. "They are going to come for everybody. And the media should be standing with me.''

Rahim, who had been under 24-hour surveillance, was allegedly holding a combat knife when he approached members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force seeking to speak with him. Officials say he refused to drop his weapon or back away before he was shot. The use of deadly force is under investigation by Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley's office.


Also accused in the Rahim case is his nephew, David Wright, of Everett.

Wright was arrested by federal agents and is now being held without bail after being charged in US District Court in Boston with obstructing an investigation by urging his uncle to destroy information on his cellphone. Wright has pleaded not guilty.

Two hours before being shot, Rahim and Wright talked on the telephone, a conversation that was recorded by law enforcement agents.

Rahim told Wright he was shifting his plans from attacking someone out of state – now alleged to be Geller – to attacking "boys in blue'' in Massachusetts.

Geller said she would not be swayed by the threats against her life. "I don't care if you worship a stone, just don't use the stone, just don't stone me with it,'' Geller said. "I have a problem with the sharia [Islamic law] and I have a problem with jihad. ... I will not abridge my First Amendment rights.''

The Rev. Mark V. Scott, of the Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester, was also interviewed on CNN. He said Geller's claim that she was part of a "showdown for American freedom'' was wrong.

Scott said he respected Geller's right to free speech, but said her activism has been inflammatory rather than conciliatory.


"The idea of beheading someone, or attacking someone or physically assaulting them for their exercise of free speech is clearly wrong,'' Scott said. "But with freedom comes responsibility.''

Scott said that "there is a very rich, vibrant, diverse Muslim community here in Boston'' and the better approach is to learn from them why Muslims object to any physical representation of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

"We don't do that by poking a stick in somebody's eye,'' Scott said.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.