Terror Probe: FBI clears Warwick neighborhood

(Brian Yocono/WPRI)

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — After blocking off a Wawick neighborhood for more than 24 hours, police and FBI involved in an anti-terrorism investigation have cleared the scene on Aspinet Drive.

Shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, a line of unmarked cars with FBI personnel left and police removed barricades.

As first reported on WPRI.com, agents from the FBI and investigators with the Rhode Island State Police converged on a home in Warwick’s Governor Francis Farms neighborhood Tuesday morning.

FBI spokeswoman Kristen Setera confirmed for Target 12 that the FBI and Rhode Island State Police were conducting court-authorized activity as part of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. She also confirmed, despite other media reports, that no one was arrested or in custody connected to the Warwick investigation. While she declined to comment further, due to the ongoing investigation, Setera did reiterate that there was no threat to public safety.

After police left the neighborhood, a woman inside the home that was searched told  reporters to “go away.”

A neighbor on Aspinet Drive told Target 12 she did see investigators removing boxes from the home in question. Other neighbors said the person who appeared to be the focus of the investigation converted to Islam a couple of years ago.

Safety Guide: Know the Signs of Terrorism >>
Safety Guide: Know the Signs of Terrorism »

The Target 12 investigators learned that the Warwick investigation is connected to a man who was shot and killed by police in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston.

Usaamah Rahim, 26, was under 24-hour surveillance by FBI authorities before he was said to have lunged at police with a large military-type knife, causing authorities to shoot and kill the man. Police said he was planning an attack on law enforcement officers and may have been radicalized by ISIS.

Later on Tuesday, police were on the lookout for two other suspects in relation to Rahim. Police took into custody David Wright after raiding his home in Everett, Mass. While in Warwick, officials remain tight-lipped about the active scene.

“The FBI and RI State Police are conducting court authorized activity as part of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. Due to the ongoing investigation, the FBI is going to have to decline further comment. We reiterate what we said yesterday, there is no threat to public safety,” said FBI spokeswoman Kristen Setera.

Eyewitness News also spoke with a man who said he lives across the street from the home in question, and that he knows a 20-year-old man lives there.

“He used to be a good kid,” said Brandon Waterman, “and then you noticed he just kind of set off and changed a little bit.”

Residents of the neighborhood were caught off guard by all the police presence.

“When I first saw the patrol car coming when I was running around today, I just thought it was construction or something,” said Chris Anderson.

Handmade fort found in the woods near Aspinet Drive
Handmade fort found in the woods near Aspinet Drive

Investigators asked residents to show them a location in the woods nearby. About 200 yards off Aspinet Drive, a winding path leads to a sunken area with makeshift benches and a fire pit.

“We actually found that a year ago, it’s a handmade fort. It’s a big circle, dug down into a pit,” Jacqueline Ferrara explained. “When we were there, there were markings on the trees so I just left because we didn’t know what to do about that.”

Warwick police said they haven’t had any recent calls to the house, and confirmed the man at the center of the investigation does not have a criminal record.

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