We're informed that the FBI killed a terrorism suspect yesterday in the Roslindale section of Boston after the suspect brandished a knife:
A man under surveillance by antiterrorism investigators was shot and killed Tuesday by an F.B.I. agent and a Boston police officer after he waved a long black knife at them and refused to back down, officials said.However, this account -- that Rahim pulled a knife after being approached by officers whose weapons were still holstered -- has been disputed:
The man, Usaama Rahim, 26, was approached by officers outside a CVS pharmacy in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood around 7 a.m. Officials said he confronted them with a military-style knife and the two officers opened fire.
The Boston police commissioner, William Evans, said the officers asked Mr. Rahim several times to drop his weapon, and they felt endangered as he approached. “Unfortunately, we had to take his life.” Mr. Evans said the encounter had been captured on video, which he said, showed the officers retreating before opening fire....
In a post on Facebook, Ibrahim Rahim, an imam from California, identified the dead man as his brother. He said his brother had been waiting for a bus when “he was confronted by three Boston Police officers and subsequently shot in the back three times.”I bring this up because there was another recent case based in the Boston area, a case seemingly linked to terrorism, in which a Boston-based FBI agent shot and killed a suspect who, we were initially told, suddenly pulled a knife on several law enforcement officials.
“He was on his cellphone with my dear father during the confrontation needing a witness,” he wrote on Facebook. “His last words to my father who heard the shots were: ‘I can’t breathe!’”
That suspect was Ibragim Todashev, who was being questioned in connection with a murder that may have been committed by Tamerlan Tsarnaev a couple of years before the Boston Marathon bombing. We were subsequently told that, no, Todashev didn't pull a knife exactly, although the story kept changing, as The Atlantic's Dashiell Bennett noted in 2013:
Law enforcement officials are still trying to explain how a supposedly peaceful interview with an important witness in the Boston bombing case turned into a deadly shooting, but as usual, every new attempt to explain the death of Ibragim Todashev only raises more troubling questions.I'm not arguing that there's a connection between these two cases. I just wonder if "he came at us with a knife" is the go-to explanation for shootings by FBI agents, or at least Boston-based ones.
After originally accusing the suspect and potential murderous accomplice of Boston bomber Tamleran Tsarnaev of attacking an FBI agent with a knife, and then walking back that claim entirely, an new anonymous source says Todashev, may have injured the agent with a table and a metal pole. Or maybe not.
Here's the way the attack was described in The New York Times. Everyone seems to agree that after several hours of interrogation, Todashev was prepared to confess to an unsolved murder that he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were connected to. Then thing get a lot less clear:
At that moment, Mr. Todashev picked up the table and threw it at the agent, knocking him to the ground. While trying to stand up, the agent, who suffered a wound to his face from the table that required stitches, drew his gun and saw Mr. Todashev running at him with a metal pole, according to the official, adding that it might have been a broomstick.So not only has the story changed again, it has now changed twice in the same sentence. The weapon has no gone from nothing to a knife, back to nothing to a table to a metal pole to a broomstick.
In the current case, many news reports are accompanied by a photo of a scary-looking knife.
Though that doesn't prove that Rahim actually waved it at the officers.
It would be nice to see the video the FBI talks about. I wonder if it will ever be released.
The fact that the Todashev story seems really hinky doesn't mean that the Rahim story is inaccurate. I'm just pointing out the similarities.
UPDATE: The Boston Globe reports:
The surveillance video of the fatal shooting of Usaama Rahim by members of an anti-terror task force shows that he was not shot in the back and was not on his cellphone, contrary to an account posted on Facebook by his brother, a community leader said Wednesday after reviewing it with law enforcement officials.(Hat tip: Never Ben Better in comments.)
“What the video does reveal to us, very clearly, is that the individual was not on the cellphone. The individual was not shot in the back. And the information reported by others that that was the case was inaccurate," said Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League....
Abdullah Faaruuq of the Mosque for the Praising of Allah said the video was “inconclusive" and that it was not clear to him that Rahim was armed with a knife, as authorities allege, at the moment he was shot.
However, Faaruuq agreed that it was clear that Rahim was not shot in the back and that officers were backing up.
“It wasn’t at a bus stop and he wasn’t shot in the back,” he said.
“However, we couldn’t see clearly at all exactly to answer the question whether he was brandishing a knife or not. It was like 1/20th of the overall frame. It was very far away. So we can’t be clear as to what transpired," he said.