[Ppnews] Tariq Mehanna: Obama's Latest Muslim Target
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 26 18:46:18 EDT 2009
Tariq Mehanna: Obama's Latest Muslim Target
By Stephen Lendman
26 October, 2009
Post-9/11, Muslims have been victimized, vilified, and persecuted for
their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. They've
been targeted, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in
isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried
on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, given long sentences,
then incarcerated for extra harsh treatment as political prisoners in
segregated Communication Management Units (CMUs) in violation of US
Prison Bureau regulations and the Supreme Court's February 2005
Johnson v. California decision.
An October 21 FBI press release announced Tariq (mispelled Tarek)
Mehanna as its most recent target saying:
"A Sudbury , Mass. man was charged today in federal court with
conspiracy to provide support to terrorists."
The FBI alleged that from "about 2001 and continuing until (about)
May 2008, Mehanna conspired with Ahmad Abousamra and others to
provide material support and resources for use in carrying out a
conspiracy to kill, kidnap, main or injure persons or damage property
in a foreign country and extraterritorial homicide of a US national."
With no substantiating evidence, "Mehanna and coconspirators (were
accused of having) discussed their desire to participate in violent
jihad against American interests and that they would talk about
fighting jihad and their desire to die on the battlefield. (They
also) attempted to radicalize others and inspire each other by, among
other things, watching and distributing jihadi videos. (In addition),
Mehanna and two of his associates traveled to the Middle East in
February 2004, seeking military-type training at a terrorist training
camp (to) prepare them for armed jihad....including (against) US and
allied forces in Iraq....(One) of Mehanna's coconspirators made two
similar trips to Pakistan in 2002."
"....Mehanna and the coconspirators had multiple conversations about
obtaining automatic weapons (from a Mr. Maldonado, now serving a
10-year sentence for training with Al Queda in Somalia) and randomly
shooting people in a shopping mall, and that the conversations went
so far as to discuss the logistics of a mall attack, including
coordination, weapons needed and the possibility of attacking
Yet no attack occurred. None ever was likely planned, but according
to the FBI, it was because no automatic weapons could be obtained
even though legal semi-automatic ones are freely sold and illegal
automatic ones easily gotten.
The web site eastcoastfirearms.com lists for sale numerous ones,
including AK-47 (Kalashnikov) assault rifles, AR-15/M16 type rifles,
Uzi assault weapons, LWRC M6A2s called the most modern carbine rifle
in the world, and various others with considerable firepower.
"Mehanna was previously indicted in January 2009 for making false
statements to members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI in
connection with a terrorism investigation. If convicted on the
material support charge, (he) faces up to 15 years in prison, to be
followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine."
Federal Judge Leo Sorokin ordered Mehanna held without bail pending
his next court hearing on October 30. After his ruling, his attorney,
JW Carney, Jr. said:
"This is the type of case that challenges our commitment and faith in
the United States Constitution. Our country is respected around the
world because we presume people are innocent, and we require the
government to prove its allegations in open court at trial."
Mr. Carney will soon discover how prosecutors use secret evidence,
paid informants, and will go to any lengths to intimidate juries to
convict, regardless of a defendant's guilt or innocence, especially
targeted Muslims charged with intent to commit or provide material
support for terrorism.
According to the Bureau, Mehanna and his "coconspirators" used code
words like "peanut and jelly" to mean fighting in Somalia and
"culinary school" for terrorist camps, but perhaps they said
precisely what they meant, and what proof suggests otherwise.
The FBI also claimed when they weren't able to join terror groups in
Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan, the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings
inspired them to attack shopping malls instead as well as two
(unnamed) former executive branch members.
Mehanna is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy where
his father, Ahmed, is a professor. They reside in Sudbury , MA , an
affluent Boston suburb.
Neighbors expressed shock by the news. Chafic Maalouf called Mehanna
"very sweet (and) soft-spoken. He seemed so harmless. He has a beard
and a dark complexion, so to the average American he fits the
terrorist profile. But if you look in his eyes, he seemed to be a
very genuine, kind, loving person," not a jihadist.
Paul McManus called him "everyday normal. When he was out walking, he
was friendly (and) neighborly." Another supporter said the FBI is
"painting the wrong picture of the Muslim community" by targeting one
of its up and coming members. Still others cited his work with youths
as a teacher at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland , MA .
Abdul Cader Asmal, the Center's former president, said he gave
lectures at Friday services in Worchester , MA and translated poetic
Arabic scriptures into English. Over time, he became dedicated to his
beliefs as many people of all faiths do who plan no terrorist acts.
Ahmad AlFarsi defended Mehanna in a 2008 article following his
previous arrest that's pertinent to his current charges. At first, he
hesitated "so as not to expose (his) privacy," then felt he had to
support his friend "since the media has already made his case and
name public" and practically convicted him in the court of public opinion.
