Two New England men, inspired by militant Islamic terrorist group ISIS, were sentenced this week for a plot to behead a right-wing blogger who organized a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Twenty-seven-year-old Nicholas Rovinski of Warwick, Rhode Island was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday morning, according to WPRI. His conviction follows the Tuesday sentencing of David Wright, 28, of Everett, Massachusetts, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in the murder plot of Pamela Geller, as reported by CBS Boston.
Wright, Rovinski and Wright’s uncle Usaamah Rahim concocted the plot to kill Geller after she helped organize the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" in Garland, Texas in 2015. Artistic representations of the Prophet Mohamed are considered blasphemous to fundamentalist Muslims, and the event was planned in response to the attacks on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo four months earlier. The contest ended in gunfire after two men inspired by ISIS began shooting at the convention center where it was located and were killed by law enforcement officers.
Following the event, ISIS took to social media, telling followers to “Kill Those That Insult the Prophet,” according to The Washington Post. Soon after, Rahim and Wright met with Rovinski, whom they first encountered online, and plotted to behead Geller, emulating the practice by which ISIS spread its bloody message on the world wide web. According to FOX News, prosecutors say Rahim was in touch with Junaid Hussain, a hacker and member of ISIS, who was in contact with the Texas gunmen. Hussain was killed by a 2015 drone strike in Syria.
Unfortunately for Rahim, the FBI had been listening in. After he grew impatient and told his nephew he planned to behead one of the “boys in blue,” authorities decided to make their move and confronted him in a parking lot in Boston. When Rahim lunged at officers with a large knife, they shot him dead. Wright and Rovinski were later arrested on terrorism charges, with Rovinski agreeing to testify against Wright in court.
At his sentencing Tuesday, Wright cried aloud in court, saying he rejected ISIS and asking Geller for forgiveness.
“I reject everything that ISIS stands for and represents,” he said, as reported by the Boston Herald. Geller, who was in attendance to give a victim’s statement, said she was “not moved by his sobbing.” In rendering his sentence, US District Judge William G. Young said, “You are not a monster, yet you embraced a monstrous evil.”
Rovinski’s sentencing Wednesday followed a similar pattern, with the former aspiring terrorist now renouncing ISIS and choking back tears.
“I’m striving to be a new man,” he said in court, adding, “I accept responsibility for my actions.”
In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors asked for the minimum sentence against Rovinski, who suffers from cerebral palsy. In addition, he will receive time off his 15-year sentence for time served.
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