U.S. man to plead guilty to conspiring to help Islamic State

September 20, 2016 3:01 PM EDT

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By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Rhode Island man charged last year with plotting to behead Massachusetts police officers in support of the Islamic State militant group is due to plead guilty to conspiracy charges this week, according to court papers on Tuesday.

Nicholas Rovinski, 25, was arrested last year along with his friend David Wright, 26, of Massachusetts, and charged with plotting with Wright's uncle, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, who was shot dead by law enforcement agents in Boston last year when he threatened them with a knife.

The two men face charges including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

In a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday, Judge William Young scheduled a "rule 11" hearing for Rovinski on Thursday. Rovinski had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges. Rule 11 sets out the basic law on plea bargaining.

The filing did not make clear which of the charges Rovinski was prepared to plead guilty to.

"Nicholas Rovinski is a vulnerable young man who fell deep into a rabbit hole of extremist ideology. Although he never hurt anyone, Nicholas is prepared to accept personal responsibility for the conspiracy crimes charged and to face the grave penalties that will follow," said William Fick, Rovinski's attorney, in an e-mailed statement.

Fick added that his client had disavowed any sympathy for Islamic State.

Wright has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Federal prosecutors contend that Rahim and Wright had been planning an attack on police but that Rahim snapped in June 2015, telling his nephew, "I'm just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue."

Rahim's family denied that he had shown any signs of radicalization.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Leslie Adler and James Dalgleish)

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