AlFarsi called him "one of the most gracious, kind, caring,
thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known....I have seen
him go above above and beyond what most others would do to help
others in need. Those who know him personally know exactly what I am
talking about. I am sure any of his peers, Muslim or non-Muslim,
would testify to his excellent character."
He's also been "very involved in the Muslim community. I remember
many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the
local masjid (Muslim place of worship) on an Islamic text he was
studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come
to the straight path....I'd also like to emphasize that he does not
and never has supported nor been involved with terrorism, in any way
Consider "the implications of this incident: we have another (Muslim
man, an American citizen) with no previous criminal record of any
kind, being held without bail (for now) in his own country....Such a
tactic serves only to smear Muslims, and brings pain and suffering to
him, his family, and his future," and leaves all Muslims "fearful,
marginalized, and unable to trust the authorities."
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) October 20 Affidavit
JTTF Special Agent Heidi L. Williams assisted in the investigation of
Mehanna, Ahmad Abousamra, and others, and presented alleged evidence
to establish probable cause, but said "classified national security
information" would remain secret, unavailable to the defense, and
therefore beyond its capability to disprove.
Williams claimed Mehanna's "Computer and its contents constitute
evidence of the commission of a criminal offense, contraband, fruits
of crime and things otherwise criminally possessed as well as
property designed and intended for use, and that has been used, as a
means of committing....criminal offense(s under US law)."
She also said "information set forth herein comes from two
cooperating witnesses ('CW1' and 'CW2' - aka commonly used FBI
informants to entrap). Both CWs provided information that was based
on personal knowledge, including actions and statements by MEHANNA
and ABOUSAMRA." Their trial testimony will show "corroborative
evidence in the form of consensually recorded conversations" with
defendants and others. "Further evidence is provided by Daniel
Maldonado, who was a friend of MEHANNA and ABOUSAMRA, and is
currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for Receiving
Military-type Training from a Foreign Terrorist Organization (to wit:
Al Qa' ida....)."
"Additional information was obtained from a review of records of
governmental agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection ("CBP")
and Department of State, Passport Office, as well as records of
private entities, such as banks, airlines, telephone companies and
internet service providers, and interviews of friends, relatives and
acquaintances (of defendants)."
Williams cited more evidence from:
-- Mehanna's bedroom;
-- a computer hard drive;
-- "false information" he provided the JTTF with regard to his 2004
Yemen trip and knowledge of "Maldonado's circumstances at the time of
-- recorded conversations in which "Mehanna admitted to other
individuals that he lied to the FBI" regarding Maldonado;
-- the November 2008 charge of lying about Maldonado during JTTF
-- the December 2006 charge that Abousamra lied during JTTF
interrogations in claiming his 2004 Yemen trip was to study Arabic and Islam;
-- Williams' assertion that both defendants went to Yemen in 2004 "to
learn how to conduct, and to subsequently engage in, jihad;" to
Pakistan twice in 2002 for the same purpose;
-- that defendants "continued in their efforts to train for jihad
(and) received information and assistance from an individual
(referred to) as Individual A, about who to see and where to go to
find terrorist training camps in Yemen;"
-- in February 2004, Abousamra also entered Iraq, stayed for about
"15 days" and two months later went to Syria and Jordan before
returning to the US in August 2004; he subsequently visited Syria
"multiple times;" he "made fictitious and fraudulent statements to
the FBI" that he went to Jordan to "look for colleges," to Iraq "to
look for a job" and to Syria "to visit his wife."
The lengthy 55-page affidavit, plus attachments, also claimed:
-- CW 2 was a coconspirator;
-- Abousamra had "extremist views by citing Islamic teachings;"
-- "the three men engaged in serious conversations about jihad;"
-- they discussed "going to terrorist training camps in Pakistan
(and) conducted logistical research on the internet pertaining to
terrorist training camp locations and how to travel there, but no
concrete plans materialized;" and
-- extensive further allegations that defendants sought but never
received terrorist training; that they wished to engage in jihad, but
never did; and they subsequently "discussed logistics of a mall
attack, including the types of weapons needed, the number of people
who would be involved, and how to coordinate the attack from
different entrances (but) Because of the logistical problems of
executing the operation (and their inability to obtain the type
weapons they wanted), the plan was abandoned."
From all this, an observer might conclude there was no plan, no
weapons, and no crime in what appears to be clear entrapment using a
paid informant, a coconspirator CW 2, offering testimony in return
for leniency, and Maldonado (imprisoned for 10 years) promised it as
well for his cooperation. Nonetheless, under US conspiracy law, if
prosecutors can convince juries that defendants words implied actions
they can get convictions, especially when they cite terrorism and the
urgency to prevent it at all costs, even if innocent victims are
imprisoned for offenses they never committed of planned.
