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Prosecutors Say Terror Suspect Nicholas Rovinski Plotted Beheadings From Jail

A Rhode Island man awaiting trial on terrorism charges was plotting with others — from behind bars — to behead people in the U.S., federal prosecutors said Thursday.

A superseding indictment said Nicholas Rovinski, arrested last June and charged with plotting ISIS-inspired attacks, "has attempted to recruit people to assist" in carrying out a plan "to commit violent attacks in the United States and to decapitate non-believers."

Image: Nicholas Rovinski in court with his attorney
In this courtroom sketch, Nicholas Rovinski, second from right, is depicted standing with his attorney William Fick, right, as Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell, left, presides during a hearing on June 12, 2015, in federal court in Boston. Jane Flavell Collins via AP, file

He was one of three New England men accused of plotting to behead a New York woman, Pamela Geller, who organized last year's Draw Muhammad contest in Texas.

The FBI said one of the men, Usaamah Rahim of Roslindale, Massachusetts, later changed his mind and decided to attack police in Boston. He was shot and killed last June as he prepared to board a bus armed with a long knife.

FBI officials said wiretaps picked up Rahim telling the third man in the plot, David Wright of Everett, Massachusetts, that he decided to "go after the boys in blue." Rahim was Wright's uncle.

Prosecutors said Rovinski met Wright online and that the three men began talking with Rahim about the need to commit violent acts in support of ISIS. The FBI said they formulated their plan last May to attack Geller and discussed it in detail on a secluded beach in Rhode Island two days before Rahim was shot and killed.

Law enforcement officials have said Rahim also considered staging an attack on Boston's July Fourth celebration on the Esplanade.

Thursday's indictment did not provide details on how Rovinski tried to recruit people while in jail, but it says he "wrote letters to Wright describing ways they could continue to execute their plans to take down the United States government and decapitate non-believers."

Prosecutors also said Wright drafted documents for what he called a "martyrdom operations cell" and searched the Internet for information about weapons. Among his search queries, according to the indictment, where "Which tranquilizer puts humans to sleep instantly" and "how to start a secret militia in [the] US."

Rovinski and Wright have pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism and obstruction of justice and are scheduled to go on trial next February.