Pamela Geller was hosting an art exhibit lampooning the Muslim prophet Muhammad, and the Islamic State wanted her dead.
David Wright and two companions volunteered to execute her.
It was spring 2015, and Wright, a 20-something from the Boston suburbs, had spent the better part of a year reading the terrorist group’s propaganda and talking with his uncle and a friend about their desire to kill the “kufar,” or nonbelievers, according to court documents. Geller was at the top of the list.
After communicating with an Islamic State member, the men met on a secluded beach in Rhode Island, where they hatched a plan to behead the conservative blogger, known for her strident criticism of Islam. Wright’s uncle, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, had purchased three military-style knives, each more than a foot long, and Wright had researched firearms and human tranquilizers online, prosecutors said. The third member of the group, Nicholas Rovinski, had read up on saws and chopping tools.
But the plan never materialized. Rahim, eager for martyrdom, was fatally shot several days later when he drew one of his knives on law enforcement officers in Boston. The FBI had been monitoring him, and an easy trail of evidence led agents back to Wright and Rovinski, who were arrested shortly after.
On Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced Wright to 28 years in prison for his role in the plot to murder Geller, after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to support the Islamic State and other charges. Rovinski, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and testified against Wright, is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have asked for a 15-year sentence.
In the Boston courtroom, Wright, now 28, sobbed as he apologized to Geller and denounced the Islamic State, according to the Associated Press.
“Nothing I can say can fix the hurt I caused,” he said. “I sincerely hope that I can be given the opportunity to help others avoid the mistakes I made.”