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Man gets 28 years in plot to behead right wing blogger

  • FILE - In this June 19, 2015, file, courtroom sketch, David Wright, second from left, is depicted standing before Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell, left, with attorney Jessica Hedges, second from right, and Nicholas Rovinski, right, during a hearing in federal court in Boston. Prosecutors will ask the judge on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, in Boston to sentence 28-year-old Wright to life in prison for his role in the plot to kill Pamela Geller. The plot was never carried out. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP, File) Jane Flavell Collins

  • Blogger Pamela Geller arrives Tuesday at federal court in Boston for the sentencing hearing for David Wright. ap photo



Associated Press
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

BOSTON — A man convicted of leading an Islamic State-inspired plot to behead a conservative blogger who upset Muslims when she organized a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest was sentenced on Tuesday to 28 years in prison.

David Wright sobbed as he apologized to blogger Pamela Geller, law enforcement and his family and denounced the terror group, whose horrific acts he used to celebrate online.

“Nothing I can say can fix the hurt I caused,” the 28-year-old Wright said. “I sincerely hope that I can be given the opportunity to help others avoid the mistakes I made.”

Wright was convicted in October of conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State group, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries and other crimes.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Wright, arguing it would send a strong message to others considering terror attacks in the U.S. But Judge William G. Young said he was uncomfortable with sending Wright away for life, telling him: “You are not a monster, yet you embraced a monstrous evil.”

Prosecutors portrayed Wright, who’s from Everett, just north of Boston, as the ringleader of the conspiracy to kill Geller, who has spearheaded scores of events across the nation to decry Islamic extremism. The cartoon contest Geller organized in Garland, Texas, in 2015 ended in gunfire, with two Muslim gunmen shot to death by police.

The plot to behead Geller, of New York, was never carried out. Instead, Wright’s uncle Ussamah Rahim told Wright on a recorded phone call that he decided 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 fatally shot by authorities after he lunged at them with a knife when they approached him in Boston.

Geller, who spoke at Wright’s sentencing, urged the judge to sentence him to life and said it was “impossible to overstate the devastation” he had brought to her life. Geller said she had been forced to live in fear and spend tens of thousands of dollars on security.

Prosecutors said Wright collected dozens of gruesome Islamic State videos and documents that encouraged violence against Americans, including a manifesto that said America’s days are “numbered.” In court documents, they accused him of trying to “deceive” the court into believing that he never meant any harm.

Wright, who weighed more than 500 pounds when he was arrested, testified during the trial that he started sharing Islamic State propaganda because he was desperate for attention and an escape. But he said the plan to kill Geller was just “trash talk” and claimed he never believed his uncle was serious about attacking police.