Mehanna Sentenced To 17.5 Years In Prison

BOSTON — Tarek Mehanna, the Sudbury native convicted late last year of attempting to aid al-Qaida, has been sentenced to 210 months, or 17.5 years, in federal prison.

Tarek Mehanna speaks during his sentencing hearing Thursday. (Jane Collins for WBUR)

Tarek Mehanna speaks during his sentencing hearing Thursday. (Jane Collins for WBUR)

Mehanna spoke on his own behalf during the Boston federal court hearing, as WBUR’s David Boeri reports:

What took place was a dramatic, 20-minute monologue. He did not miss a beat, no notes. There was not a pause. He started talking about what he was was because of America. He said it’s because of America that I am who I am.

Boeri says it was also tense at the end:

He told the judge in no uncertain terms that this was all about freedom and savagely attacked prosecutors and called the chief prosecutor a liar. The prosecutor responded, the defense objected, the judge called a 15-minute recess.

Mehanna also told the judge that he supports oppressed people, and that his case wasn’t terrorism.

The sentence is more lenient than the 25 years prosecutors had sought. Mehanna’s defense had asked for a sentence of no more than 6.5 years in prison. The charges could have resulted in a life sentence, according to probation guidelines.

Here’s how the AP recaps the verdict against the 29-year-old pharmacy school graduate:

[Mehanna was] found guilty in December of traveling to Yemen to seek training in a terrorist camp with the intention of going on to Iraq to fight U.S. soldiers there.

Federal prosecutors said that when that plan failed, Mehanna returned to the U.S. and began translating and disseminating materials online promoting violent jihad.

Defense lawyers characterized Mehanna as an unsophisticated man whose actions resulted in no harm to anyone.

The Oct. 21, 2009, file booking photo of Tarek Mehanna (AP/Sudbury Police Department, File)

The Oct. 21, 2009, file booking photo of Tarek Mehanna (AP/Sudbury Police Department, File)

With the defense’s sentencing memo, Mehanna sent a letter to the judge seeking leniency. In it, he expressed a desire to serve others and wrote proudly of his experiences teaching.

In federal court today, Judge George O’Toole said he’d received many supporting letters from Mehanna’s friends and family.

When the sentence was announced, Mehanna supporters stood and applauded, according to WBUR’s Beenish Ahmed. They chanted “Free Tarek!” outside the courthouse.

Tamer Mehanna said the cheers prove his brother’s innocence.

“Do you hear the support that we have?” he said. “We’ve had this support for two-and-a-half years because people who know Tarek in person know that he’s not the type of individual who would commit the kinds of crimes that the government has accused him of.”

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  • Javeer_miah

    i think the title should be re-written as “A man who harmed nobody jailed for 17.5 years”!

    • Gardenia

      You sound like an Islamic fundamentalist.  Have you forgotten 9/11?

      • David Islam

        Your 911 is out 24/7

      • Justice

        Have you forgotten, the millions your government has massacred all around the world, since it’s founding. 

        The U.S. was and still is a country that relies on corruption for it’s existence. Many years of conquering and imposing harm all around the world, by declaring false media and false claims. The U.S. talks about national security, while destroying the security of others to live freely. Your democracy is false, It appears to you that your liberated and free, but how could you be free, when you have no hand in what your government does both domestically and internationally in secret. The U.S. itself should be brought to Justice in a global court system, controlled by none of it’s allies. I proudly like to state “your country has the most untransparent , deceptive, behind a façade government in the world!”.Your Sincerely;A Human Being! 

      • John Smith

        Was he responsible for 9/11? No? Then your comment is ridiculous.

      • SpiderMan

        9/11 Grow Up and its Time to take  responsibility  for the wrath that Your Govt bring’s on itself, Just like Iran, N Korea, Israel, Iraq  they all ask for  what they get.Be Human and look at what real justice is Not the Bull US spreads. 

      • new jersey the gardenia state

         oh wow.  was he on the plane?  i thought the guys on the plane died. 

      • Just

         You sound like an Islamophob!!!

      • Fifa-style

        Please dong start with the 9/11 even america knows it was internal and planned. You must not read newspapers or have access to the Internet very often, maybe you have dial up.. It can be slow, lol I think your just scared of the unknown why don’t u grab a Quran or even just read a few things about Islam doesn’t mean you have to convert or nothing just be smart and wise with your actions. Peace

      • Fifa-style

        Oh gardenia if the extremist in America David galloway killed 19 people in America would that mean he is a Christian fundamentalist planning st Peter attacks in Palestine?? You must think if one person does something everyone should get blamed soooo pathetic haha…

    • Anonymous

      Hurt noone? If he succeeded with his plot, how many people will die?  

  • Anonymous

    Apparently he was a Batman fan.

    Gives bats a bad name.

  • Gardenia

    Do not think this poor fool is innocent of anything.  He was promoting violent jihad on the web.  And would have been glad to kill American servicemen and women.  He deserves a long term in prison.  After that I would suggest deportation to an Islamic country.

    • Anonymous


  • Jonmark82

    Oh… but it’s OK for American servicemen to cross the ocean and kill people there? What Hypocrites!

    • The Baron

       Meanwhile, fundamentalist christian terrorists are blowing up abortion clinics.

      • No More Muzzie Swine

         Number of abortion clinics bombed by Christian terrorists?  A handful.

        Number of people murdered by Muzzie terrorists?  Hundreds of thousands.   Fortunately, most were other Muzzies, killed by their “brothers” for belonging to the wrong sect or for failing to be sufficiently ignorant and fanaticial to please the mullahs.  But some people who matter were also harmed.

  • Anonymous

    Only 17.5 years? He should be put away for life!

  • RDW

    If the guy never went to training in Lebanon,  and his only sin is translation of documents the US government would have been much more prudent to let it go,  talk to him,  take his  valid points,  and get his help to change how the USA  interacts with Muslims around the world.  This man is not a killer,  he is a person frustrated with a political system that continually demonizes him as  a Muslim person.

    • Ftaylor92

       Do you know where to read his final speech online?

      • The Baron


  • rdw

    It is a waster to incarcerate people who are intelligent and really just need to be heard and validated.

  • No More Muzzie Swine

    Traitor.  Needs a rope around his neck and suspension from a tree.

  • vivian

    you 9/11 is our 24/7.

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