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Friend: Mass. Suspect Praised Bin Laden, Hijackers

A friend testified Thursday at the federal trial of a Massachusetts man charged with conspiring to help al-Qaida that they watched jihad videos together and praised Osama bin Laden.

The friend, Ali Aboubakr, also said Tarek Mehanna described bin Laden as his "real father" in online conversations they had in 2006.

Aboubakr, 25, testified that he and Mehanna, both U.S. citizens from wealthy Boston suburbs, discussed their admiration for suicide bombers and the Sept. 11 hijackers, and visited the World Trade Center site in New York. Prosecutors showed a photo of Aboubakr, Mehanna and another friend visiting the site, smiling broadly for the camera and raising their index fingers.

Aboubakr, of Brookline, was a 20-year-old University of Massachusetts-Boston student when he and Mehanna would chat online and watch videos at Mehanna's home in Sudbury.

The videos included one showing the beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg in Iraq.

Several friends of the now 29-year-old Mehanna are expected to testify for the prosecution.

Prosecutors say Mehanna traveled to Yemen in 2004 seeking terrorist training, and when that failed he returned home to the Boston area and began translating and distributing materials promoting terrorism on the Internet.

Mehanna's lawyers deny he was promoting terrorism, and say he was exercising his free speech rights to show anger over the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They say he visited Yemen for religious purposes.

Mehanna was initially charged in 2008, months after he graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, with lying to the FBI. More serious charges were added in 2009, when Mehanna was accused of conspiracy, providing material support to al-Qaida and other charges.

This program aired on November 3, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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