Authorities have arrested a third suspect in a Boston terror attack plot. It was foiled last week, when law officers shot attacker Usaamah Rahim dead.
Officers took Nicholas Rovinski of Warwick, Rhode Island, into custody without incident Thursday night, said Boston FBI spokeswoman Kristen Setera. They had previously questioned him and searched his home.
Rovinski was a friend of Rahim’s, and the FBI suspected that he and a third man, David Wright, encouraged Rahim to carry out an attack with knives.
Authorities had been bugging Rahim’s conversations, and on Tuesday last week, Boston police and FBI agents moved to stop him, fearing his attack was imminent. When the officers confronted him, Rahim pulled a knife, and after they initially backed away from him, officers fired upon the attacker, killing him.
Law enforcement believed Rahim and the other two men had been radicalized by ISIS and initially made plans for him to behead a conservative blogger. But Rahim switched targets and decided to knife police officers instead, because they were more accessible, the FBI has said.
Authorities arrested Wright shortly after Rahim’s death, and he was charged with obstruction.
During questioning, Wright waved his Miranda rights and spoken openly with police, the FBI has said. In his arrest affidavit, Rovinski is not named but described as attending a meeting on May 31 with Rahim and Wright on a beach in Rhode Island, where the three discussed “their plans,” including the idea of beheading controversial blogger Pamela Geller.
Sources told CNN that Rovinski is the third man described in the Wright affidavit. CNN previously reported on the individual but decided not to name him because he hadn’t been arrested at the time.
The affidavit also said that on the day before that beach meeting, Rahim told Wright via text that he had spoken with the unnamed individual and now “they had a lot to talk about.”
CNN contact with Rovinski
In March, Rovinski had shared his Islamist extremist beliefs and motivation to act on them with CNN.
A producer exchanged messages with Rovinski, and during the conversation, the Rhode Island resident described exchanges with an alleged ISIS fighter who urged him to come to Iraq and Syria and join the terrorist group.
The communications were part of research into Americans identifying with jihadists online. Rovinski told CNN he considered following the fighter’s call.
On his Twitter account, the Rhode Island resident spoke out against the United States: “Living amung (sic) the enemy.”
“Who wishes to see flag of tawheed upon white house,” he wrote on March 28. Tawheed, a fundamental principle and saying of Islam, is also a favorite inscription on jihadi flags — namely ISIS and al Qaeda.
In an online conversation, he said, “I am not violent at heart but push the wrong button and its (sic) not pretty.”
On his Twitter account were messages directed at people connected with ISIS, including Mujahid Miski, the online alias of Mohamed Abdullahi Hasan, a former Minnesotan believed to be fighting with Al Shabaab in Somalia.
Miski had also been in direct contact with Alan Simpson, one of the two shooters in the Texas attack on Geller’s “Draw Your Own Mohammed” event in May.
Rovinski told CNN in the online exchanges that he would attend services at a mosque near his home but said he never shared his fundamentalist interpretation of Islam with his imam. Prior to his conversion to Islam, he said he was agnostic, but sought “truth and guidance” and found Islam.