Mass. man convicted of plotting to behead blogger for ISIS

David Wright being taken into custody at his home in Everett June 2, 2015.

CBS Boston

BOSTON -- A Massachusetts man who authorities say fell under the influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was convicted Wednesday of plotting to behead a conservative American blogger for organizing a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest. 

Jurors found David Wright guilty of all charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries. 

The 28-year-old faces up to life in prison. 

Prosecutors said Wright, his uncle and a third man conspired to kill blogger Pamela Geller because they were upset she organized Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas in 2015. During the contest, two other men opened fire outside and wounded a security guard before they were killed in a shootout with law enforcement assigned to guard the event. 

Wright's uncle, Ussamah Rahim, told Wright on a recorded phone call later that month that he couldn't wait to attack Geller and decided instead to go after "those boys in blue," referring to police. Wright told his uncle that was "beautiful" and encouraged him to delete all the data from his computer before carrying out his attack. 

Hours later, Rahim was shot and killed by authorities after he lunged at them with a knife when they approached him in Boston. The attack on Geller, who has spearheaded scores of events across the nation to decry Islamic extremism, was never carried out. She didn't testify at the trial. 

Wright cried on the stand when he spoke of his uncle, insisting that he didn't think Rahim was serious about the attack. Wright, who was more than 500 pounds and spent much of his time playing video games in 2015, testified that he used ISIS propaganda to get attention but was just playing a role and never wanted to commit violence. 

"I didn't want my uncle to get hurt. I didn't want law enforcement to get hurt," Wright said. "I lost someone who was very close to me because I was so deluded and self-centered that I couldn't see beyond my own need for attention." 

Prosecutors said Wright was the leader of the conspiracy and recruited his uncle and others to help him wage war on the U.S. Wright's uncle received directions about the plan to kill Geller from Junaid Hussain, an ISIS member and hacker who was later killed in an airstrike in Syria, prosecutors said. 

Wright conducted online research for guns, swords and tranquilizers that put people to sleep instantly. He created a Twitter page seeking recruits for their "martyrdom operation cell," collected a trove of horrific ISIS documents and videos and created a manifesto warning that America's "days are numbered," prosecutors said. Wright's uncle bought three large knives -- one for each of them -- for their attack on Geller, authorities say, including a marine fighting knife with a 10-inch blade, as well as a knife sharpener.

Rahim, who was under surveillance, called David Wright the day after ordering the knife. The FBI recorded the call and believe the men were speaking in code about a plot to kill.

"I just got myself a nice little tool...it's good for carving wood and like, you know, carving sculptures," Rahim told Wright. 

Wright "was committed to ISIS, and knew exactly what he was doing," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann told jurors. 

The third man accused in the plot, Nicholas Rovinski, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy charges and faces 15 to 22 years in prison. Rovinski, of Warwick, Rhode Island, testified against Wright, telling jurors that Wright said Geller "deserved to be beheaded" because she insulted Mohammad.