Two weeks ago in the Boston area, a 26-year-old black Muslim man was shot and killed by agents of the FBI and Boston Police Department (BPD). As we documented the following day, major media outlets immediately, breathlessly, and uncritically repeated law enforcement claims (often anonymous ones) about what happened: that the dead man, Usaamah Rahim, was on the verge of executing an “ISIS-inspired” or “ISIS-linked” plot to behead random police officers, in a conspiracy with at least two others. When Rahim was walking to work near a CVS drugstore at roughly 7:00 a.m., the officers approached Rahim simply to question him about this plot; in response, he pulled out a “machete” or “military-style knife” which he refused to drop, forcing the officers to shoot him dead.
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