Mehanna Friends, Supporters, and Family Express Doubts about the Charges
With no previous criminal record, his friends and family call him a
maturing Muslim community leader, a passionate writer, and a young
man wanting a career in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, not a jihadist,
even though he supports the right of oppressed peoples to resist as
international law allows. In the Kingdom, he was promised good pay,
generous benefits, and free trips home. He was boarding a plane in
Boston en route when he was arrested.
In a summer 2009 interview with the Boston Globe and subsequent
statements through his lawyer, he denied FBI allegations and accused
federal investigators of targeting him with bogus charges because
they wanted him as a government informant, pressured him to accede,
but he refused and wouldn't cooperate. That made him suspect, an
enemy, and got him targeted.
The Dominant Media's Jihad against Muslims
Whenever Muslims are charged, the dominant media provides support
without ever questioning the legitimacy of accusations. As a result,
innocent victims are vilified. They're presumed guilty unless proved
innocent. Fear is instilled in the public, while law enforcement
officials are portrayed as public defenders, working to keep us safe
from bad guys. Below are some samples of media bias:
-- The New York Times headlined, "Mass. Man Arrested in Terrorism
Case....The authorities said he had conspired to attack civilians at
a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the
executive branch of the federal government."
-- AP called Mehanna "an Incompetent Wannabe" and practically accused
him of "plotting to shoot up a mall, kill US troops fighting
overseas, and assassinate US officials" here at home;
-- Fox News highlighted the alleged plot, called Mehanna "Defiant in
Court," and said he was only foiled by being "unable to get into
terror camps for training and failed to get access to automatic weapons;"
-- the Wall Street Journal headlined the "Plots to Shoot Up Mall,
Kill Federal Officials" by a man "out on bail (from an earlier
unsubstantiated charge and) awaiting trial;"
-- the Washington Post reported about the: " Massachusetts man
arrested on terror charges" (for) conspiring to support terrorists by
seeking training from Islamic extremist fighters overseas...."
-- Time magazine offered a "two-minute bio" about an "Alleged US
Terrorist....plann(ing) to carry out a 'violent jihad' by killing US
politicians, (and) attack(ing) US shopping malls;"
-- the Christian Science Monitor headlined how the "FBI traced Tarek
Mehanna in his quest to become a jihadi" and practically accused him
of "try(ing) to become a terrorist for eight years following the 9/11
-- Jihad Watch, an Islamaphobic web site, called Mehanna "a
Misunderstander of Islam," then accused him of "plotting 'violent jihad.' "
Nowhere do major media or hate group reports suggest possible bogus
charges, ulterior motives behind them, innocent people being
targeted, secret evidence withheld to compromise a proper defense,
intimidation of juries, or that everyone is presumed innocent unless
proved guilty in fair and open proceedings with defendants having
According to muslimmatters.org after Mehanna's 2008 arrest, the FBI
was "Desperate for Results (so they) Arrest(ed a) US Citizen on
Two-Year-Old (unsubstantiated) Charges" and got their usual scare
headlines for support.
These comments followed his October 21 arrest:
"All of us here at MM believe, based on the facts that we know, that
Tareq is innocent of the crimes that he has been accused of....MM is
often on the front lines against disinformation about Islam, and
actively seeks to counter the radicalization of Muslims."
MM's goal "is to educate readers about the fallacies and dangers of
all types of extremism by promoting Orthodox Islam....we believe that
Islamophobes are indirectly aiding and abetting terrorists'
recruiting efforts by fitting into their agenda and supporting their
Many Muslims were shocked about the news on Mehanna. "It was
generally thought (his 2008 charges were bogus) and that (he) had
been falsely accused. After all, (post-9/11), the civil liberties of
the Muslim American community had been slowly withered away by the
Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, the denial of the basic
American right of habeas corpus, and unsavory tactics that targeted
(Muslims) in general....we at MM" know his "reputation as a family
man and a peaceful citizen" and presume he's innocent "unless proven
otherwise.... (We) remain highly skeptical that he was actually a
'terrorist in disguise.' "
A Final Comment
More than any other ethnic-religious group, Western discourse has
long portrayed Muslim/Arabs stereotypically as culturally inferior,
dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, and violent.
According to Jack Shaheen's book, "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood
Vilifies a People," defaming them has been fair game throughout
decades of cinematic history (from silent films to today's
blockbusters) as a way to foster prejudicial attitudes and reinforce
notions of Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority.
Worse still are slanderous media characterizations of dangerous
gun-toting terrorists who must rounded up and put away, never mind
the rule of law, right or wrong, or whether those accused are guilty
It's no surprise why it's dangerous to be Muslim in America at a time
when we're all as vulnerable as Tariq Mehanna.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on
Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The
Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday
at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are
archived for easy listening.
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