[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 
emergency responders."

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 
the interview;"

-- 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 
attacks....;" and

-- 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 
competent counsel.

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 
or innocent.

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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