The brother of a terrorism suspect killed by police today claimed that the slain man’s last words were that of a campaign against police brutality.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters that the Joint Terrorism Task Force had been watching Usaama Rahim, 26, of Roslindale for about two years. He was reportedly part of a larger network of ISIS recruits and sympathizers.
He was confronted this morning at a bus stop 7 a.m. by officials. Evans said he brandished a “large military knife” at officers and showed a photo of the weapon.
After Rahim didn’t drop the knife, a police officer and a federal agent shot him. He was struck once in the torso and once in the abdomen, and died from his wounds.
“This is an investigation that’s been going on for some time by the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” Evans said, adding that “both the FBI and Boston Police did everything they could do to get the individual to drop his knife.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said the investigation into whether the use of force was justified to protect the lives of the officers or others is “just beginning.” The confrontation was reportedly captured on video.
The suspect’s brother, Ibrahim Rahim, is an imam who graduated from the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia and lists his employer as “The Ministry of Imam Ibrahim Rahim.”
“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!” Rahim wrote on his Facebook page. “While at the hospital, Usaama Rahim died! From Allah we come, and to Allah we return.”
Several hours later, the imam posted: “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.”
“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.
Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association of New York, wrote on her Facebook page that “the media’s perspective or government’s” should be questioned.
“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,” Sarsour wrote.
“Law enforcement says he was under surveillance (being monitored). 1) how long was he being monitored, 2) what was the basis of the monitoring, 3) what supervisory approval was their for the monitoring, 4) the duration of it, 5) which law enforcement agency set it up, 6) where else did the surveillance lead them that day? The last question I ask is because of how early this was. Did he go somewhere for Fajr? Did they surveil a place of worship?” she continued. “…Is this common counter-terrorism practice? You just stroll up to someone on a bus stop or in front of a CVS to question him? That’s what law enforcement is saying they did.”