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Sudbury Man Found Guilty Of Conspiring To Help Al-Qaida

Souad Mehanna, mother of Tarek Mehanna, departs federal court in Boston Tuesday after Tarek was convicted on terror charges. (AP)

Souad Mehanna, mother of Tarek Mehanna, departs federal court in Boston Tuesday after Tarek was convicted on terror charges. (AP)

BOSTON — A Massachusetts man was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to help al-Qaida and plotting to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Tarek Mehanna, 29, of Sudbury, faced four terror-related charges and three charges of lying to authorities. A federal jury in Boston convicted him of all counts.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz praised the jury.

“Verdicts like this are not easy,” Ortiz said. “But it is clear that Mr. Mehanna had plans and his intent was to cause harm and the jury saw fit to find him guilty.”

“The more that we looked at the evidence, the more that we got to know our client, Tarek, the more we believed in his innocence,” said defense lawyer J.W. Carney Jr. “We did everything we could to try to show that to the jury.”

Prosecutors say Mehanna and two friends conspired to go to Yemen so they could receive training at a terrorist camp with the intention of going on to Iraq to fight against U.S. soldiers there. Prosecutors say when they couldn’t find a camp, Mehanna returned home and began translating and distributing publications to promote violent jihad.

Mehanna’s lawyers say he went to Yemen to look for religious schools and that his online activities were protected by the First Amendment.

“It’s an incredibly sad day for us,” said fellow defense attorney Janice Bassil. “It should be a sad day for all of you. It is a sad day for civil rights. It’s a sad day for the First Amendment.”

Ortiz says the government did not prosecute Mehanna for exercising his First Amendment rights.

“We prosecute people for conduct and the intent that they have when they engage in certain conduct,” she said.

Carney and Bassil say they’ll appeal the ruling.

Following the verdict, Mehanna’s father, Ahmed, immediately decried the decision, saying “there’s no evidence whatsoever in any of those charges.” Mehanna’s mother was visibly shaken.

Jurors spent more than 10 hours deliberating the verdict.

Mehanna will be sentenced April 12. He faces possible life in prison.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsrooom

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  • outraged

    This court is a disgrace to the rule of law….

    This court is a disgrace and nothing but an arm of the FBI and its efforts to target Muslim men by drumming up charges against them to terrorize Americans and to create “the enemy 
    from within” for their own political gain and continued assault on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. And this is only tip of the Iceberg as a retired New York/New Jersey lawyer
    found out when he followed a case that raised his suspicion of a case in his local area….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_U7nDXrQT8

    I hope Tarek Mehanna and his lawyers will take this to the Supreme Court –if for nothing 
    else to bring national attention to this injustice and fear mongering against Muslim men 
    by the FBI —in the Name of National Security and the agency’s assault on the American 
    Bill of Rights and peoples’ liberty…

    • Guest

      All courts are a disgrace to the rule of law. Any pretense of impartiality or “fair trial” in our judicial system is a sad joke.

  • Ruth

    I had a chance to sit in the courtroom during the trial. I feel it was done very fairly and with a lot of respect for both Tarek and witnesses. I watched the love his family and friends had for  Tarek…one could see how they supported him. Of course the defense is working as hard as they can to discredit the prosecutors. The prosecutors did not just invent this story it was clearly presented. 

    I am a really big supporter of the ACLU and totally believe in Freedom of Speech but, your motives should not be to incite people to kill others –that goes beyond a protected right.  Tarek wanted to commit Jihad, he translated the 39 Ways to commit Jihad  for terrorist websites. Whether he won or lost the case he will be a martyr because according Daniel Maldonato one of Tarek’s friends, if one gets killed or caught while trying to commit Jihad one would still become a martyr. Tarek made some serious mistakes, including showing himself grinning with joy in front of Ground Zero in New York; that is this not actions of someone who just believes in free speech, but the the actions of someone who supports and respects the killings on that day. At the end of the day, he got on a plane to go to place where he could receive training to kill American Soldiers in Iraq. Regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq (I never supported it and protested for months even going to Washington DC) you should not support someone who wants to kill American soldiers. Luckily he was not successful, and how many lives have been saved. The scary questions we all must ask ourselves as not only americans but humans is: How Many people has his translations inspired to take deadly actions?

  • gardenia

    This young man was promoting and teaching Jihad.  As “Ruth” said “How many people have his translations inspired to take deadly actions” . He deserves the sentence as given.  His parents should be ASHAMED of him.  If he caused the death of even one American, I would vote that he be executed.

  • Soulfoodvisnu

    There is nothing just or constitutional about this verdict.  “What sad times are these, where a conversation is nearly a crime.”  This is translation of a poem by a Holocaust victim, Paul Antzel (Celan), who wrote this for the poet Brecht, when the NAZIs found him guilty of conspiring against the state for saying things they didn’t like.

    When the NAZIs targeted Jews, the Germans cheered.  Right before our very eyes, fascists have taken over the government with hardly a peep of objection from us citizens.

    GO ahead, hate Muslims, cheer on injustice, see where it brings us. Be a hypocrite and a fool at the same time.  To those of you who would judge others and recommend execution, may I remind you that your God forbids you to do these things under the penalty of eternal damnation.

    We like to call it karma.  Your karma sucks. 

  • Isobel Clinton

    Strange wording: “the jurors spent more than 10 hours deliberating the verdict.”  Which so much at stake in this case, for our Constitution and for the individual, shouldn’t the copy editor have slashed “more than” and replaced it with “only”? 

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