The Everett man convicted of terrorism-related charges should spend the rest of his life behind bars because he “disavowed his own country” and transformed himself into a “soldier of ISIS” determined to kill as many Americans as he could, federal prosecutors wrote.
David Daoud Wright was convicted in US District Court in Boston of conspiring to support a terrorist organization, conspiring to commit acts of terrorism beyond national boundaries, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Wright, according to federal prosecutors, was in direct contact with an Islamic State recruiter in Syria, actively recruited his uncle and one other man to join his terror cell, and plotted the beheading of Pamela Geller, a controversial critic of Islam, from 2014 until his arrest in 2015.
“Homegrown violent extremists represent one of the most serious threats to America,’’ prosecutors wrote. “Wright is a terrorist.’’
Wright was convicted of encouraging his 26-year-old uncle, Usaamah Rahim, to arm himself with a fighting knife on June 2, 2015, with the intention of killing any “boys in blue” Rahim encountered, on behalf of the Islamic State.
Rahim was fatally shot during a confrontation with Boston police officers and FBI agents in Roslindale before he attacked anyone.
“Rahim, manipulated by the words of the defendant, attacked the police and was killed,’’ prosecutors wrote.
“But for the actions of the FBI and the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, innocent lives would likely have been lost on June 2, 2015,” prosecutors added.
Rahim and Nicholas Rovinski of Warwick, R.I., together plotted the attack on Geller, which never came to fruition. Rovinski has pleaded guilty and testified against Wright during the trial, which ended in October.
Wright took the stand in his own defense and admitted to having contact with the Islamic State but insisted it was the actions of a lonely, overweight, 28-year-old man still living with his mother who engaged in “fantastical” thinking, not proof that he was a committed Islamic State terrorist.
“It was never real for me,’’ Wright told jurors from the stand.
Defense attorneys for Wright have filed paperwork asking US District Court Judge William G. Young, who presided over the trial, to throw out four of the convictions and order a new trial for the former Everett man.
Young, the defense argued, wrongly allowed jurors to listen to hearsay information and had failed to provide enough evidence that Wright was plotting to kill Geller or carry out other terrorist actions around the country.
In response, federal prosecutors wrote that Wright was fairly tried and the defense request for a new trial “is without merit.”
Federal prosecutors contend that Wright perjured himself when he testified under oath, and that he was still following Islamic State terror strategy by pretending to disavow his commitment while secretly retaining it wholeheartedly.
“More than two years after causing the death of his own uncle and endangering lives of innocent Americans, the defendant still has not accepted responsibility for his own actions,’’ prosecutors wrote.
“Even now, after the jury rejected his claims, Wright still incredibly maintains that he was only playing some kind of terrorist role playing game with his uncle. Wright is seeking to deceive this court,” prosecutors added.
Prosecutors called on Young, who will handle sentencing now set for Dec. 19, to impose the maximum sentence on Wright.
They noted that two “homegrown violent extremists” attacked New York City in October, killing eight and wounding more.
“The sentence imposed by the court should send a clear and unequivocal message: if you plot to kill Americans and provide material support to ISIS, you will receive the maximum sentence available under the law,’’ the prosecutors wrote.